King Leon

My name is Leon and I just work up from a long siesta. I was so full from eating that I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t do anything but lie down and rest. Let the food digest and let the day slip by. The sun was up too, shining down on my back as I lay there. Even now, even after my little sleep, I feel full. I ate too much of course, but I have a propensity to do that and lunch was incredible: meat, meat and more meat – basically a whole ox to myself. It was so good! I probably could have eaten two if my wives had brought out a second.

I ate most of it, and then I thought I better share some around. I look after my family. My wives ate after I had finished, as is tradition, and then all the children together, and then finally the rest of the family shared in the scraps. This includes some distant relatives, my servants and those that hang around and serve me however they can. They are weak, they need the strong, so they do what I say… and eat my scraps.

I’m in charge and I get to eat as much as I can before anyone else has a turn. That is the way it is and always has been. I could eat the entire beast and no one would say anything to me. No one would dare, and quite rightly too. If someone did speak up, one of my wives or sons, then no doubt I’d have to back hand them across the face to teach them a quick lesson in humility. They wouldn’t though – they know who the boss is. They may look at me a little disgruntled sometimes, and look at the platter of succulent meat licking their lips in anticipation, but if I looked their way and stared, they would turn away, avert my gaze and slink off into the darkness.

It sounds like I have it all – that the great Leon has the perfect life, but I can promise you it’s not always easy being me. Sure I get every meal brought to me by one of my wives. And yes I do have four of them, and they are all beautiful young things that fill me with excitement whenever I see them. Except of course after a big meal like this – All I want to do after a big meal is sleep, and let my stomach digest, let the strong sun warm me as I rest. Tomorrow will be a new day and I’ll think about things a bit more then. As I was saying, I am in charge and I make the decisions. There is responsibility in that. It’s hard at times, but don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I love being the King. I do what I want and when I want.

My wives have their role too. It is simple. They must find the food and prepare the meals for me and the family, and if I want a companion for the night, they must accept me into their bed. Even in the middle of the day, if I want to have one of them, one of my wives, they would let me and would not hesitate. They would welcome it. I could even go for a concubine. Find a tasty young female in the court and take her there and then in front of everyone. I don’t though; it’s too much hassle with the wives. They are a jealous bunch, jealous with each other, but more jealous with anyone else. They are quick to scare off any young beauties that happen to come by. They will fight too, attack them and drive them into the sunset. The young females pretend they have got lost and happened upon us, by I know they come with intentions, are hoping I will see them and make them my concubine. They see a life with a great ruler and they have to try.

I take the jealousy of my wives as a complement – they must really love me to fight for me as they do… and they certainly must not trust me ha-ha, but I can’t blame them for that. It is in my nature to have wandering eyes, but I don’t have the energy for more than that these days – not with four wives and a hundred ravenous children all waiting for my approval. My wives understand our situation. They even work together at times for the good of the kingdom. They probably work together better when I am not around. They go about their days, and accept what each brings to the family. That’s the contract we have. I stick with them, look after them, and they put up with each other, stick by my side and provide food and babies. That’s the only problem with having so many wives, more kids, which just means more mouths to feed, but you know sometimes I cant resist my urges even when food is scarce and the last thing our family needs is another youngster.

It is stressful being the big man on campus. I have to look after my family, protect them from the terrors of the night. Fight… I often fight. Some young punk comes along and decides he wants to be king for a day. “King for a day, make hay, because you will pay,” I say to him as I beat him senseless. I have to show him who’s boss, who’s the real king and that takes violence. I don’t particularly enjoy it – beating these young punks to a pulp, but I don’t have a choice. “Give them a blade of grass and they may take the whole field,” is what my father used to say. He was right, of course, but I am too strong and powerful and they have no chance. I don’t normally try and hurt them too badly. I just maim them, temporarily, so they walk home groggy, and don’t come back… but they always come back, for one more shot at the title and then I really try to hurt them, and sometimes kill them if they are a series threat.

I don’t know if they have an eye on one of my wives, or just want to prove themselves, and prove their worth in one last battle in the red earth of our existence. I don’t care why they do it. I just know that they aren’t going to get anywhere while I’m here. “Who is the King now?” I spit at them as trudge off the battlefield, and then I look around to those that have come to watch, to anyone that will hear, daring another challenger to come forward. No one ever does. They know who’s the king especially with the blood of a broken and battered rival lying in front of their eyes. Sometimes I feel an ache or a bruise from the fight, and I hide the pain as I walk proudly between my subjects, and slowly the chant goes up “Long Live King Leon.”  Then I know I have won the day and my rule is safe, and I can make my way home, find some shade and allow wives to tend me.

Sometime I worry about the future… when I get old. What will happen then when a strong young contender comes along and has a go, and my reflexes are fading, I am not quite as strong as I thought, or they catch a lucky break and get me when I’m unsuspecting, a cheap shot in the dark? And that’s the end of me and my reign: The end of a King. I might be a star now, a great ruler for the ages, the pride of these lands, but one day it may end… and end badly. And then what will happen to my family? Who will protect them? That’s my greatest fear. To leave my family exposed and unprotected from the wolves that wait at the door for my strength to fail. All I can hope is that when that day comes, one of my sons has grown into me, and can look after things when I am gone.

I sometimes wonder if my wives would even care if I died, if they only are with me because I can provide for them and protect them? Maybe they think they would be better off without me. They pretty much run the kingdom anyway. I know I am being paranoid, and this is what happens to any King. The fear grips you, the realisation that everyone wants to be King. They eye you with suspicion and jealousy, even the closest and most loyal of your subjects, and it turns you slowly mad. I don’t even trust my wives anymore. I know they know that I am king, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them. I get tough on them, show them who is boss. Nothing serious. I don’t hurt them; more scare them to remind them who I am. Make sure they know what happens if they cross me.

You’d think four wives would be hard work, and it probably is for most creatures out there and in most places on this earth, but not me, and not where I am from. In our world the males are in charge. We make the decisions, and the females work; they bring home the buffalo, and we eat it. My job is to sit back and enjoy my creation, watch the little ones as they grow, teach them a lesson here and there like my father taught me, and occasionally scare off a rival when they come along looking for trouble. I am the lord protector. I guess that is what makes me the King. All kings have their subjects to protect and in turn the subjects provide for the king. And when it comes down to it, when shit turns ugly, when things are not as they should, when the tribe falls apart and we turn on each other, when we find ourselves without food or water or other necessities of life, then it is the kings that takes the pressures, faces up to the flack and accepts the consequences of their decisions. We are the ones that are overthrown, and torn apart by our subjects as they fight each other for the last scraps of the kingdom. That is my lot, what keeps me or my toes, what drives me on.

It;s not all the easy life, sitting back in the warm sun, eating mountains of delicious meat, sleeping in the afternoon under a great fig tree with one of my many beautiful wives. Yes those moments are grand, and I wouldn’t change them for the world, for to change them would be to change who I am… I was born a king and I’ll die a king, and as the King, I’ll eat my fill of meat first, before the others even have a taste because when the darkness is at the gate, I’ll need as much energy as possible to fight for the kingdom.

Sometimes my wives fight with each other. They seem to want to compete to see who I like better. I say to them, “you are all equal in different ways, all special in your own way.” Savannah gets the best food and food is one of my great loves. I think she knows that I love food and live for my meals, especially if it is beef or venison… and deer is her specialty; Kat is quite the formidable fighter and I respect that in a wife – tough and fearsome, it’s very attractive; Ness looks after the youngsters best, and there are a lot of them around, so that is important, for now and for my legacy. She is a lovely golden colour like the sunsets that set over the lands each day; Okavango is my favourite to be around, especially when it it’s late at night and cold and we are camped out in the wilderness. She’s always there, by my side, knowing when to nuzzle up, knowing when to rub up against me, and remind me what’s important in life. She’s loyal too and one should never discount loyalty when one is a leader. I trust all my wives, but Kat I’m sure she’s got secret plans to leave or to get rid of me if she senses an opportunity. She is too close to our son Leo (he’s named after me of course – Leo son of Leon), which worries me because there is only room for one king, and of all my children I think he has got the most potential to one day be king. I am probably being paranoid again. He is my son after all, and maybe he just reminds me of me, when I was his age. I probably should spend some more time with him, but it is hard for it is busy being king.

The other kids… well there are too many to remember. They are everywhere, all ages, all sizes, all colours. I have some beautiful daughters, fit to marry princes of other lands when their time comes. Some of my sons are really coming along with their fighting skills, but I can’t remember all there names. I hope each grows up to king like me, but I know that’s not possible. There is only one king, and if they want their own lands and families to rule, they will have to walk off and find them. I’m not likely to hand over what I have earned. It’s tough out there and no-one expects a free lunch – except the king of course ha-ha. I don’t know who would take over from me if it came to that. It’s not a system of first born, just whoever is the strongest, whoever can fight and kill off their rivals when I die.

How I die, that is another matter. I hope it is peaceful. One day, I will walk off. I won’t tell anyone. I’ll just get up and leave and that will be the end of it. I will keep walking until I can go now farther and then I’ll lie down in the sun, under a tree perhaps and I’ll let life slip from me as the sun sets across the savannah grasses. It will be a special moment. My life will set on the red-brown earth as the sun sets across the red-orange skies. I will become the earth again, returning to the universal life from whence I came. I’ll be found by some animals no doubt, a scavenger will sniff me out and eat me, dining handsomely on the morsels that made up my body. But that’s okay. I’d rather provide food for another than go to waste and then a little bit of me will be in all those animals that share in me. And there will be a lot because there will be a lot to go around. You don’t become king by being small. The king is big – big and scary and proud. I can make others legs turn to jelly just by walking near them. They can feel my presence for miles around, without even seeing me. They are scared. They respect me. They avoid me. Keep their distance. They know I am dangerous and if I turn on them they will not survive. But I don’t waste my energy. I just use my presence, and that is usually enough to keep my subjects in line. Remind them who is king.

My name is Leon and I am a lion. I am king of the jungle, and head of my pride. Don’t mess with me or I’ll rip you apart.

Time for another sleep. Time to roar to remind everyone I am here.

suttar

Tar

Tar.

They call me Tar. It is short for my real name – Suttar. I don’t care for names though… they are just labels, and me, well I am something more that. No one calls me by my name anyway.

I live beneath the world of names. In the shadows I remain, hidden away from prying eyes. It is better this way, for when people see me they look away in disgust. They have contempt and hatred in their eyes. I don’t know why they hate me. I don’t even know them. I never met them. They just hate me because of what I am. It is sad to be hated for who you are because you cant change that. I was born this way. I hate myself sometimes because of it, because I cant change who I am, and because everyone hates me for it. I can understand hating someone for the way they act, but for me they just hate me no matter what I do.

And so I hide away from the world, live in the shadows, sleeping on the streets in places not often looked upon – in bus shelters, under park benches or in the undergrowth behind some bushes. I come out at night and only spend time with my fellow street dwellers. They are my only friends and we live the streets together. Friends because no one else what’s to know us. Friends because we understand our plight. Friends because we face prejudice together.

It’s best when those other types – the people working their jobs in the city – pretend we don’t exist. It’s easier that way. The less they know about us the better, probably for all of us, I reckon. Sometimes they raid us. It is a purge; a genocide. They come at us hard, and try to break us, destroy us and run us into oblivion. We are too smart though. Survivors can always get by, especially when you are hated by everyone. It keeps you wary and well hidden, anxious and untrusting of the others. Most of the time people don’t even notice me. And if they do, they are disgusted. I sometimes watch them and wonder what they would do if they knew I was right nearby… scream probably, and then chase me off or run away as fast they could.

I steal all my food from garbage bins. It’s not really stealing because the food has been thrown out. And I don’t want to let it go to waste. No wants it. I may as well have a nibble. Their trash is my treasure ha-ha.

I live in an alley way in the city. There is about five restaurants all in a row, and the each kitchen backs on to the alley way. There are always scraps of food, and leftovers, bags of rubbish and uneaten dinners. The chefs throw bags of this glorious food out the back, into the alley bins, and then I scurry over as quickly as possible, eat what I can before they return for smoko. I eat anything … you name it, I’ll eat it. Potato skins, fish bones, fatty meats, half eaten chicken drumsticks, chips, chunks of old fruit and veg which have gone off, cheese, pizza, anything. I don’t mind how old it is or if it is cooked or raw or half eaten. It is food, and it is better than nothing. Meat is my favourite though. I love it, and it is rare to find so always a treat.

The alley is packed with others like me. We live on the street: under bins, behind benches, anywhere there is a little shelter. When the food comes out, we all get up and head over to the bins, clawing at bags, ripping them open as quickly as possible, competing haphazardly for a shot at a meal. It is important to be quick, and to get to the leftovers first, otherwise it might all be gone, and I’ll be left foraging on the ground for the last scraps that remain. The off-cuts that not even my fellow street-dwellers want to eat.

We get on okay. They have their lives and I have mine. We are sort of in this together. At least, we know what is like to be us. We can empathise, one downtrodden brother to another, and can collectively feel r the contempt that people have for us. It brings us together, like going into battle.

Yeah we get our own food and have our own patch of land, our bed to sleep in, with a bit of straw or some old cloth.  We still know each other and communicate when we need to.  When there is a run on for food, we pile over each other to get it; grab what we can. Occasionally there is a tussle or fight, but usually it doesn’t last long, things settle down quick, and we go back to our life on the streets. Most of the others are nice enough. I haven’t got a problem with them, and as I said, we live in the shit. We are the forgotten vagrants of the world. We are treated with disdain. People sometimes try and kill us. They chase us away from a park bench, curse at us. Throw things towards us with evil intent. We can’t fight back, they are too big and too strong. And it is their society, not ours. Best to keep the head down and avoid another purge. What are we? Nothing! They would rather we didn’t exist. They hate us and call us names and make us feel worthless. Like scum. It is discrimination. And it is horrible. I now know how others must feel who have been discriminated against, for their race or colour, for what are they, for how they were born or how they choose to live.

I chose the alleyway, with my fellow friends, at the bottom of the rung. We are who we are and we are not going away. So yell at us, try and kill us, scare us away – it don’t make a difference because we are going to be here forever. We are survivors. We’ll probably out live the lot of ya.

I know this because I have been surviving for years. I have seen a lot. I have seen people come and go, restaurants open and close, things changing with the time… and I’m always here, under an old awning, by a pile of rags, I collected. It has everything I ever need. It is my warmth, my shelter, my camouflage, and my protection from the world. My patch!

I live in the rags, they are dirty like me. Although I do clean myself and wash in the nearby fountain, at night, when there is nobody about. I am cleaner than people know. They think I carry diseases, that I am unclean, and if they come near they may catch a virus or something nasty. It is not true, maybe once, someone like me had a disease which was passed on, and maybe some people died. But there are hundreds of diseases and anyone can catch them. There is no great plague in my blood. It is just hatred. Wanting to be angry at me, to be angry at us all, to claim we are all filled with disease; that we are dirty vagabonds that don’t deserve to live… well that is a lie, and awful dangerous lie that has led to the deaths of many of my friends.

Surely we can all get along. There is a spot for everyone. I keep out of the way. I live here in the alley. I don’t disturb anyone. I don’t even come out during day. I hide away, and then get out at night; scavenge some food, see what I can find on the streets. I’m doing a service – cleaning up what the others leave behind. Without me, and my lot, the streets would be filled with rubbish and leftover food scraps and then there would be disease. It would be everywhere. I don’t cause disease, I stop it.

I have had some cousins taken in by people in white coats.  I don’t know where they go, but one of them escaped and told me that he was locked in a cage and each day the people in white coats rubbed different creams on his back, and gave him injections. He thinks they were testing different creams and medicines on him, analysing their effect. He died shortly after, I think he was poisoned. Another hero dead. Another rat gone.

I am smart, I know things, I can sort things out, I can work out problems, and I always get by. I evade the traps and the poisons set for me. I am too smart for them, too street wise. That is what you get from living on street, looking after yourself all day, not trusting anyone, you learn to be smart. You have to, for there is no other way.

We are able to do things that others can’t. Our senses are heightened from this life on the street. We need our noses to survive. I bet we could sniff out bombs and others things if required. We could be helpful to this society. Instead we are looked at with disdain, treated like vile criminals. It is not fair, but I don’t care. I am who I am. If they don’t want my help, then I’ll just carry on living my life, getting by on the street.

Someday I imagine all of us fighting back, or gathering together in one big grey mass. I could get all of us from the alleyways, or all around the city, and we could stand up for our rights; walk down the street together, thousands of us as one. In a great big protest… a plague. Remind people who we are, what we are, and how proud we are as rats.

The Great Rat and Pig Discrimination

Rat based discrimination is a real problem. I don’t participate in it and have no time for it. Maybe I’m enlightened, or maybe my personal experience having pet rats affected me, made me realise that rats were animals too – and that they deserve a bit more credit than they actually get.

I owned two pet rats as a kid and have always had a great affection for them. The first was named Viv Richards after the West Indian Cricketer. The second named Ratty, not because he was a rat but as a tribute to Ratty from Wind in the Willows. Both rats would run all over our house during the day and voluntarily return to their cages at night. They were friends with the dog, avoided the two cats, and were very social, surprising clean and highly intelligent.

One day the rat escaped its cage in the garage when no one was around. The dog discovered the rat and then brought it to the back door mat where the dog kept it until the family arrived home. The dog saved my rat from the cats, and protected it until someone came home and could put it back in its cage. The rat probably knew it was in trouble when he found himself outside in the wild world, and decided that staying with the dog was his best chance of survival. It is a beautiful animal story – of friendship and survival and love. Perhaps one day it can be into a feature film – a Disney classic like the Lion King with songs and all sorts of dramatic messages.

I never had any problems with my rats, Ratty or Viv, although one did bite me on the finger. It wasn’t his fault though. I had stupidly placed honey on the tip of my finger because I wanted to give the rat a treat. He took one whiff of the honey and bit down hard on my little finger. Blood spurted out and I needed urgent medical attention, but I never blamed Ratty. It was in his nature to bite at the site of honey. I loved both of my rats. They were special animals, and both sadly died from throat cancer – caused by too much smoking, or just the stress of a strange life for a rat in a cage.

I always thought that Bruce Wayne should have gone for Ratman instead of Batman. The much maligned Rat is a superhero of sorts. They can de-mine war torn areas of the world where mines are left behind post conflict as they are doing in Mozambique and Cambodia other places where land mines are a deadly daily reality. They are used continually as a testing ground for new drugs and pharmaceuticals. If it’s good enough for the rats it’s good enough for us, well at least a backpacker desperate for some cash and who is prepared to do a human medical trial, and then if it passes that without giving the subject elephantitus, then it’s good enough for us. The rat must have saved millions of lives of the years – through the development of medicines that we would never have without rat trials. It is the great animal ally of the humans – sacrificing its life for the development of medicine for us all.

They are also highly intelligent capable creature. Plus when humans have destroyed all the other animals of the world, by taking away their habitats, it will only be those that can survive in the cities that survive. The rat may become our last friend in the animal world. It will be rats or cockroaches for man’s new best friend.

I may be biased (I have a special place in my heart for the Rat, hence why ratty was my favourite character in Wind in the Willows. They are in my top three animals – up there with the tapir and the Komodo dragon) but I think the rats deserve better treatment. I guess I have always believed that rats suffer an unfair amount of discrimination.

I’ve heard it said that rats got a bad name during the plague. They got associated with the spread of disease and never recovered. If that is so, I am starting a civil rights movement in support of the rat – Following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, and the gay and lesbian equality movement.

What do we want? AN END TO RAT DISCRIMINATION

When do we want it? NOW!

EQUAL TREATMENT FOR RATS… EQUAL TREATMENT FOR RATS.

Another animal that I believe suffers an unfair amount of discrimination is the pig. It is a very smart animal but not given anywhere near the support that a whale or dolphin receives. You don’t often see people out in the street protesting the death of a pig. We need a great big bus driving around protecting pigs from the slaughterhouse – we could call it the “Sty Warrior” or just “Wilbur” in remembrance of the world’s most famous pig from Charlotte’s Web. A brilliant pig, saved from becoming dinner by its own genius, although it is the spider that probably deserves the accolades – writing in its web each night with words that describe the pig, impressing the farmer and villagers so much that the pig is saved. If I were the farmer, I would have captured the spider and sent it off to university, and eaten the pig celebrate. Roast pork with some scratching. Sounds delightful right? And that’s the problem.

The pig is, by all accounts, a highly intelligent creature. Yet no matter how smart it is, there is hardly a restaurant I attend where pork, ribs, suckling pick or some other pig dishes doesn’t appear on the menu. It’s just too damn tasty for its own good, with too many ways to be eaten – bacon, ham, pork salami, prosciutto – the list is endless. If it hadn’t been so tasty it may be afforded the same rights as the orang-utan or the elephant: A treasure to protect and always a place in our hearts.

Even if after reading this, you still find that it’s too hard to fight for the pig, or just too easy to keep eating them, then we should at least respect them, as we munch down on another roast pork roll or ham sandwich. Respect how tasty they are, for they are truly a magnificent creature. Them and the Rats – both!

Beauty, Superficiality and Lessons from the Ugly Duckling

There is a picture of a beautiful girl on the front page of the paper. She died in tragic circumstances, before her time. It is very sad. Is it sadder because she is beautiful? Because she is slim, with curly dark hair and deep brown eyes that almost penetrate the soul as they look up from their last resting place on the front of the morning newspaper.

Would she even make the news if she was less attractive, let alone the front page? It is a question I almost don’t want to answer because I know the answer is so perverse.

When a young person dies due to a car accident or drug overdose, it seems more likely to make the news if that person is physically appealing. The less attractive the subject, the less likely their story will be reported. The news would have to be bigger, the death even more bizarre or tragic for it to be reported. Perhaps a terrorist attack or kidnapping would override the tendency toward superficiality perpetuated by media providers, whilst anything that happens to a model or beauty queen makes the news. I don’t want to be morbid here, nor am I trivialising the tragic death of anyone killed in any fashion, but one could argue that all who die before their time should be in the newspaper with an article to remember their life – All or none; certainly not just the beautiful.

I don’t think that this tendency to superficiality is found only in the media. This is a community problem that is illuminated by the stories that are reported by the media. We care more for the beautiful than the ugly, more for the fit than the fat. There is constant discrimination in favour of attractive people going on around us – for jobs, partners, friends, compliments and even conversations at a party. This is not something kept secret – Hidden away like our discriminatory protection of cute animals. It is everywhere – from marketing and advertising to media and online dating apps like Tinder. We accept the superficial as part of our make-up, as if it is just a natural part of the genetic evolution that got us here. Perhaps it has a role to play, but I don’t see how beauty benefits the species. One would think that resistance to disease would be more important in a potential mate than what they looked like, but beyond what one instinctively grasps from the release of pheromones on a first date, there is no discussion of this at all in the dating world.

I wonder if it is more environment than genetics – A trained action from years of learning. It’s been built in to the psyche from a young age where the learning comes from stories – Fairy tales involving the beautiful young dame saved from the ugly antagonist by a handsome young prince. Most children’s stories use a physical representation of beauty to describe the characters morality. The prince is always handsome and more often than not, the evil character is ugly. I don’t know if this is designed because writers don’t think children can make the distinction and need this type of physical representation of the soul to help delineate the characters, or the writers are naturally superficial from years of their own indoctrination. If a child untouched by social pressures was asked to paint a picture of a good and evil person, how would they represent them? Would there be a physical manifestation of their souls?

These stories teach us from a young age to know that beauty is good and ugliness is bad. Even the general allegories of these tales can encourage this. The only lesson I learnt from the Ugly Duckling (or the Ugly Signet as it should have been called) was that beauty equals popularity. When the duck was ugly no one liked it, yet when it turned into a beautiful swan, everyone loved it. Perhaps the moral of the story was that it doesn’t matter if you are different, things will be alright in the end, but surely there are better ways to represent this. The same could be said of Cinderella. If the writer had really wished to make a positive impact he should have made Cinderella plain or disabled. Her sisters could have been really sexy – the sexy step-sisters instead of the ugly step-sisters. They all go to the ball. The fairly average looking prince meets the whole family but falls in love with Cinderella despite her disability. And they live happily ever after, well until they get a divorce. But it doesn’t really matter for the point of the story is not the ‘happily ever after’, but that the prince accepts her for who she is – despite her disability and physical appearance – he see her true inner beauty.

Even with help as a child from the lessons of the revised Cinderella, I may still have ended up with a degree of superficiality in my nature. On an individual level there will always be a level of physical attraction that affects choices in partners and this may cause a general discrimination toward the beautiful, but if we look at things for a little longer and see the beauty in all then perhaps this could change too.

The Greek or Eastern philosophers would tell you there is beauty in everything. Look at a lamppost long enough and you will see beauty in its elegant frame and its purpose – providing light in the darkness. Beauty radiates from within all inanimate and animate objects illuminating their cosmic creation and the infinite chance and incredible nature in every life there is.

There is beauty in everyone. Perhaps all that live and die should make the newspaper – one last story to tell the world of that person’s inner beauty and their positive affect upon the world.

ant-genocide

The Great Ant Genocide

The ants were everywhere. They were scurrying all over the laundry floor. Most were headed to and from the cat’s food bowl, implicating it as the cause of this mild infestation. My girlfriend yelled out – swearing in her native Portuguese – then ran off to the laundry to fetch some foul poisonous white powder, which she scattered over the ants with careless abandon. Genocide of mass proportions!

“Murderer” I castigated in one last desperate attempt to save those poor ants.

“We have to get rid of them.” She replied. “They are everywhere.”

And she was right – they were everywhere. But it didn’t mean we had to poison them, nor even kill them. Surely they would leave once the cat food had been cleaned up and taken to the ant’s nest for dissemination amongst the colony. I imagine that the ants had better things to do than move into our humble abode. For one, they couldn’t afford the rent – not in the city.

The question is why kill ants at all? Why kill any insects or creatures of this world? Let them live their lives in peace. They may come into your home for a visit and some may even stay too long, like an unwanted friend living on the couch, but he’s still a friend so you let him stay whilst he tries to find a job.

Even cockroaches have a right to life. What about mosquitoes? No, that’s probably taking things too far. They deserve to die right? It’s survival instinct. Kill or wake up with itchy bites on your ankle; kill or don’t sleep a wink as they buzz around your head; kill or be killed in the fight for survival. After all, mosquitoes are the most deadly animal in the world if one considers the magnitude of deaths throughout the developing world due to malaria and Dengue fever. A few great white sharks on the loose along the local surf spots has everyone bleating with fear, but even the mighty great white has nothing on the deadly mosquito… Sometimes the tiny flying insect is mightier than the shark. Jaws – huh!! It should have been ‘The Revenge of the Giant Mosquito’ that had children in the 80s petrified.

The other insects of this planet – the harmless ones – flies, cockroaches, ants, bugs, beetles, butterflies, crickets and moths, deserve our empathy and to live out their lives in peace. Especially the ants, for they are an example to us all – a bastion of communal living. If humans could be more like ants – working together for the collective as Marx had envisaged or the hippies in San Francisco had dreamed before Charlie Manson turned up – surely the world would be a better state; less death, less destruction and a sustainable earth for future generations to tarry in for centuries to come. Instead we humans have gone for a different system, the antithesis of the ant – use up everything on the planet, consume its food and resources, kill each other, and greedily take whatever one can during their short stay on the earth.

My girlfriend just wiped out a huge number of these beautiful creatures.  Maybe, in an effort to hide the harmony of their collective lifestyles, so we cannot see our own failures.

The ants are being destroyed and no one seems to care. My cat walks in and my girlfriend gives it a big loving cuddle. I don’t see her poisoning the cat. She’d be terribly upset if the cat got it like the ants, but why?

Why do some animals deserve life more than others? Why is it a shame to kill a panda but not a rabbit, an elephant but not a sheep, a swan but not a goose, a turtle but not a fish?  Should not all “Gods” creatures be treated equally?

I’ve racked my brains and there appears no rational explanation. There is no clear line delineating the worthy creatures from the unworthy. Nor do these pontificating thoughts help the ants facing genocide in my house today. They are like the last citizens to be hung in a country coming to the end of state sanctioned execution, where outrage at their deaths finally boils over and the death penalty is ended forever… too little too late for those last souls, but at least the ants that find their way into my house in the future might have a better chance than those lying slain on the floor.

Why are some animals treated better than others? Why do humans protest the slaughter of whales but don’t care about fish?  I have no idea, but there are some traits that seem to be considered better in the classism of species. Intelligence helps some animals – such as dolphins and elephants but others like the rat and pig are smart but considered dirty or diseased. The pig is probably too tasty for its own good – Its intelligence forgotten in the taste of a pork spare rib. Beauty can protect mammals like the panda or parrots like the toucan, but beauty is subjective and all animals are beautiful is some way.

The rareness of animal is also relevant. The less of something there is the more desirous it becomes. There are heaps of rabbits so to lose a few doesn’t seem to concern us, nor ants or any other creature in excess. The problem with this argument is that there are about seven billion homo-sapiens.

The tiger is beautiful and rare but this is outweighed by the belief in parts of Asia that the tiger can cure disease and stave off death. The rhinoceros’s horn is rare and a prized possession for some, which means it’s always on the brink of extinction and that’s not likely to change despite last ditch efforts to save it. I fear it may be too little too late for the tiger and the rhino, but humans often band together to try to save an animal when it is facing extinction. This might be because we care about the animal or it may just be guilt arising from the knowledge that it was humanity that took the species to the point of extinction in the first place.

Humans are also more likely to protect an animal if it is more like a human, such as our closest cousins the apes, and dogs which live with us and share similar emotions to us. I think people just have natural propensity to care about things that are closer to them, be it by look, location or thought. Of course the dog is eaten in parts of Asia, but that may have been born out of necessity. Anyone appalled by this probably should consider how the Hindu community feels about people eating their sacred cow.

It seems that one of the big factors in determining the worth of animal’s life is food – both taste and necessity. Surely everyone would eat a dog or a turtle or an elephant if it meant surviving – even another human? You’ll have to ask Richard Parker or those folks whose plane crashed in the Andes.

We kill each other in droves, over religion and politics and land, over nation states and resources. So why not kill the animals too? And that includes those humble ants. Living their lives as one entity – a thousand ants, all limbs of the one creature – working in perfect harmony for the good of the colony – A beautiful synergy of energy; communal living at its purest. It makes one think that the ant is fairly smart, and there is a beauty in the way they live their lives.

All the ants are dead now – wiped out by my girlfriend’s ant killer that she bought at the local hardware store to deal with such infestation. Their bodies are brushed up carelessly from the ground and chucked into the garden where they will make good fertiliser for the basil.

They get their revenge though….

A few months later, on a bushwalk near Brooklyn my girlfriend is bitten by half a dozen fire ants whilst I am untouched. We are both wearing flip-flops so my only conclusion is that my long legs mean I have taken fewer steps and therefore there is less chance of being bitten. Then it struck me… This is the ant’s revenge.

At one point my girlfriend is walking just behind me. I go over a little crest and hear her scream, and see her standing near a nest with about five fire ants throwing themselves at her feet – without care for their safety, biting hard and causing pain.

It is an incredible sight to see these little ants, each no more than two millimetre high, ferociously attacking a fully grown human more than 600 times higher. This would be analogous to a one kilometre high giant ant walking over your house and instead of running away in fear you run straight at the creature and launch yourself at its feet, biting and scratching and kicking. Incredible! That is courage – and I have to throw my support behind the ants as they fly at her and bite down hard on her feet. How could you not? This is David and Goliath stuff, but more incredible – it’s like me attacking a mountain with a pitchfork – insanity maybe – but brilliant too. If only the Lion had met an ant in the Land of Oz instead of Dorothy.

I’m glad the ants got their revenge. It may not be full reparations for what they went through during the infamous Laundry Floor Massacre, but it’s a start and maybe next time they appear in my house, removing some spilt food, they will be left alone to carry out their business.

Mushrooms

Mushroom Tea and The Mayan Healer

Navarro the Mayan Healer passed me a cup of boiling mushroom tea. He had been boiling the tea for about twenty minutes. He told me that this was necessary for the tea to have its full effects. A few shriveled-up white mushrooms sat atop the hot tea like croutons in soup. I let the tea cool for a moment.

“Where do the mushrooms grow,” I ask?

“Everywhere,” he says with a smile. “This is the mushroom village.”

I drink a sip of the hot tea, expecting the taste to be less than pleasant. I have tasted hallucinogenic mushrooms in many parts of the world and they have an awful taste in common, of course they also share the ability to break one through the doors of perception. This time, however, they taste good. Well the tea at least tasted good and the mushrooms were in the tea.

Prior to the team, my body had been cleansed with a traditional Mayan sauna using various local herbs and medicines to smoke out the impurities in my body. I had sat with my companion in a tiny dark igloo with burning hot rocks pushed together in the middle, and a bucket filled with cleansing tea which was splashed periodically on the fire to create smoke, and heat and sweat.

Now, I was about to have my soul cleansed with mushrooms. The Mayan peoples had used mushrooms to touch God, to connect with the source. People have used drugs of all kinds since the dawn of humanity in order to relax, to find energy, to socialise and interact with our fellow Man, to create, to connect, to feel love or a sense of solace with life and death and God. It strikes me that drug-taking is as much a part of the human condition as sex, food or shelter, and has had as much impact on our development as fire. The prohibition of drugs is a recent thing, which overlooks the intertwined history of drugs and humanity. At least to Navarro the Mayan Healer, this is just part of existence.

“Are the mushrooms all edible around here?” I ask.

“No, there are poisonous ones as well. My Grandmother taught me what to look for. I lived with her in the jungle and she taught me the Mayan way. She’d slap me if I got the herbs mixed up. I learnt soon enough.” Navarro replied. “I wouldn’t go picking them without knowing. That would be dangerous. And you could end up dead if you ate the wrong one.”

“How many people must have died so we can tell which mushrooms are edible and which ones are not?” I respond. He nods. “Plenty of people must have got high trying,” I add, laughing.

It makes me wonder about all those people that had taken risks and eaten something they had stumbled upon, unaware of what it was, but happy to try it and find out if it was safe and edible for the future. That collective knowledge passed on through time so we now know what we can eat and what we can’t. Men and women must have died across the world trying mushrooms and berries and fish. From that we, as a species, learnt which fruit can be eaten and which not, which berries to pick and which to leave alone, which fish to catch and cook, and which to throw back to the ocean. This is even more evident for the mushrooms, with possibly the most potent capacity of all. Some types of this powerful fungus provide an incredible food with a delicate almost meaty taste that has no semblance of flavour that can be found in any other food. Other types cause people to get high and hallucinate, see incredible colours, create stories, and reach out beyond the senses. And finally other types of mushrooms can kill. I read an article once about some poor boys ending up in hospital after buying some poisonous mushrooms at a supermarket. The poisonous mushrooms had been mixed in with some harmless edible ones, and had looked the same to the untrained eye. The boys had nearly died.

“There are some mushrooms that block up the throat and stop you breathing in minutes,” Navarro says after some time, as if he knew what I was thinking.

I drink my tea, swallowing a few of the mushrooms cautiously. I consider for a second that these may be those very same mushrooms… but then I trust in Navarro and his Mayan Grandmother. Sometimes you just have to trust, and let fate decide. They are okay. My throat doesn’t swell up and I gulp down some more of the tea with greedy anticipation of the time to come.

“There are others that kill you over a week,” he says solemnly. I suddenly feel slightly agitated once more.

“Yes, they destroy the liver, I have heard,” my companion adds. “Or maybe it’s the kidneys.”

What an amazing plan – Growing in the dung and the wet dirt at the bottom of any garden patch; small and hardly visible without a keen eye to spot their dome-like heads… deadly, brilliant, tasty little fungi.

My tea is almost finished. At the bottom of the brown earthen mug are a few scraggily-looking mushrooms. I grasp at them with my fingers and throw them into my mouth. I hope these last ones are fine. What a tragedy if one is poisonous and I don’t even get to enjoy this last magical mushroom experience in the beautiful mountains of San Jose. They are squishy to taste, but not so bad. I have had worse. I wash them down with water. According to Navarro, it will only be twenty minutes before the effects take hold. I better get to a safe place, find a garden somewhere to relax and watch the local humming birds buzz around the trees.

“Banana will help if it gets too much,” Navarro says before we leave. “The potassium reverses the effect of the mushroom, levels things out.”

That’s always nice to know. The planet has provided mushrooms to take you away from it all and see the creation for what it truly is, and then there are bananas to bring you back to the practical reality where we reside. I’m just glad that someone many thousands of years ago found the banana and was willing to take a risk in eating it; to die trying if necessary.

All humans have a great debt to those that have gone before, especially the ones that died eating the wrong berry or fish or mushroom – poor souls. At least their deaths were not in vain, and the species was better off for it. They are true heroes to humanity. We should have a day to celebrate their contribution – For the heroes that died so we may eat so many lovely foods and so we may even have a mushroom trip on occasions.

the-sun-god

The Sun is God

The Aztecs, who lived in Mexico for a few thousand years before the Spanish arrival, were known to play a ball game a bit like volleyball but with no net. The ball represented the path of the sun or moon as it was battered back by each of the opponents using hips, knees and elbows. Points could be attained by hitting discs along the court and the game won by sinking the four-kilogram rubber ball through a small ring in the centre. The game was often used to settle disputes and was played in front of the high priests in long alley like stadiums. The losers were often sacrificed to the Sun God.

I like this. Not the discriminate sacrifice of young able-bodied Aztecs, but the concept of a religion based upon sun worship. It seems to me that the Aztecs were right – the sun truly is God. Here are some reasons why it makes sense that the sun be The God, or at least a God, for us all to worship.

Firstly, you can see the sun. It is there each day. Rising every morning to remind you of its existence and setting each evening with blistering beauty just for show. It is one of the few Gods of the human experience that one can actually see. Its presence is not beyond the realms of our senses, and its existence is not reduced to faith.

Of course if one can see The Sun and it also has the other elements of a God, then surely it must join the pantheon of Gods resting beside Buddha, Jesus, Allah and Zeus in Mount Olympus.

The Sun gives us light. Let there be light one God had commanded early in the Genesis of the Universe. The Sun gives light of its own accord without the need for an order. It is a huge blob of nuclear fusion hanging in space, giving off indescribable amounts of energy and heat to the solar system and to our humble earth. Heating it like a warming fire and keeping it alive and protected from the deadly cold of space.

Humanities first great invention was fire. It was probably the key to the great human migration and our early evolution as a species. Yet fire was just energy – a microcosm of the sun’s great heat. We were trying to replicate the sun in a small way, trying to copy our God in the heavens above in order to keep us warm and keep the darkness at bay on the ground below.

Our day, our time of work, is defined by the sun. From sunrise to sunset we act as humans – creating, building and working. And when the sun disappears, we sleep, rejuvenating our bodies for the return of the sun.

Without the sun there is no life. No plants, no animals, no trees, nothing in the seas, nothing in the air, nothing. Life needs heat and energy and light – all of which come from the mighty sun. The Sun is life!

The Sun is sublime. Its beauty transcends that of the earth. It is beyond it, from the universe looking down. It is a star, but even more special than all the other stars in the universe, for it is the only star that gave life. The earth helped, providing the right soil for the seed to grow, but the sun pulled it in to orbit and pelted it with energy and light until like magic, our world started to grow, and grew it did, from a seedling to a untamed forest.

I saw a sunset last evening that was a sensation to behold. The sun hung over the vast ocean like a golden Chinese lantern. Colours exploded from all sides – an amber hue covering a ghostly pink and then a gentle velvet blue slipped into the sea. Deep red and ethereal orange appeared from the intense spot of energy that had created this masterpiece; this wonder for all to see.

As I sat in my chair upon the beach and looked out at the majestical sunset, I thought of God. This must truly be God. Everywhere I looked there were others like me, sitting or lying, and looking out at the sun and the colours it had made across the sky. I realised then that we were all paying homage – homage to the Sun. A ritual practiced all over the world as people head to cliffs and beaches, or just look out from their homes as the sun sets for another day.

To watch a sunset perched atop a rock is to touch God. And we can all reach and touch as humans have done since the dawn of time. It’s easy to see why the Mayans and Aztecs had seen God in that Sun.

The Sun is everything. Our light, life, energy and heat, and it should be our God. Each day we are reminded of its eternal presence. Not forced to pray and make homage, just subtly reminded of its beauty and power – of its impact upon our existence and its necessity for creation. It doesn’t judge, it doesn’t deceive, it doesn’t hate, it doesn’t hide in mysterious places – it sits atop the world, outside the heavens and the earth – and fills it with life and energy and reminds us all of its transcendental beauty.

A truly great God would give itself entirely to the life it created. The sun will burn on until it burns itself out, and with it, all the life we have ever known – For the Sun is Life and Life the Sun.

I look up now and see the hot sun burning down. I salute you Lord Sun and give myself to you – A sun worshiper like the Aztecs of the past, which reminds me that I better find someone to sacrifice to this Sun God. To remind it to keep burning bright for me; to tell it that I am here and listening, that I am faithful to the cause and have committed myself to it. A true God like the Sun wouldn’t care. It’s not egotistical and doesn’t require worship. It is going to burn on for burning on sake – for life, for all – and the worship or failure of a little man like me won’t change that.

Still I really ought to sacrifice somebody…

How about a game of that Aztec ball game? We all play. The loser gets sacrificed. Funnily enough, archeologists and historians are unsure if it was the losing side or the winners of that ancient ball game that were actually sacrificed. Apparently it was a great honour to be sacrificed to the Sun God. The greatest honour an Aztec could have.

No one seems particularly keen to be sacrificed, so I’ll just write a little tribute to the sun instead.

To The Sun – Keep smiling upon the earth. Keep shining your great light. Keep burning yourself to warm us. Keep sending forth your energy to keep us living. You created life and you are our life. 

watermelon-no-seeds

Watermelon Seeds, Blue Eyed Babies and the Brave New World of Genetic Modification

I bite into a chunk of watermelon. It is refreshing in a way that only watermelons are. There are no seeds of course – there have been no seeds for years.

When I was younger, watermelons always had cumbersome black seeds scattered throughout – seeds that had to be removed during the eating experience. They were large and slippery, and awful to taste if accidentally bitten during the mastication process. It was very frustrating, for a watermelon should be eaten quickly and without care.

Watermelon seeds have gone the way of the humble toll collector and the tape recorder; belonging to a different time. Of course technological advancement in man-made appliances is easier to fathom than vast changes in fruit. Fruit is natural and from the earth; grown from a seed and not in a laboratory. Any significant adaptations are always concerning.

So what happened to these seeds? Where have they gone?

It appears that the growing process has been modified genetically or otherwise… Bigger watermelons, with more flavour and more of the fleshy pink fruit, but smaller and fewer seeds, and over generations the seeds have disappeared completely (or become so small one can hardly notice them).

It’s easy to see why this was undertaken. The seeds were not adding any value to the watermelon at all. In fact it was quite the opposite. It was an unnecessary distractions taking away from the general good taste of that fine fruit.

So they got rid of them completely, or at least reduced them significantly. Used the watermelons with less seeds to breed more watermelons with even less seeds, or just genetically modify the seed gene right out of there. The same practices are used in almost all farming from breeding fatter pigs to adapting grains to tolerate various pesticides and engineering fruits to look and taste a certain way – Greener apples, more orange oranges, and more beautiful food for all.

Imagine what the future may hold for fruit and vegetables – bananas with no bend in them, onions that don’t make you cry, curry favoured broccoli, potatoes that tastes like pizza –it all sounds very appealing, and imagine the benefit when young children around the world eat their greens without complaint – stuffing their eager faces with cheesy sprouts, chocolate cauliflower and other tasty but nutritious vegies. But is a potato that tastes like pizza really a potato? Or is it some mad scientists dream? And where does one draw the line between small changes and complete genetic overhaul? Between speeding up the evolutionary process and completely annihilating it? When are we encroaching on the realms of God? And is this the path we want to take?

Removing watermelon seeds has made eating a watermelon a more pleasant experience. Shall that same test be used with genetic change in the human reproductive experience? Was the watermelon just a test and people are next?

I read recently that people can now determine the eye colour of their children or other such physical traits. Is this the beginning of the super children – created by parents in the image of anyone they choose – to look and sing like a favourie pop idol?  A gene for eye colour inserted here, a splash of auburn hair there, a touch of empathy (but not too much of course), plenty of drive and determination and a dose of charm to get them through the day.  A perfect little baby created just the way mum and dad wish them to be… but is that pushing the role of parents too much? Surely the child should have a choice in this. It’s not like a bad name that can be changed later in life if the parents get too whacky. Admittedly 18 years with a name like La-a (pronounced La-dash-a) may seem like eternity to a child stuck with it. But it’s not forever and there are ways around it. You can call yourself ‘La’ for one. Genetic modification permanently alters the genetic code with no way back.

And where does it end? If a parent wants to make their child incredibly small or big, or with the added advantage of having an extra arms, or to resemble a wolf to give the youngster a better chance of making it in Hollywood, at least in playing the oft required role of movie werewolf.

It is not hard to see the merits to using genetic modification to rid the world of nasty diseases, or crippling disabilities. But even then there are some tough ethical questions such as what diseases or disabilities should be removed, and what are we saying about those in our society with a disability that we then try to eradicate? Some of humanities greatest people have been great precisely because they are different. They thought outside the box. Saw the wold in a different way and created things humanity never dreamt of. We are not in Nazi Germany. Difference and even disability should be celebrated not destroyed with the intention of creating some perfect race.

What about superficial changes, and personalities? Is it ethical to manipulate personality? Should we make everyone beautiful, remove the sociopath gene or just increase the serotonin levels in every young brain so that general contentment is raised – Brave New World Style. Is this the end of evolution as we know it? Replaced by a modern form of genetic manipulation where babies are designed in laboratories and then inserted into the womb.

Looking at this future and the last of my juicy watermelon I can’t help but wonder if maybe the watermelon seeds weren’t that bad after all. There was an appreciation for the taste of the fruit that was earned through the hard work of actually eating it – just as a worker that has worked hard all year may really appreciate the Christmas holidays in a way others cannot. Sometimes the hard things in life make it all worthwhile. Maybe a watermelon without a seed is too good – too easy to enjoy and not what a watermelon should be, just as a holiday from a holiday is not really a holiday at all.

And maybe the different talents, looks and personalities amongst humanity are so special because they are random and rare, and if everyone looked or thought a certain way or was equally good at this or that, then there would be a mediocrity to it all that destroyed what it really meant to be human.

wash-your-hands

Wash your hands before going to the toilet

I was at a bar, in the toilet area. I’d just gone for a pee and was about to open the door and exit, when I heard a gruff voice from behind me.

“Are you going to wash your hands buddy?”  

I turned around, and standing before me was a big burly stranger, bearded and menacing looking. He looked like he could knock me out with one mighty blow from his old gnarled hand. He obviously saw himself as the hygiene police as well – keeping people clean and sanitised throughout the lands. Despite his authority on the matter, it appeared to me that he’d got things wrong and was stuck believing a nonsensical tradition; a tradition widely accepted throughout society without question. Just as slavery had once been accepted; just as racial prejudices and sexual discrimination were ingrained in culture; just as homosexuality had been deemed a psychiatric problem that could be fixed with strong electrical impulses to the brain and reprogramming with pictures of nude women.

“No, I already have washed my hands… but I did it before I went for a piss of course”

I replied and then ducked out before he could respond.

There was no way that I was going to go to the toilet and touch my clean penis without washing my hands. I’d showered that morning, washed my genitals with soap then packed them away in my underpants. There they had stayed all day, clean and untouched by the world and its grime.

My hands had had a far differed day. They had been washed in the shower too, but since then had faced the grubby world without break. Greeting people with handshakes, typing at a computer, opening doors and closing them, grabbing posts and poles and handrails – all touched a thousand times by a thousand strangers. Lastly, I had gone to the pub, ordered myself a beer, which I had paid for with some coins that had been in my pocket. Those coins had likely been in circulation for a few years, moving from one hand to the next without discrimination.

Who was the person before me who’d used the coin? I am not exactly sure – but the change had come from a coffee shop that morning when I’d ordered my routine caffeine hit to kick start the day. The customer before me had no doubt left the coins. It didn’t matter who they were. They could have been the cleanest person that had ever walked this earth – A walking sanitizer complete with baby wipes and disinfectant gel. It didn’t matter if they were for they had got the coins from somewhere. An infinite exchange of coins from one person to another, from pocket to cash register, from purse to person, on to the floor and back up again, into banks and out, through one hand and on to the next, to charity tins and newspaper stands, to busker’s hats and into the hands of hobos and vagrants and bankers and bus-drivers.

A homeless man with nothing had those coins. He begged all day outside a train station to collect enough to buy a bottle of cheap wine. The bottle-shop owner had paid his casual student employee with those same coins. A fifty dollar note and a few coins for the three hour evening shift. The student had gone down to the coffee shop the next morning and bought himself a latte to get him through a long day of study. His exams were close and he loved nothing more than a morning coffee and a roll-your-own cigarette before he began. That same lad had been a few customers in front of me when I’d bought my coffee. I was working full-time so my dreams were a little less exuberant than the students. Life had knocked me round a little, but we both turned to the coffee bean in a moment of understanding. The waitress smiled and gave me my change. The change that the student had given her, and his boss at the bottle-shop had given him and the bum had given to boss at the bottle-shop. The same change that a flu ridden child had given to the bum as she asked her mum if it was alright to give that poor dirty beggar fifty cents of her money from a purse she carried hoping to look older than her seven years of age.  Her mother had been a little hesitant at first, but there was a genuine empathy in her daughter for the plight of the homeless man, and the mother didn’t want her to lose that just yet.

That was her coin that I had carried and used at the bar. The last thing my hands had touched last before the beer had made its way quickly through my body, and into my bladder. You’ve got to go when you’ve got to go right? And I did go, but the first thing I did as I went into that grubby bathroom with graffiti on the toilet doors and a condom vending machines hanging precariously on the wall, was wash my hands. My hands which had held those coins that had been through a thousand hands before they reached mine. The hands that had opened the brass door handle of the toilet, had brushed past another man in the bar drinking away the last remaining hours of his day. Those hands were dirty and my penis was clean. It had been tucked away in my underpants all day without a glimpse of the sunshine or the city life I lead. There was no way I was taking it out for that much needed piss without giving those hands a descent scrub – Sanitising them for my sanitised penis.

I must wash away the grime from my hands before it rubs off on other more susceptible parts of the body. This is a pretty important part of anatomy we are talking about. This is where my sexual pleasure is attained, and one day it may have big part to play in procreation and the furthering of my genes. You cannot be too careful when it is involved.

Sure I could wash my hands before and after like a surgeon, but I am not a germ freak so once is enough for me, and there’s no way I am going to wash my hands after going to the toilet but not before. That is absurd, and would be like the surgeon washing his implements after he’d finished his surgery but going straight in with an old rusty scalpel.

As I zipped up my fly and turned to the door I heard a gruff voice behind me:

“Are you going to wash your hands buddy?”

No way man – my hands a clean – I washed them before I went. All they have done since is touch my beautiful clean penis and helped it let out a long sterile pee. They are cleaner than they will ever be.

I looked back at the man and smiled.

“The question is did you wash yours before you went?”