Pathological Entitlement

One of my childhood memories is of my father pulling the family car up to a ‘Strictly No Parking’ sign and dinging it with the bumper.  We were the only car in the lot.

In time he bought me my first car, 50 bucks worth of ageing deathtrap. No MOT, no insurance, no licence. Every breach of the rules lost in his bestowing gift.

I abandoned it on the road side within a month ‘cos it wasn’t running right and bought a motorbike. No licence, no experience, no insurance, no helmet. Got to the first junction, crossed it on one wheel and very nearly killed a pedestrian on the far side.

I was Priviledged. I didn’t have to play by the rules. But the almost-accident bought me up short and made me begin to question my entitlement.

Entitlement was  what held my parents together, and the racially segregated community of which we were a part. It was their legacy to me and so I soaked it up like you do…

…being all there was on offer.

I began to realise, not only that it was all a con, but that I was actually a deprived child. All the specialness and priviledge and being exempt from the rules was compensation for lack of love. I was given a pile of ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ cards in lieu of affection.

It had a lot to do with the intensely patriarchal world in which I was raised. Colonial Rhodesia was an Edwardian garden party of Priviledge. Pimms, boaters and side arms. A man’s world in which women were pegged just a tad above non-white folk and Nature was just cover for gooks.

No surprise that the sons of Empire mostly turned out pretty narcissistic. Tin pot princelings who’d sell each other out, and their grandmothers, for any extension of rights and status. The motif at the local monument read, ‘ That Might have Right, and Have it More Abundantly.’

Thing is, such a compensation culture is only pitched a notch or two above what the rest of polite society is still up to. The feminine is collectively devalued. Nature is there simply for the plundering, or perhaps to lie down in on your favourite monogrammed beach towel and conventional religion is an old boy’s club that has been resting on its laurels for so long they’ve mashed it into the upholstery.

What all these sons of empire never got was that if the feminine is devalued then so is mothering. Their mothers. Their Ground of Being.

The problem for children in the West is that mother is invariably a dissatisfied woman.   S. de Bouvoir.

If mother is devalued but her face remains the primary mirror for a nascent sense of identity what is the child to experience of itself?

What a baby sees in its mother’s eyes is what baby takes itself to be. If the mirror is broken or distorted then baby is also broken/distorted.

Baby cannot move forward. Its not safe enough. There isn’t enough containment. If baby is not in his rightful place, in arms, because Mum is drowning her sorrows, or back at work trying to prove her worth, or off at bingo trying to top up on some girl time, or holding baby but gingerly because she’s had her own instincts and self confidence eroded to the point that she’s lost faith in her own abilities, then the need to be in his rightful place, a place to which Nature has promised him entitlement as though it were the Promised Land since he was still in utero, is frustrated and denied…

and unfinished…

Moreover, if baby is having to shoulder not only mother’s sense of inferiority, incalcated in her since she herself was a baby,  but,  in addition, projections of the Self which mother must also export given that society has afforded her no schooling or experience of owning this within her own psyche, then baby is landed with a heady cocktail of not being good enough on the one hand (which requires extremes of compensation) and Mother’s divine image on the other which is going to blow his own sense of self out of all proportion.

This ‘priviledged child’ is finally given the existential coup de grace by being allowed to behave pretty much as he pleases by Mum,  desperate to make up for the very real deprivation she senses she’s an unwitting party to – and there you have a recipe for all the petty despotism you can conceive, all getting gently baked on an oven setting marked ‘self importance’, and served up with a penchant for co-dependence and a side order of addictive tendencies.

The heady realms of the godlike must, after all, be regularly fuelled.

On Being Special.

My country was named after a great hero. I was raised in Rhodesia, last outpost of our marvellous empire, only country in the world to ever be named after a man, my hero Cecil Rhodes.

He would have called it Cecilland, but the double l would have made it sound Welsh, which was foreign, and gay which in those days was punishable by being thrown into a prickly ditch at the very least. Actually, they’d just kill you. Hunting accident.

Yes, Cecil was my hero. Such a proud legacy he left.

”You can relax in the sure knowledge that having been born British you have already won first first prize in the race of life.”

what a relief…

Yeah, how cool is that…?

One day I found myself pointing guns at people out of my legacy of specialness. In protection of our divinely sanctioned ripping off of other people’s stuff and I caught myself, teetering on the brink like a drunk on a clifftop.

I later found out that Rhodes ran a secret white supremacist club called ‘Eugenics’, headed up by himself and lord Alfred Milner, an horrendous, murdering bastard..

but special..

that my proud boarding house was named after at school. They were to the Afrikaaners what the Afrikaaners were to the African and killed thousands of them, women and children, in concentration camps during the Boer war about 1905.

Like Hitler..

I said 1905. Hitler got the idea, and permission, from them, I mean us.

When Milner arrived in Southern Matabeleland, where I grew up,  his diplomacy was exemplified in a single gesture, he rounded up the entire royal family and hung them.

Because they were evil?

No, because they were in his way.

My upbringing was seeped in having greater rights than others. The African, as a representative of anyone who was not me, was inferior.

hardly out of the trees..

it never occured to me that almost every African I ever met spoke four languages…

The majority of us superior people were raised by Africans who were mostly unspoilt by our tyranny so we kids got what we needed from them. They gave us the good stuff regardless..

my nanny was called Suzannah and I loved her….

…whilst I was taught to hate her family…

of which I was a part.

Of course, it was common knowledge that kaffirs were stupid. All except the one who looked after you, who was your mother and of course she was ok. Your own nanny was different from all the stupid ones.

and/or, my mother is inferior and so am I.

Imagine being raised in two worlds that regard each other with complete incomprehension.

What do you see in the mirror?

Now imagine going through that period of time, 3,500 BC when the whole known world was like that and suddenly half the community, those that worshipped The Great Mother,, were cut off and outlawed/exiled.

I remember my Mother, sort of..

No-one speaks Her name…

and if your name is not spoken,…

you cease to exist.

No-one speaks her name.

And no-one talks about Grampa Lawes being jewish and found lying dead on a mountain of beans.

I’m 40 years old when it occurs to me one day that I’m jewish.


Piece it together, grampa lawes is found dead in his posh house in the Hove all sprawled on his beans. paternal mother’s maiden name was..what?

went to the library..


I called my dad

yeah, maybe, on your mother’s side..

Maybe? Are you fucking kidding me?!

What the hell do you mean, maybe.

How can anyone forget who they are? How can EVERYONE forget?

In three generations we forgot who we were. And if we can do that on the ground what does it take for She Who Mustn’t Be Named….


to slip from consciousness.

Not long.

For some years the church fathers rather naively put many of her books in the Apocrypha, tacked on at the back of the bible as if it were okay so long as nobody spoke Her..


The estranged spouses lived at different ends of the house until the Apocrypha was ousted to her own separate appartment in down town Antiquities. The last hard back copy I saw had, ‘Last copy in the County’, stamped in the flyleaf.

Many other of her books, like those dead Sea scrolls found at Nag Hammadi are now under lock and key in the bowels of the Vatican.

In the dungeon, mon!

Yeah, but thankyou hey, really, for who would you incarcerate but the opposition, tacitly conveying the significance of the prisoner…?

and thankyou to Cecil for giving me something to kick against that I might one day find myself. But not before swallowing his narcissistic bullshit hook, line and sinker.