Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hooligan Nations

After more than a year of steady writing why did I stop these past few months? It’s complicated. Depression, self-doubt, angst, anxiety, indolence, disgust and disappointment with the world—all those things I suppose. Actually, those things caused me to stop, but I never intended to go so long without an entry. It seems time just got away from me and I just never got around to writing again, except in my mind. My tortured brain blogged like crazy for hours every night and continued to do so well into the wee hours. Anyway, I think I’ll try it again for awhile before I feel like I’ve completely disappeared. I’m sure someone has already said this because it rings true, “I Blog therefore I am.” Sure enough, I just googled it and there are more than 18 million hits. Whoa! So now this makes 18 million and one. (grin)

My buddy “E man” and I have a continuing back-and-forth email tirade that has gone on for months. He’s an amazing fellow who doesn’t fully understand how cool he is. Since serving in the US Army in Vietnam he’s wandered through and lived a transient life in scores of countries on a shoestring budget. He has a million stories to tell about what he’s gone through these past 30 some years. Talking to him makes me realize that I most enjoy relating conversations I’ve had with people I meet out here in this part of the world who come from all other parts of the world. So, I think I’ll try that…

My orthopedic specialist has encouraged me to go to the gym and do whatever I can to keep my arthritis and tendonitis from turning me into the tin man after a rain shower. After being somewhat of an athlete my whole life I find it embarrassing trying to lift weights that a healthy 10 year old girl should easily manage, but my doctor is right. Unless I force myself to do something I soon find myself unable to do anything. Of course medication helps too. So, I go to the gym and gut it out almost every day on the various work-out machines trying to keep it as low-impact as possible.

I met Steve a few weeks ago in the gym. He’s English from a town not that far from Liverpool and he sounds like it. The Beetles were from Liverpool. Steve sounds like one of them. He lives much of the year here in the Philippines much preferring it here to the UK. Today I found out why he feels this way during one of our transitory conversations.

“…Phil, I love to work. I love to do for meself. I know most people living here have someone do their cooking, but not me. I do all me own cooking. In fact, I used to clean all the rooms in my family’s B&B (bed & breakfast) in one of the meanest parts of town you can imagine. I used to lock meself in at night and tried to sleep while listening to screaming and beatings all night long until the morning when I would get up and clean every room meself.”

I remarked, “Dang Steve, it’s like that in the UK? I didn’t realize it was so violent over there. I thought it was just the soccer hooligans who did all that crazy stuff, but on second thought, I did see something on TV the other day about how mean with violence it’s getting in Scotland. It’s like the fight scene in Westside Story. You know, with the Jets and the Sharks and lots of knives and bloodletting all the time.”

Steve bristled with anger, his eyes bulging uncharacteristically, “No Phil, it’s getting like that ALL OVER THE UK. Let me tell you what happened not long ago to me mum. I went to meet her at the train station, and just as she was getting off the train she opened her umbrella and accidentally poked a 14 year old girl in the side of her head. Me mum is 67 years old and this girl had both of her hands wrapped around me mum’s throat like this!”

“Oh my God; no way!” I interjected.

“Yep, and about 6 other girls, friends of the one on me mum, were in a circle around them.”

“So it was a gang of girl thugs. Incredible! That’s how it is over there?” I asked in disbelief.

“If I hadn’t shown up to frighten them off, they fully intended to rough her up. And the things she said to me mum were awful. This mean 14 year old bitch told me mum that she was going to teach her a lesson…”

“Why was the girl so angry with your mother? Didn’t your mom apologize to her when she poked her? I don’t get it…”

“Of course she did, but Phil, it doesn’t matter to these animals. It seems like the entire country has gone mad. For instance, I was just walking from my part of town into the next section of town and some bloke stopped me and asked me where I was from and where I was going. I told him I was going to visit a friend, and he asked me about our football club and I told him I didn’t follow football. Next thing I know he socked me in the side of my head and started pummeling me.”

“Damn Steve. He still laid into you even after you told him you cared nothing about football? What was the point?”

“People back home now don’t have to have any reason to start something. You can just go into a pub and glance at someone and the next thing you know that guy is in your face asking you, “What the f**k are you looking at?” before whopping you with one.”

I commented wryly before starting another light set of chest presses, “I’m beginning to see why you spend so much time over here buddy. This place has problems, but having to worry about getting a gratuitous ass-kicking is not one of them.”

Steve nodded in agreement saying, “I need to get back to me weights, but let me tell you this one last story. You know we have a lot of nurses from the Philippines working in the UK now, right?”

“Yup, so do we in the states,” I grunted in agony between pressing my light yet painful weight away from my chest.

“Well, a friend of mine, a Filipino male nurse only a week or two in the country went out for a drink or two with a couple of other nurses to check out some pubs around his new home. It was his very first time out in England. For no reason a group of guys set into him and beat him up and beat him so badly that he ended up in hospital for THREE days! That was a couple years ago. Do you know how many times that lad has been out since then?”

“How many?”

“None!” He answered seething with bitterness.

I shook my head thinking about that poor nurse. “You know, I thought it was just the states that was getting so violent and mean-spirited. It wasn’t like that back when I was a kid in the 60s. What do you think is going on culturally that is making everyone so aggressive on both sides of the pond?”

“I have no idea Phil,” he shook his head, but then something came to mind. “I can tell you this. No one has any respect for the police and everyone knows that if they are arrested that they won’t spend much time in jail. Basically no one gets punished for anything anymore, so they do whatever they want.”

I nodded and we went our separate ways for a bit. A few minutes later our paths crossed yet again and I continued, “Steve, I have a couple of theories as to why so many people these days are so willing to fight, and yell and shoot the finger. For one thing, the movies and TV are creating a vicious circle of meanness. The writers, directors and producers say they just want to “keep it real” and portray what’s “really happening” in the world between people. But then real folks act like the way they see things on TV and in the movies; so what comes first, the chicken or the egg? After awhile, it doesn’t matter, coz each one strives to “out real” the other.”

Doing some bicep curls with a heavy dumbbell Steve just nodded and grunted.

I continued pontificating, sitting down and starting into some light peddling on the reclining cycle, “There’s another cultural phenomenon happening on both sides of the Atlantic Steve—secularism. Are there many church-goers anymore where you come from?”

He looked uncomfortable now as he answered, “No, hardly anyone attends church anymore. It’s a very small proportion of people these days.”

“Well, its getting like that in the US too. I don’t know if you’re a Christian or not, but I’m a Catholic boy and believe in Jesus and what he said about loving each other and treating others the way I want to be treated. If everyone followed those basic teachings do you think people would be so willing to bust each other up over “a look” in a pub, or from an accidental poke from an umbrella? Hell, drivers in the states now are ready to kill each other because of perceived tailgating! Man, it wasn’t like that 40 years ago. Something terrible is happening to us man.”

He grimaced, unable to answer after some exceptionally strenuous reps. I continued, “Can you imagine how bad it would be in the UK if everyone had a gun like we do in the colonies?” I grinned slapping him on the back having finished my workout and turning to leave.

Steve shook his head, hands on hips, and called after me, “I don’t even want to think about that Phil. I just hope that never happens. I’m sure it would be a thousand times worse than it is now.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see that you are blogging again. I missed your writing, thought something may have happened.

You're right on about the road rage issue. If people perceive that you cut them off, they will cut you off real close to clipping the front of your car.

Anyway, enough of that. I start terminal leave next month and plan to stay in the National Capital area.

Your Cousin Brian