Monday, 5 December 2011
An open letter to the **** (just joking) Jeremy Clarkson
An open letter to the **** (just joking) Jeremy Clarkson
From a mentally ill ex public service worker.
Dear bigot (just joking) Jeremy,
I wonder if it's because you grew up with the initials JC that you believe you have some sort of God-given right to mock, abuse, and denigrate people whose lives you do not understand. Sad as that would be, for surely it would mean that you are suffering from some sort of delusional mental illness, I think that would be preferable to the alternative, i.e. That you are a loudmouthed, bigoted, sociopath who is unable to walk in the shoes of others. (That's not an invitation to walk in mine, I can only afford to buy one pair at a time and I fear that your aura might distort them beyond the point where they are useful to me. (Just joking: obviously.)).
Before I get to the nitty-gritty I suppose I ought to come clean and say that I am not a fan of either you or your television programme. In the days when I did watch motoring programmes on the television it was because I wanted to know about the sort of motorcar that I could afford to buy, it was not to watch grown men having the sort of conversation about cars that any group of 13-year-olds might have while playing a game of Top Trumps in the playground. It's about that age, 13 to 15, most young people realise that threatening to kill people is a fairly stupid thing to do, and yet you, an adult, told the world this week that you would like to shoot people like me.
Have you ever had any psychological tests Jeremy, I'm not qualified to say such things - (though that's never stopped you has it) - but I'm wondering if you're suffering from some sort of delayed cognitive development (joking?).
Am I being unfair, would I be saying these things if I really knew you? (I suspect I would be, don't you?). But it is unfair when someone does something like that isn't it? And yet this week you have used, possibly abused, your privileged position as a public mouthpiece to insult, to abuse, and to (attempt, (I think it failed)) ridicule me and thousands like me.
I am a public service pensioner. I was retired "on health grounds" when my spine collapsed and I lost the ability to remove myself quickly from the vicinity of the most violent of the people I worked with and supported in your name.
When I was 40 years old I had moved from "industry" to "social work" for ethical reasons, I knew that I would earn nothing like the salary I could have earned in industry doing a job with a similar level of stresses and responsibility, but was told that would be compensated for when I retired, when, because of the not insubstantial contributions I would have made, I would receive a "good" pension.
(No one needed to explain to me, after all, it's common sense isn't it? that many public servants, police, firemen, ambulance staff, have an upward age limit on the time they could continue in their jobs. It's always been obvious to me that these folk would require a reasonable pension if they were not to be impoverished when they retired in their 50s.
That says nothing of the dangers these folk face in your name, the dangers faced by the three examples I name above are self evident but teachers are attacked by pupils and the parents of those pupils, nurses and doctors by their patients, and social workers and probation officers, and the low paid office workers who make it possible for these people to do their job efficiently, are attacked frequently.).
The only time I have ever taken industrial action was in 1989 when we social workers discovered that the secretaries who were typing our court reports and our notes were taking home less money than the "impoverished" people we were employed to act on behalf of. The media and right wing politicians of that time, just like their counterparts this week, used their disproportionate control over written and televised media in an attempt to ridicule the strikers, by attempting to minimise the statistics regarding the number of people taking direct action, and to obscure the real purpose of our action by repeatedly quoting examples of the salaries of the most senior social work staff to drown out valid union representation of the least well-paid of its members. (Incidentally, those "High Earning", senior members of staff were not striking, they were staffing the telephones and emergency services so that social service users were not disadvantaged). Interesting isn't it that here we are over 20 years later listening to the same arguments from both sides (On the Government side from some of the same people!).
Now Jeremy, what I am in reasonably unique position to know is that those striking public service workers have contributed a great deal more to their pension schemes in the past than those in the private sector did. This is what the argument this week (this year) has been about, not what might happen in the future but what will happen to the money that these workers have, in effect, put by to support them when they retire. If this government were to say to you that they are going to retrospectively tax you on any savings you have made since you began work I suspect you might have some sort of opinion about that.
This week the coalition government has been laughably "talking up" the miniscule new tax they are applying to banks and bankers, but there is no talk of this being applied retrospectively, back to the time when banks first began making extortionate profits.
Know what Jeremy, I suspect that (like the true child of Thatcher you are) you do not like the term "unfair", I suspect you would like to see people with a problem get off of their arses and do something about it. Well Jeremy, that is what the public sector workers did this week, in accordance with "Laws" laid down by Thatcher's Government, yet you, and the right wing politicians who think the way you do, attempted to lampoon them for doing it. I realise that you were probably "Only Joking" but, I think you should know that the 2 million strikers and millions like me who supported their action, did not find any of it very funny.
The other thing I do not find funny is that my public sector pension, which you are all so envious of, is worth less than £100 a week to me. (And I'm not joking).
And now to your second "funny" remark of this week, the one during which you claimed that people who commit suicide by throwing themselves under trains are being selfish.
The sad thing about this for me is that it is different from "funny?" remarks you made about shooting strikers. Those remarks, along with your previous "humorous" soliloquies regarding the "Green" movement; and those you make to reinforce the gender stereotypes which some of us have been working as long as you have lived to remove; can be put down as the ranting of an uninformed bigot. Here my concern is that unlike those occasions, you appeared to have some knowledge of the subject you sought to ridicule. After all, in one of your interviews you made it clear that you are aware that those who choose to die in this way have a very high success rate.
You might like to know that among those of us who fight daily against the desire to end our own lives it is well known that those who have "had enough" will jump, (from bridges, buildings, or under trains), or, they will shoot or hang themselves (and my contempt of you is even greater because you chose to value being able to drive your car through traffic free London above the loss of human life during a week when the family of Gary Speed have had to begin the journey of coming to terms with his choosing to end his life in that way.).
When, like me, you have sat in waiting rooms or on wards full of people who really do see, and are genuinely terrified of, little green men, other people who desperately want to take "that way" out of a life haunted by televisions that speak to them, or hearing voices which constantly tell them to harm themselves or those they love, or hallucinations which play out before them scenes far more horrific than the most talented creators of horror films can imagine. Once you have got to know those people you will be entitled to begin to think you might have a right to apply cruel labels to us, to my people, and to my friends, the most courageous people I know.
In a society that uses the word "depressed" to describe the feeling when one loses a mobile phone or is upset by a remark made by another, it is easy to forget that Clinical Depression, and Bipolar Disorder are terminal illnesses, terminal because they cannot be cured and more often than not will end with the premature death of the person with the illness. (The impact of the second illness on the sufferer and those closest to them is further discounted by the way the term "Manic" has been so distorted through common, inappropriate, media usage).
The strategy used by many sufferers of mental illness, and the professionals who treat them and care for them, is to combat their wish to be dead through invoking and visualising thoughts of how their deaths will affect those who love and care for them. Wife's, Husband's, Children, Grandchildren, Partner's, Boyfriend's, Girlfriend's, the Cat, and the Dog, the feelings of all of these take on massive significance when the thought patterns of those with mental illness become dominated by the wish to die. Many of us will have been using these images and thoughts for the benefit of others for years, even though they keep us trapped in an endless cycle of fear, anxiety, loneliness and alienation.
For many of us our first thoughts on waking are occupied with deciding strategies we will employ that day to hide our innermost thoughts and feelings from those we love so they do not become worried or distressed about, or by, us.
Many of us travel to work praying that this will not be the day when something happens to cause enough extra stress for us to betray the torment in our heads. For some of us that means running through every possible eventuality of the coming day so that we are not "caught out" and do not betray our "true" self. This of course means arriving at work already mentally exhausted and travelling through the rest of the day on automatic pilot.
The same process begins on the journey home in an attempt to predict situations or actions by us, which cause worry or sadness for those we live with. While we sit and watch the TV with you we are constantly monitoring the affect of "our selves" on you while trying to grasp enough of the TV programme to answer you if you ask about it. (We are the best multitaskers in the world and I can tell you, because I've done both, it's a lot more tiring than driving very fast a car designed for that purpose).
Tomorrow begins the moment we get into bed tonight, when, instead of being able to celebrate the achievements of getting through the day just passed, we are compelled to begin plotting how we must be from the time we wake in the morning. A process that might take several hours, meaning that by the time we sleep, tomorrow is already here and we wake troubled, and un-refreshed, as the cycle described above inevitably re-occurs.
Selfish Jeremy, I don't think so, most of us who finally escape the cycle require more real courage to do so than you need to drive across a traffic filled London. We are often glad for a colleague who has managed to find that window of escape from the cycle, and those whose windows of opportunity lead onto a railway platform, onto the roof of the building, or onto a bridge, deserve the most respect because they chose a route from which they knew there was not the remotest possibility of return. These are often those of us whose previous escape attempts had been derided as "a cry for help" or "acting out".
When "our" day comes and the fog clears from our eyes, the voices in our heads are quietened, and our hallucinations are of kindly persons taking our hands and leading us to some calm and peaceful place, it will not be selfishness that drives us forward, quite the opposite in fact, for many of us it will be because prior to these wonderful things happening we have finally convinced ourselves that the best thing we could do for those we love the most: Wives, Husbands, Children, Grandchildren, Partners, Boyfriends, Girlfriends, the cat and the dog: is to save them from the future fears, and worries, and from the sadness and pain that we know we will continue to bring into their lives.
That's about it really Jeremy. I don't really expect any of this to change what you might do or say in the future. I, like many others, watched in disbelief as you and your playground pals vandalised and ruined the garden of Steve Redgrave in the name of "good television" and "charity" a few years ago, and we realised on that day what a massive Kant you are. Interestingly two other modern day massive Kant's; named Cameron and Johnson; are also very skilled at obscuring and minimising acts of vandalism perpetrated by themselves while spreading callous and damaging gossip about those whose lives they have made no attempt to understand.
In my opening paragraph I advocated that you should walk in the shoes of others before making condemnatory statements about them. I've changed that view. While placing your words of this week under greater scrutiny I've come to the conclusion that I do not want to subject my vulnerable and sensitive friends and colleagues to your adolescent, unfeeling rhetoric.
I would still like you to call them together before you next pass ill informed, right wing propaganda led judgements of them. I would still like you to ask them to remove their shoes, but, rather than placing those shoes on your feet, I suggest you place them between your lips and hold them there until the desire to pontificate in the uneducated, ill informed, manner of a bigot, leaves you.