Why I’m growing to loathe British Culture more and more (or the apparent lack of it!)

So this is another post that has come out of the huge head dump of the last few days.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a fair while again – this topic in particular several years, and every so often it springs back to mind…

Before I go any further I should probably say that I’m no expert on culture, British or otherwise, and this is just what I see and what I’ve experienced in my time on the planet so far.
I’ve had issues with British Culture – or the lack thereof- for years now. In fact, this stems back to the second time I went to Germany – aged 14. At that time, I didn’t know what the issue was, but I went away for ten days, and lived with a German family, and came back feeling a little disgruntles with life thereafter. There were things lacking that I just didn’t see here.
A similar thing happened when I went to Europe in 2001, taking in Slovenia, Austria and Italy. Different attitudes and ideas, but even in the short time I was there, were quite tangible things which could be seen threaded throughout the lifestyle.

Then in 2008 I began to become increasingly exposed to French culture and ideals, mostly due to having a French lodger and friend, and having to deal with an increasingly continental lifestyle. This is something I had no issue with at all, as a more European lifestyle suits me in a lot of ways – something I found out through the 4 years that I spent tied in with both French and Swedish cultures (one of my best friend’s girlfriends was Swedish)

These experiences have meant that I’ve steadily grown to become disillusioned with the lack of British culture. I’m not talking about our art, film, music, I’m talking about attitudes and activities.
The closest that Britain has to this, is a piss up in the pub- not at all special, and not something that is shared. Sunday lunches are something which are a little more akin, but that’s not something that’s particularly well known either – the Brits enjoy queuing and drinking, pretty much. Not exactly something that I am proud of. We can’t even say that family and friends are particularly big points of value either. The concept of a dinner party is almost lost, and when it is done, it’s often done to show off individual wealth, or to portray a sense of one=up-manship, or even, a sense of having culture. It’s false, and I don’t like it much. To the point of I have to think about who is holding an event and why.

Recently, I’ve started to learn a bit more about other cultures – specifically Canadian and Danish, having come into contact with said cultures a lot more of late. Canadian culture so far isn’t anything particularly special, but there is much more a sense of community than is found generally in Britain.
Danish culture however, the more I see and hear, the more it makes sense, and conversely the more disparaged I find myself becoming with British Culture.

European culture generally has a much more social focus than british – gatherings of family and friends are often the norm, sometimes, special etymology exists purely for this in some countries. I find this pretty awesome, as it is something that I’ve tried to emulate without knowing about, which seems a bit paradoxical I admit, but does make some sense, somewhere! There’s a much more inclusive culture in Europe as a whole as well, where tolerance is the norm, where us Brits seem to be more than happy to marginalise and ostracise people for the most outlandish of reasons. Now, those who know a bit about me may well put this down to my being somewhat jaded by life experience of my own, and years of aystenatic abuse for not confining to a social norm. Part of me can’t help but play what if, nowadays, and wonder if I had been born in a different country, whether or not it would have happened the way it did, but I’m also aware that’s a big ponder on human nature.

Ultimately, I think the loss of british cultural values fell with the end of the Empire, which may surprise you to hear me speaking so archaically, as that’s really not me, but, things were much more defined then, and since that time, people seem to have lost basic values, let alone ones that define
any form of cummunity.

I guess as I’m looking at things with a bit more of a gathered perspective, I’m starting to find things which are important to me, and when culturally the place I live is against those things, it creates conflict. A bit thing for me, are friends. Family, a little less so, biologically, but I consider many of my friends as family, so can be interchanged. I dunno. maybe I’m just weird for wanting things… or maybe I should just hurry up, win the lottery and move abroad… xD

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Regular post holiday musings.

I’ve been working at this for nearly three days now, having apparently had an awful lot to write about given I’ve only been off for a week! The truth is though, that I have been ruminating on a bunch of things for a fair while now, and I think having some time and space has meant that they’ve come into the mix as well… What follows may appear a bit disjointed, as I’ll move stuff around into vague collected categories, after writing as it all arrives. I also think at this rate, that I’ll be breaking it down and posting it in smaller sections that makes it a little easier to read!

 

1. My Week Off!

This was mostly taken up by an invasion of the Danes. My good friend Terril came to visit, and he brought his friend Shiro along too. Arriving very early on the Saturday, it meant a full week was going to be in store. Not masses was planned, in fact only two things – firstly, attending the pagan moot picnic on the Sunday with Tony, followed by my inaugural Cyberpunk game, and a visit to go and see mutual friends Leinir and Makenshi. As you might expect there was a lot of beer consumed, in addition to other alcohol, BBQ made it’s way in there as well as trip to Toby Carvery. Also lots of films, talk, and general awesomeness was had. I was sad on Friday when dropping them at the train station, but only because the awesomeness had to end. However, thinking positively, I gained another friend, and there will be more visits in the future I hope – which is something to look forwards to.

 

2. Activities

Was pretty active this holiday – possibly helped by not having a chance to simply flumph at the start, but instead continuing. Monday saw a not so leisurely walk to Tony’s from mine (good 3.5 miles) in the blazing sun via Homebase, and Wednesday saw me going swimming with Makenshi in Hinckley. Swam 825m and then did a good 15-20 mins of aqua pedalling. I would have liked to have made it to a straight 1km in the pool, but there were some rather bawdy teens divebombing, which made swimming increasingly difficult to negotiate. On the Friday I did ALL the walking. After dropping the Danes at the trainstation, I headed through and round the city centre to get jobs done and a haircut, then went in search of sandals to Meadowhell, and finally to Doncaster. All in all I covered a good 8 miles minimum through that, and yes, I did find some Sandals!! Sunday, I decided it was time to start going to the gym, so I hauled ass up there, and did a 1.25km jog (5.1mph) followed by 5.15km on the recumbent bike..According to the app that I have, this means a 600kcal burn for that session, which is kinda neat.

3. 100 things in 1001 days.

This needs an update. Because I’ve actually started a bunch of stuff on there, and possibly finished some too…

So yeah. 4 have been completed, and a further nine are officially in progress, with scope for a another good few to be joining them soon. Progress seems slower than I would have liked so far, but inspiration is arriving again, which will hopefully spur things on. I’m hoping that the holiday I have planned for September will be a further catylyst to things and that the pace will pick up.

 

4. Roleplay.

Bit of a mixed bag really. I’ve started my Cyberpunk campaign, which seemed to go pretty well. Have got 5 players in the group, and the premise for the plot has been set. Despite a whole bunch of nerves about it, and getting really insecure about how badly I would suck at it, I managed – even adding in the 5th character on the fly. I am looking forwards to continuing with the next game sometime in August. Outside of the punk campaign though, things have become messy. Fractured friendships within the group has meant that after *finally* coming out of a hiatus and into a game – resurrecting my old Werewolf character, and having a lot of fun playing her, I feel compelled to step back once again. I don’t have an issue with what has happened in real life at all, however, to think that it won’t have *any* impact on the game at all is simply naive. There’ll always be the wondering whether or not my character is being ‘deliberately harsh’ towards another character – which she isn’t – it’s just how she is. Add to this the fact that Freya is hierarchically higher up the scale and further things could be asked which will take the fun out of it. Quite frankly I don’t want to put myself in position where I’’m having to consider all of these things, because it will destroy the fun of it for me. So I’ve made that decision, which has been difficult, because the thing I enjoy most about RP is probably the social aspect of it – which I’m having to choose to walk away from for a while in order to keep my sanity intact, and even just a few months back, I might not have done, but I think it’s the only viable choice.

 

5, Music.

This week saw me finally break my songwriters block in it’s usual inconvenient style, whilst attending the moot picnic, when I should have been doing other things… but I can’t waste time worrying about that – everyone survived. It did mean that I missed a fair bit of the picnic as I had to go and be on my own and then get what was going round my head onto paper.

I may have written a song just before I moved to sheffield as well, but the more I’ve thought about that one,it’s a poetry cycle that I’ve added a tune to, and not a song. Wth that I think I was starting to get a bit desperate as i’d spent most of the previous six months with NO interest in anything musical whatsoever, and I needed to prove to myselfr that it wasn’t the end of it all. It served it’s purpose though, and provided a bit of hope, but the real breakthrough was this week.  As usual with the songs I choose to keep, the whole thing was written that day. Lyrics, melody, accompaniment and harmonies. I’m still not exactly sure what the song is about, I’ll be quite honest, but I felt so much better for having written it, which is usually a sign that some catharsis of sorts has been achieved. I also worked out the accompaniment for ‘Exposed’ whilst in the shower – the guitar part anyway, and again, at that highly convenient moment of being in the shower at the time! This is a really positive thing though, as hopefully it means that there’ll be more to come – and the recent good feedback from the gig on the 12th does make me think overall, that it’s not just a complete waste of time and I should just quit before I waste any more money on it.  

6. Me

 

Because I’ve been so busy I’ve not really had much time to do a lot of navel gazing – even after the boys went home – my Friday and Saturday were busy with stuff, and I was writing the long version of this when I wasn’t busy.

A few things have struck me though, mostly whilst thinking about other things: Firstly, I’m getting a LOT better at meeting random people! Not that long ago I’d have been really shy at the idea of it, but this holiday, I welcomed a new person into my house, with no trauma for me – a bit of nerves and shyness, but nothing that wasn’t normal by mundane standards. I also ended up getting talked to by strangers in a few places – and found myself talking back properly, rather than excusing myself from conversation.

 

Secondly, I still have issues, BUT they are improving. It was pointed out that I am still pretty insecure when it comes to myself. My answer to that was ‘yes, but it’s getting better’ and I do genuinely feel that that’s true. I don’t know if I’ll EVER fully manage to escape the tie between how much I can do for someone proportionally affection their reaction to me – ie, defining myself by the things I do, not who I am, but it’s less there than it was, and I realise that in some ways, I am actually a pretty cool person to know, and have some good stuff going in my favour. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop being concerned as to what other people think of me either, but again, I’m not going to be so hard on myself about it…

So patience is the watchword there.

 

Thirdly. It is possible to be both an introvert and a social creature. Two concepts which I had kinda thought couldn’t work together, but this is more out of a skewed perception as to what being an introvert actually is and how it works, as well as some other assumptions which seem to have (rightly) been thrown away in the course of the last few months. I essentially always equated being alone with being an introvert, which of course, isn’t really the case. This has led to some interesting internal debates, as I enjoy a lot of things which don’t work with that as a scenario. But they didn’t work on the flipside. For one, I don’t generally LIKE being alone for long periods of time, but the opposite didnt work either. The ideal for me, is probably much closer to being in smaller valued company, but free to keep my counsel, or join in as I wish – which is actually perfectly acceptable. I still need alone time, as I *am* an introvert, and it’s how I recharge, but not nearly as much as I would have assumed I needed. Of course tied up in this, was a desire to be alone, because it meant I couldn’t be hurt by anyone, which probably perpetuated the self-created myth some, and that’s something else that over time, I’ve been able to work on, and come to terms with, even if there’s still fallout to deal with there too. It’s slowly starting to untangle finally.

7. Furry.

 

This is one of those things I’ve been ruminating on for a while…. mostly because in the last few months especially, I’ve found myself having to explain my knowledge of the fandom to interested parties, which in turn has led to reevaluating it somewhat.

I first came across the fandom when I was 18, thanks to a friend at church who was to become my housemate, and then after that skip out to America, who introduced me to a set of the Sheffield Furs. In themselves all nice people for the most part, and there were shared interests and geekery etc so all good. So as time went on, it was decreed that I too must be a fur, and quite obviously a dragon, specifically, as I used the online handle of steeldragoness at that time, which was an entirely separate event. I went to furmeets, met a fair few furs from around the country and all was generally well, with the exception of two things.

 

One, people really struggled to define furry to me when I asked them what it meant to them – usually met with RAWR I’M A BEAR/FOX/WOLF/TIGER/CAT/PHOENIX and not a lot else, and secondly, the things that happened when they got together at the Durham Ox. I lost a lot of innocence finding out things that happened there… and whilst I’ve since come to learn that this does not have to be an essential part of being a fur, I couldn’t reconcile it at all to where I could relate to or take part in. Specifically the rather loose and free nature of sexual activities that went on. Anyone and everyone was fair game, anywhere pretty much – except me, because I lacked a penis (and even if I didn’t, it’s not something that at that time I would have been at all prepared for). These things combined with the sheer amount of drama, meant that I walked away from it when I left Sheffield.

The last year or so though, it’s come back.into my life, as I’ve met people, who have brought other people, until all of a sudden, half the roleplayers are furs, and they know people I know and ALL the crossover appeared, which led me getting back in touch with some people I used to know as well as meeting a bunch more, and I started to reevaluate as people started to ask me “So what fur are you then?” and looked really surprised when I said I wasn’t really.

A few have asked why not, or if I used to be, and I’ve answered as best as I could at the time

 

This week, during conversation i was asked “So, why *aren’t* you a fur?* which was met with the rather unexpected response of “I’m not sure – maybe I am… “ I think this was unexpected by both the interested parties, and me! This alone has caused me to give it some more thought this week, and I tried to explain that I guess it depends on the definition you use, and the reason I never saw myself as furry was because I could never relate to the definition that I had been given by my experiences- namely a bunch of animal obsessed sexual deviants who were intent on causing drama. My experiences now are somewhat different, by a long shot!

 

During conversation and through my own research, it is very much a social thing, which as I’ll talk about when I’m looking at introvertedness, is something that’s now a much bigger theme in my life than it used to be, so is a bit more applicable to me now, but broadly, the definition as to what makes a fur a fur as far as I can see in broad terms is something like this:

1.  Shared interests in anthropomorphic animals and creatures. – this could emerge as any number of things, and again from what I’ve seen – there isn’t a set rule for what that interest could entail – could be a love of furry art, or cartoons, through to a more spiritual connection, akin to Native American beliefs or therianthropy, or a love of fursuit and cos/roleplay. Doesn’t have to be all of them, or most.

 

My second time around at exploring the fandom has been very different – the people I’ve met, are some pretty awesome people truth be told, and I find myself privileged to count a number of them amongst my friends, and there’s not much of the stuff that put me off the last time when it comes to the social aspect. In fact, when placed in situ, I actually probably find myself more at ease than I do in other situations… .

So, Do I fit that definition?

Quite simply put, Yes.

On more than one count I might add, and I’ll happily admit to this!!

 

So am I too a fur?

Quite probably, when I  come to reevaluate it.

Just don’t ask me what animal I relate to… that one might take a bit more time, because with the best will in the world, I’m really not sure I’m a dragon. I’d much rather be something of my own choosing.  And if any of my furry friends have anything to add, or correct me on, feel free!