RIP, Bettina

2016 has been a year when many celebs have died.  November 2016 was also when a non-celeb died.  (I hate that euphemism, “to pass away.”  What does that expression mean, anyway?)  Bettina, my ex-colleague from my first “posting” to Germany in 2000-2003, died “after a long illness” (the favourite euphemism for cancer, never chronic arthritis or backache).

When you’re moaning about the your bus being late, or your email server being down, or strolling round the just-opened German Christmas markets, please spare a thought for Bettina’s soul, her friends and her family.

Nobody wants to die early.  Nobody wants to die slowly.  Nobody wants to die.

I remember going to one funeral six years ago.  The minister said:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for B’s life.  We thank you for her death.

Yes, we do thank you for her death.  We want to live.  Do we really want to merely exist, in pain and suffering?  I don’t.  We thank You, God, for Your grace and ask You to welcome Bettina into Your arms.

Have a peaceful day, won’t you!

Ladykiller

“Avid” (ahem) readers of this blog will know from previous articles that I have a few claims to fame.  I also have a link to notoriety, namely: my room-mate in my first year at university went on to murder his girlfriend.  The number 1 question I am asked is:

What was he like?

It is the aim of this article to offer you a insight into the character of a convicted murder.  I’ll start with a look at the stereotype of a murder, the reality, then I’ll move onto two key aspects of his personality.

The Stereotype

The stereotype of a murderer can be summed up thus:

Well, he was a bit of a loner.

That was never the case with John.  He was, to use his words from his press conferences, “…outgoing, a lover of life, with everything to live for…”  He was:

  • Very extrovert
  • Jovial
  • A charmer
  • A keen cricketer
  • A keen footballer
  • A keen drinker
  • A keen electric guitarist and rock musician
  • A bit of a “jock” (to use an American expression)
  • The “life and soul of the party”

Again, contrary to the stereotype, he had a wide circle of friends and a never-ending string of girlfriends.  (By heck, was I – as a slightly nerdy lad, a ginger Adrian Mole, from the council estates of Redcar – jealous of his success with women!)

The reality was, however, not so attractive.  John had two aspects of his personality lurking below the surface. Let’s be blunt about it.  They were not likeable aspects.

Aspect 1: Passive Aggression

Quite ironic, now I think about it.  The last article I shared was a humorous one on passive aggression.  The irony has not been lost on me.  In psychology, passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a habitual pattern of passive resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, sullenness, stubbornness, and negative attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected of others.  In John passive aggression manifested itself in many ways.

  • Days before his birthday, in my presence, his friends went to his part of our room, took his prized poster of a scantily-clad model (reclining atop a sports car) off the wall, then repositioned the poster on the wall, with the back showing.  When I came back to our room that evening, I found that he was in bed, not even pretending to be asleep, and had placed a key in the door lock to prevent me from getting our room.  After nearly an hour of desperately knocking on the door, pleading with him, together together with neighbours, for him to open the door, ending with me being on the verge of tears and needing to sleep, he finally let me in.  The following day no more was said – from either side.  From my side – don’t provoke him any further.  From his side – he knew he had done wrong, but did not have the round objects to talk about it.
  • The stories of the laundry room key.  Each room was given a key to the hall laundry room.  The catch was, the resident had to sign for the key and had to pay a five pounds deposit, returnable on safe return of the key at the end of the year.  So far, so good.  One laundry key per room.  I signed for it.  I got it.  I paid the deposit on it.  So far, so good.  I used to keep the laundry room key on my desk.  John would take it when he needed to go to the laundry.  So far, so good. Then one day, I decided to place the key on my book shelf to keep the desk a bit tidy.  Seeing the key on my book shelf, John marched up to me, grabbed me with both hands by the front of my shirt and snarled, “You’re not having the monopoly on that.”  Rather than explain that I had paid the deposit and that he could still use the key, I took it on the chin (nearly literally).
  • And there’s more!  Days before the end of the year, I was looking to do a batch of laundry.  John had been to the laundry hours beforehand.  Now he was sitting by his desk, playing his guitar.  I asked him for the key.
    • I haven’t got it.

    • But you had it this morning when you went to the laundry.

    • I haven’t got it.

    • Well, could you just have a quick look, please?

John just carried on humming, strumming and singing to himself, clearly not interested, not a “team-player.” Not even the common courtesy of pausing even for a second. Doubtless I’ve slighted him earlier in the day, and this was his passive aggressive way of “punishing” me.  Kiss goodbye to five pounds deposit, I was by now thinking.  Then the following morning an announcement: He had found the laundry key. Followed by a profuse apology for the hassle last night.  Ha, you gotta be joking!  It had fallen into his bag of condoms.  (Yes, I’m such a lady’s man, I need a bag of them.)

Now, getting fret up about a laundry key might seem petty on my part.  Lke the chocolate bar you stole from the communal fridge, it’s “only a key,” but maybe you saw the bigger picture of the (passive) aggression when dealing with peers.  These are just a small sample of his actions, others relating to his attitude towards women.  Perhaps for a later article.

Aspect 2: The “Great ‘I am'”

John’s other character trait was the “great ‘I am'” attitude.  How to explain it?    Let’s have two examples.

  1. John came back in a foul mood one day, complaining to me, hardly able to contain his anger, that his then girlfriend was f***ing useless in bed, in the same way that you might complain that the babysitter had sneaked into your bedroom and sneakily looked through all your private diaries.  Hey, folks, I was still very much inexperienced with woman.  Any bed action with a woman would have made me happy!  How dare she not enjoy sex with him?  She should have realised he was a real ladykiller.
  2. Again at evening meal in the canteen, I greeted him with a cheery, “How are you doing?”  He “greeted” me with an arrogant jut of the chin in my direction and, “Whatcha rapping on about?”  How dare this f’ing ginger speak to me when I want to have my dinner?

Before university, he had, in fact, been a tutor at a cathedral school.  Just as an ex-military man has left the Army, he is still a soldier, maybe John still considered himself senior and superior to those around and under him.  “Do as you’re told.  I’m in charge here.”

Conclusion

It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  Wrong.  It’s the life and soul of the party types you have to watch out for.  Great fun, as long as things are fun and you dance to their tune.  But cross them, and see what happens.

  • Don’t help out with a good-natured prank on him.
  • Don’t even think of having the monpoly on that key.
  • Don’t be a timid, inexperienced lover.
  • Don’t have the audicity to reject his obsessive, browbeating behaviour.

Have an insightful day, won’t you!

Sunray Heading Downhill

Sunray.  His children used to call him “Dad.”  His daughter nowadays calls him “the sperm-donor.”  He’s been a  “problem child” all his married life and in the years thereafter.  Serial borrower.  Serial non-payer-back.  Heavy drinker.  Alcoholic.  Serial nuisance caller, trawling his address book for people to phone up to fifteen times a day.  Serial texter.  “U R ME PAL”; “CUM N SEE ME”; “GET ME A BTL OF ROSE PLS”.

I used to write to him every week or two, either a proper type-written letter or a postcard to boost his morale.  I used to phone him once a month.  Has he ever written back?  Once this year.  He now has a professional caseworker from the Royal British Legion, the Armed Forces charity.  Her summary to me?  “Yes, he’s a very difficult case.”

So, what’s the future.?  It’s not bright.  It’s not orange.  When someone is that deep in the rut of late-stage alcoholism combined with borderline personality disorder or sociopathy, there’s little you can do.

  • Poor physical health
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity
    • Osteoarthritis of both knees
  • Estranged from most of his family
  • No real, flesh-and blood, friends in his locality
  • The kind of personality that means people give you a “wide berth” (his favourite expression)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Etc etc

Does he actually want to live any more?  What are the reasons to live any more?  To even get out of bed?  Would death be a relief for him?

Choose the action, choose the consequences.

Have a consequential day, won’t you!

Texting in the Wee Small Hours

Victor has always been a news and current affairs buff.  He’s also more of an early bird than a nightowl.  As he’s grown older, he’s become ever fonder of his undisturbed sleep.  Hence his bedtime routine consisting of:

  • Clean teeth
  • Empty bladder
  • Stick Radio 4 on for the late night news
  • Turn mobile phone off

His son, on the other hand, has always been a nightowl, with a bladder the size of a pea.  Hence at every nocturnal loo break, he’d text Victor with a snippet, eg:

 

  • Family in-jokes
  • Words to song Victor used to like singing
  • News headlines

etc etc…

At 05:00 one morning, son got up, went to loo, climbed back into bed and listened to the Radio Five news.

Big headline was that Kim Jong-il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had died.

Time to send a text to Sunray.  He can read it on regaining consciousness.

KIM JONG IL NOW DEAD

Message sent.  Now to catch another hour or two of sleep.

Peep-peep.  Incoming text message.

WHO THE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] IS HE

Reply from son:

President of North Korea

Sunray:

NOT [EXPLETIVE DELETED] INTERESTED MY FRIEND

Oh well, no pleasing some people, I guess.

Days later…  a constant stream of updates by text from Sunray to son, giving details of the deceased President’s funeral cortege and wailing crowds.  Suddenly he was interested, after all.

Have an interesting day, won’t you!

Yer Get Out What Yer Putin…

Stalin’s ghost appears to Putin in a dream, and Putin asks for his help running the country.

Stalin says:

“Round up and shoot all the democrats, and then paint the inside of the Kremlin blue.”

“Why blue?” Putin asks.
“Ha!” says Stalin. “I knew you wouldn’t ask me about the first part.”

Have a tolerant day, won’t you!

Today’s Bonus Joke

A Soviet Jew is sitting on a train, reading a book, “Beginner’s Hebrew.” Opposite him the KGB agent asks, “Hey, Jew, why are you reading this book?”

The Soviet Jew replies, “Well, if I go to heaven when I die…”

The KGB agent butts in, “And if you get sent to Hell?”

The Jew replies: “Hey, listen, comrade, Russian I already speak…”

Es Lebe Margot Honecker

In memory of the late, not very great, Margot Honecker, the Hillary Clinton of East Germany…

A teacher in the German Democratic Republic asks his class, ‘Who wrote The Communist Manifesto?’ Silence. He decides to ask one of the boys directly.
‘Fritzchen, can you tell me who wrote The Communist Manifesto?’

‘It wasn’t me, honestly!’ is the anxious reply.

The teacher, appalled, tells his wife about the incident. She tries to calm him by saying, ‘You should give him the benefit of the doubt, dear. Maybe it really wasn’t him.’

The teacher withdraws to a dark corner of his favourite bar to drown his dismay, and ends up telling the whole sad story to a stranger.

‘Now look here, don’t you worry. I’m from State Security. We shall find out who did it.’

A couple of weeks later, the two men meet once more in the same bar.

‘Comrade! You’ll be pleased to know that it really wasn’t Fritzchen. However, his father confessed.’

 

Have a comradely day, won’t you!