There was The Sun, lying in the train, so I had a look. I turned two pages, and avoided the page three girl.
Two articles caught my attention. One was two pages, with large photos, of a woman who eats 5000 calories a day, much of it fast food, but remains a size 8- she wants to develop “womanly curves” but cannot put on weight. She wakes in the night with cravings and will eat burgers and chips. The other was a woman who had been burgled, and met her burglar as part of a Restorative Justice programme. She felt she had managed to communicate her distress, and been heard by him, and gained some understanding of his. Now she wants to be a mentor for such criminals, bringing them round to something better. What would you know? It was in The Sun, not quite as disgusting as you might have thought.
-“Do you mind if I have a look?”
-Not at all, I found it there. He leafs through the sports pages: lots and lots on the football, and then more quickly through the front half.
-Ha! Look at that! What kind of story is that?
He passes it to his companion, who also expresses derision. What? Four lines at the bottom of a column say that a “poll” has found a certain percentage of children under 3 have tried curry. Well, interesting enough, worth four lines and a tiny headline, though I could not remember the percentage an hour later.
H was disgusted that I would even read the thing. Well, I would not buy it, but am interested to read it as a cultural artefact. She would not even do that, though the positive piece on restorative justice gained grudging respect: she has enough in her life, and tries to avoid negative things. So I came up with an answer, which felt right at the time:
I also watch “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” on Pick, the Murdoch channel. I spend most of my time in my living room, and seek to come to accept my own feelings. So having something which disgusts me is useful, as practice feeling the disgust without fear of the feeling. I want to be able to be in touch with feelings, not shut them down. So, say, reading the Sun or watching a sword go through a neck and gouts of red stuff splash about (such detailed special effects it has!) helps me do that.
H herself is irritated by the advert on the Tube which talks of “internetting”. That’s not a word! Well, no, but you understand what it means. And while the old word “web-surfing” means more or less the same thing, originally “surfing” meant moving between websites, perhaps by links, whereas now we spend most of our time on particular social or shopping sites. I myself am irritated by the use of a £ sign to replace an E in a word. It is an L, standing for Liber, as in liber, sestercius, denarius; and by the reversed N in the advertising for UиcLe Vaиya which we went to see. That и is put in to make it look Russian, but is an “I” sound rather than an N. Ignorant, illiterate, wrong. Yes, I too have other things to get angry with.
Vicarious disgust to get used to the feeling, so I may feel it and not shut down; and disgust at something not particularly disgusting, I suppose, and something I certainly may not influence. I try to laugh where before I would get angry with such solecisms, but being an emotional being is difficult, and if I were paid to work I might need to rely on coffee, alcohol and suppression just like everyone else. Suppression is the problem, though: I will do a lot to avoid that. It kills me.