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The trouble with religion (part 94)

In which we discuss a suitable Sunday topic


The Mother phoned up today, as she does regularly, to tell us all the latest exciting goings-on in her social circle. Her friend George, who she knew from church, has died aged 85, after a long illness. “Of course, he’d been ill for years,” she said, “and he was in great pain. By the end he was screaming. ‘Take me, Lord, take me!’ It was a blessing when he died.”

When it comes to religion, The Mother is a great fan of this sort of logic. If The Family Car Crash Of 1988 ever comes up in conversation, The Mother will no doubt say something along the lines of “You had such a narrow escape! It just proves that God was looking down on us.” Now, it’s true that I almost lost a) my life b) an eyeball;* but I’m not sure God deserves much in the way of credit. It is fair to argue, though, that the Family Car Crash Of 1988 was a Good Thing: the insurance windfall paid for a piano and a university education.

You can’t really argue, though, that taking the life of an old man after he’s had a long and painful illness, so bad he begs you to kill him, is a good way for any deity to behave. If God really wanted to bless a man who had been a devout churchgoer all his life, a churchwarden and church committee member for many years, someone who every Sunday had been up at the altar receiving the body and blood of Christ devoutly believing that the said God had personally told us all to do this every week,** if He had really wanted to grant him a boon, wouldn’t he have saved him the several years of pain and suffering?*** But, no, in The Mother’s religious logic, bringing the death after George had been calling out for it loudly for a while is the kindly Godly way to behave, not letting him die after a short illness a few years ago. It leaves me thinking: just what does count as compassion, for the religious?

* Strangely, although my life was saved by a pretty narrow margin, I never realised until many many years later just how close I’d come to being killed. Instead, I concentrated on the irony that my eyeball was probably saved by my poor sight, as the thick plastic lens in front of it absorbed the impact of the shards of glass that hit me. With extra irony, the sight in my other eye is almost perfect.

** Although of course, Jesus didn’t want me for a sunbeam do it on a Sunday morning.

*** Let’s not get into the tragic story of George’s wife, either.

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In Sickness And In Health

In which I worry about feeling ill so much I feel ill


Sickness is a strange thing. So psychological, that you can almost think yourself sick. I’m wondering if it’s going to happen to me – and, of course, wondering about it makes it more and more likely.

Everyone we know, pretty much, has been horribly ill over the past month or two, in bed for a few days, aching, throwing up, incapacitated. I can’t think of a single person, in fact, who says they haven’t had it.

Except, that is, us. We’ve both felt awful, we’ve both been tired and aching, too exhausted to do very much, but we’ve both stayed out of bed. Neither of us has given up and retired to bed for a few days waiting for it to blow over. But the exhaustion and the achiness has gone on for much longer, longer than it would have if we’d actually been ill in the first place.

Now, thinking about it, I keep wondering why we’ve managed to not get too sick when everyone else we know says it’s sent them to bed at some point. Which in turn means: is it our turn? Is it going to come around.

In the real world, I really don’t think epidemiology works that way; but I don’t know about my head. So this morning when I had a sudden attack of dizziness, I felt: is this the winter flu? Is that what’s coming on? The way things are going, I’ll convince myself to fall ill, and fall ill, when otherwise I’d stay fine and healthy.

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A small rhetorical question

In which FP wishes to be free of the ‘flu


How long, exactly, does it take for a mild dose of the flu to go away? Because I’m well into my second week of it, now, and I’m getting bored of the constant cough and the fuzzy head. I can, at least, move about, but my jaw muscles really don’t feel like doing anything, and hurt like hell whenever I try to chew.

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Godlike powers

In which we’re not impressed


Christmas came, and brought the flu. I was in bed most of yesterday, aching, coughing and sleeping.

We really weren’t impressed by the ending of Doctor Who on Christmas Day. Russell T Davies doesn’t know how to write a good ending – as demonstrated both by the end to the last series, and the Christmas special. I’m dreading the new series, and I really hope he’ll have written as few episodes as possible. Give the writing jobs to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in future, please.

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Today

In which FP is ill


Today, I’ve drunk several cups of tea. I’ve sat reading for a while; I’ve sat online for a while, and later I’m going to be zooming about the English motorway system.* In other words, just like any other non-working day. The only alcohol in my system is: two spoonfuls of Benylin.

Somehow, though, I have this sudden urge to gorge myself on poultry and roast vegetables, before lying back in an armchair, burping, eating Ferrero Rocher** and watching Doctor Who on the telly. It must be genetic, or something.*** At least Doctor Who can wait until evening. If you’re reading this, today: go and look at one final Christmas card, then switch off the computer, and either go down the pub, or lie on the sofa and belch like a normal person.

* insert Sarah Nixey impression here.

** yes, I did get given a box. And socks. And underwear. And the new Terry Pratchett, as per usual.

*** It’s been scientifically-proved – by the FP Militant Invective Laboratories, of course – that British people have a genetic susceptibility towards a love of apparently-immortal and godlike aliens who can build time-travelling phone boxes.

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Just for once…

In which the world spins around us


…I am going to write a post without a one-word title.

The news is full of utterly incompetent terrorists; politics is all changing;* and the floodwaters are finally dropping.** And, I’ve been all quiet. Because I’ve been feeling absolutely terrible – as if I’m going to be sick any minute, without ever actually being sick.

Oh, and there was a wedding party, too; and the usual turning world.

On Doctor Who: I have a long post planned, about the similarities between the series finale and the books of Pratchett. It can wait, though, until I have more energy. And until Ian is back from his holidays, so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I wonder what he might be getting up to.***

* this may be an exaggeration

** unless you live near Doncaster

*** and if there will be photos.

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Unwell

In which we see something uncomfortable


People kept coming in and alerting the staff, taking one aside* for a quiet talk. Not quiet enough not to be overheard, though. “Can’t you call the police or something? Can’t you call 999? She’s obviously disturbed.”

We were in Starbucks on the corner of Jameson St; it has a large outdoor area spreading out into the wide, pedestrian street. Given the April weather, it was empty, aside from one woman with her back to the shop. An empty coffee cup was on the table in front of her, but she never made to lift or touch it. She was slumped forwards, her head hooded and curly dark hair hiding her face. Every so often her shoulders would shake, as if in mighty sobs.

After the third or fourth person came into the cafe, one of the waitresses went outside to talk to her. She bent down to chat to the woman, and I assume the woman replied. Before long, the waitress returned inside.

We left the cafe not long later, and the woman was still there, shaking slightly. I turned as we left, to see her face, but whatever angle as we passed her face was hidden behind her unruly hair. I wondered how long she would be there for, and who, if anyone, would come to scoop her up.

* I flatly refuse to use the cod-Italian barista. It is fake Italian, isn’t it? Any genuine Italians to reassure me?

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The Last Days Of Winter

In which we encapsulate things


Still recovering from my awful, hacking-cough cold. For The Mother, who thinks I have had bronchitis continuously since August, this is more evidence that I am leading a terribly dissolute lifestyle and need to stop having sex, stay indoors watching TV, and go to bed at 9pm every night just like she does.

In lieu of a proper entry, it’s time for One-Line Album Reviews. Hurrah! In which, FP tries to come up with pithy lines about some of the albums he’s bought recently.*

The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club, The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club: you can’t hum it, the same as you can’t pronounce the name after a few gin and tonics very easily; but it’s some good, chunky angular music to listen to in the car.

The Aliens, Astronomy For Dogs: Like The Beta Band doing rock, which isn’t too surprising really. Rather good.

Gossip, Standing In The Way Of Control: A bit much hype involved, which (also) isn’t surprising really. It’s not a bad album, but they’re not as good as, say, The Kills.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager: Note to self: unlike TVEGC (see above), do not put this on in the car. You will fall asleep, probably at a busy motorway intersection, and kill hundreds of innocent pensioners on a coach en route to Southend.

And that’s most definitely enough of that.

* thus ruling out all the dronerock the Dronerock Fairy has been sending this way. Although the forthcoming Blonde Redhead album is rather good. Erm, so I hear.

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The seaside

In which FP catches something


It was Scarborough that did it.

We had a lovely day, walking up and down the prom, eating candy floss in the car,* going up and down the cliff lift, avoiding the waves that were splashing up over the edge of the prom and over the road: the sea looked like an over-full bathtub. But it was the cold, biting wind, that left me feeling half-asleep and jammed up for the past couple of days, left me wishing I could stay tucked up in bed asleep for a week.

* so it didn’t blow away

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Ill

In which FP is unwell


Bleagh. Feeling rather under the weather. I need to snuggle up under the duvet and get some sleep.

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