Judgement, and prejudgement. We all do it from time to time, it's natural and it's one of our basic defence strategies passed down to us from our ancestors on the plains, a stranger comes in to our group from the outside, we're suspicious and fearful, and if something bad then happens to upset the equilibrium it's clearly their fault.
It's not always the first answer that's the right one though is it?
For example, if you're brought up culturally within the Judeo-Christian religion as most of us are the first answer that we get given for why women go through pain in Childbirth is that because Eve took the fruit from the tree of knowledge after talking to the serpent, God punished her and her daughters and all their daughters and so on, for all eternity to pain in Childbirth, and the Serpent to slither on his belly. God in this instance being a massive prick, and also breaking the Geneva convention on human rights which disallows group punishments for the action of the individual. And yet further proof if proof were needed that you don't get Morality from what's written in the Bible, I'm fairly sure that most of us don't think it's fair to punish everyone of a group for the actions of one or a few?
So that's the first and most obvious answer to why women go through pain in childbirth if you take your facts from middle eastern folk tales. If you through a process of peer review and a thirst for knowledge and don't take the first thing you're told at face value, you eventually get to the point where you figure out that the likelihood is that we evolved over billions of years from a single celled organism eventually to a point where our species branched off from other primates and they ended up being Chimpanzees and Orangutans etc and we became who we are and felt pretty smug because a few short billion years before we made that leap a random genetic mutation meant that everyone down a different branch evolved differently and had become Bananas, and the primates thought they were stupid and piled the ultimate insult on them by eating them and making their skins the ultimate pure expression of comedy. Anyway the earth changed, the jungle receded and our ancestors went from all fours to bipedal, and so our hips had to change shape to become load baring, and as a result of that it meant that babies had to be born before they were fully developed and intelligent, and would cause a lot more pain in birth, but this meant that adults would have to form strong bonds in order to look after the child until maturity.
So, Ate an apple and punished by angry sky God, Vs over a period of time body shape changed and we're not quite properly evolved for it not to hurt. It is a judgement call but I know which one I think edges it.
But it's easy to make snap judgements, and our thinking isn't always straight forward, we say stuff without thinking, and sometimes in our effort to be nice. It's a bit like that Liberal Guilt blog I did a few months back, only slightly different.
I heard someone the other week describing someone that they thought was a total wanker, and they said "But I thought he'd be a lot nicer, you know, all things considered." and when pressed on what she meant by this she said "Well, you know, he's in a wheelchair." As if the inability to move his legs would somehow give him a sparkling personality. This romantic notion that if we're somehow different that this will make us a better person.
It doesn't work like that. And this positive connotations we have with people who are different can be just as bad as the negative ones that we have, in the end it's all judgemental.
Tonight I'm off to Nuneaton, which sounds like the sort of thing you can be thrown out of a convent for. It was the home of George Elliot, and annually enters the Britain in Bloom competition, which in 2000 it managed to get to the final of. It's the sort of place that rarely shows up on anyone's radar unless you or family live there, I've been to a number of these towns over the years, and they're usually pleasantly surprising. Swadlincoate, for example, has a dry ski slope and some lovely denizens, and about the most exciting thing it has to offer according to Wikipedia is that it's as far away from the sea as it's possible to be in the UK, a title that it somehow manages to share with Ashby De-La-Zouche. Quite how your towns greatest geological feature can be shared in such a way I'm not sure. But apparently it's so.
Ware, in Hertfordshire too A lovely little nowhere place, in so many ways reminded me of where my friends grew up the suburbs beyond Chorley in Euxton, the houses that were built in the 1960's and 70's and the large suburb expansions where you were never more than half a mile away from another identical square at the entrance to an estate with a Chip Shop a pub, a Spar and a Laundrette, the Laundrette I suspect has now gone and been replaced either with a place to get a mobile phone unblocked or a sun tan place. The gig was at the local sport centre and football club, away from these newer houses and more towards the centre of Ware, itself one of the oldest towns in Britain, It had been there for years by the time they decided to build a fort there to keep the Vikings out. And as far as anyone knows the Vikings never came.
The Vikings not arriving appears to have been the last exciting thing that happened there.
And the reason I love these places is because they remind me not to judge people.
I get quite nostalgic for these places, that's why I love coming to do gigs in them. My own growing up in my home town was fairly average all things considered, all the problems I had were mine, and little to do with the location I was growing up in and as soon as I could I left the small village I lived in and headed for London.
A fresh start a new me away from the horrible stifling depressing shitty home of my birth. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to live in a place like Chorley, when they could go somewhere good, like London, which to me was synonymous with success, with the future, with being able to be different and express yourself.
As the sort of kid who got attention for walking through the streets of this small Lancashire Market town with pillar box red hair in bunches, big baggy jumpers and candy floss pink PVC trousers and knee high patent leather boots, and wondered why I got unwanted attention from every angry beta male who was out looking for something to fuck and fight, and probably not in that order.
Being quite the androgynous teenager, it was confusing to most of the ones who ended up in the pub where I worked, Harry's Bar a place which was rammed out for Sunday afternoons watching the premiership on the big screen. I never realised until long after I left that most small towns across the country, there aren't a great number of fights on nights out. But Chorley was that sort of town where people all want, as the T-shirt Slogan says "A pint and a fight - The Great British Night!" And I got dragged over the bar to take part in a few. Other times I'd just confuse the fuck out of punters.
"Are you a bird or a bloke?" I'd get asked at least 5 times a shift. the simple answer "Yes" never seemed to satisfy them so they'd always ask again. And I'd always have 2 replies ready to go, either "I think your chat up technique needs a bit of work." or "As I've no intention of fucking you what business is it of yours?"
Ok, unlike a lot of teenagers who think that they don't fit in, and that no one they know possibly understands what they're going through, I really didn't fit in, and no one did.
But what I didn't realise was that it wasn't the town that was holding me back, that I wouldn't go somewhere else and people would stop judging me, I wouldn't find London to be the Shangri La, this playground where I could become what I wanted to be, to blossom out of this cocoon and find acceptance. And I didn't for the simplest of reasons.
I was still me, I was just in London. I think that's what helped precipitate the big crash I had. I didn't know it at the time but just like the comet that crashed into the earth and got rid of the Dinosaurs that let the mammals take over the planet, I was about to have a massive extinction level event of my own happen.
Throw the realisation that what you've been striving for is an illusion and a relationship breakdown plus equal parts drugs, alcohol and depression into a blender and you get quite a concoction.
The urge to run away is hard wired into us, some of us run and never stop, because it's easier to try the etch a sketch restart to our lives rather than stop still and go. Right, I'm going to look at what it is that's wrong and try and solve each piece bit by bit.
That's why I love going to these small towns. It's why I don't mind the fact that they remind me of where I grew up any more.
I always thought these places were judgemental, and that they mistrusted me, and hated me and saw me as an outsider and a bit odd, something that I played up to.
And for the longest time every time I went there I was surprised, and I shouldn't have been, if I'd just looked back to how I was treated in my home town.
I got all sorts of shit when I was growing up because people couldn't quite figure out what or who I was, and I wanted the attention and didn't quite know how to go about it, and once I'd got the attention I dealt with it badly. I made everything about me.
And then when I came out, suddenly the attention stopped, the anger that I felt coming in from other people wasn't there any more. And by and large everyone was supportive. A year after I transitioned and was "living full time as female" as it says in the Gender Identity Clinic booklet I was given I found myself back in that same pub where I used to get all the aggression and anger and be the focus of confusion from blokes who were having a difficult psychological time trying to figure out who I was and took that as a direct attack at their sexuality. I was in that pub. And it was England vs Argentina in the World Cup. I felt isolated, like I stuck out, amongst all these people who I thought of as knuckle scraping mouth breathing inbred racist sexist homophobic transphobic idiots, I was terrified, for roughly the amount of time it took for England to score. the pub went wild, drinks thrown into the air, people jumping up and down and dancing, and one of the towns hard men picked me up and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
A few weeks later when some people from out of town were talking and poking fun at me from the bar, and some other of the Blokey-bloke blokes had a right go at them, something along the lines of "she might be a bit of a freak but she's our freak." Which is as close to a recommendation I would ever expect to get.
And this is why I love going to these towns and talking to these people and doing shows there, because no matter where people are, no matter what their experiences are, people are still people, and if they've made the effort to come out to a comedy night thenthey're alright by me and we've already got some common ground, because I like a laugh too.