The Meerkat Muse – 16/6/21

Welcome back to your regular fix of Meerkat Musings!

At the end of the previous Muse I’d remarked upon an upturn in the weather, and it took only a few days for this glorious sunny spell to come to an abrupt, ignoble end. This coincided with a scheduled trip into London (for the first time since February 2020) in order to give my daughter a belated birthday treat – a trip to a cat cafe. I know what you’re thinking, ‘cat cafe?’ Yes, it’s a thing, and there are a couple of them in the Big Smoke.

Forbidden Planet

Before journeying to spend time with a whole bunch of feline friends we went to sci-fi store Forbidden Planet, where my daughter continued to indulge her Five Nights at Freddy’s obsession with the purchase of several new books. I myself ended up with a new book of my own, and couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever see a book of mine on sale at the Tottenham Court Road venue. It’s something to aspire to. We killed some time browsing the various wares (the place is a sci-fi fan’s dream) and then made our way across a rather damp London to Great Portland Street, where it was time to meet the moggies!


We had ‘High Tea’ whilst at the cafe, enjoying scones, cakes and coffee alongside the cats. The location (Java Whiskas) was very warm (no doubt for the benefit of the cats), and the furry creatures were quite lethargic. Most of them were asleep, or perched up on high, a detail that has led to the venue receiving a number of negative reviews, but we’re talking about cats here. They do what they want, when they want. Anyone going to a cat cafe should be prepared for the cats to greet you on their terms. Moaning about it is pointless. The staff were friendly and the food was good for what it was. From our point of view it was a rare family day out, given the current pandemic circumstances.


Speaking of the pandemic, there are reports of rising cases of the Indian variant and concerns that the vaccines, whilst effective to a point, aren’t as good as they are against other strains. With cases on the rise yet again, as of the 4th of June, will restrictions be relaxed or instead will they be tightened? We’re all fed up of this, but viruses don’t get tired. Covid-19 is still with us and therefore countermeasures need to still be with us. It’s unsavoury and frustrating but letting the disease run rife is a far more devastating alternative. I have to ask whether the Tories will act in the interests of public health or instead in the interests of money and business, as their track record so far is not inspiring.


This subject has come up due to some fiery activity within the Trek Twitter community, but it’s relevant to a lot of stuff. I wrote a blog entry specifically on the topic, but I wanted to touch upon how tolerance doesn’t mean accepting any and every point of view.

Tolerating intolerance is basically a way of saying ‘I want to be racist/sexist/homophobic and you’re being horrible if you say that’s wrong’. I see this sort of attitude a lot from the conservative and religious right. In fact, I’ve sparred with people, both here and on the Coalition of the Brave site, who feel they have a God-given right to be bigoted, and that opposing them is wrong.

Typically, religion is used as a shield to deflect criticism. ‘Religious rights’ is a phrase I’ve heard all too often. I also hear that without religion we lack an objective morality – but as I have mentioned to a few sparring partners, the ‘objective morality’ of religious texts is dubious at best.

To quote the Old Testament, and specifically Genesis 38:6-10:

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

Perhaps someone would care to explain the morality of God’s actions here? Because it all looks pretty arbitrary to me… And that’s one example of many.

Both the God of the Bible and Allah of the Quran have set aside dominions of eternal punishment unless they are worshipped, and worshipped correctly (good luck finding a consensus on what the correct method actually is). There is also a lot of historical violence – often justified by holy texts – within Judaism, Hinduism, and other religions. There is a lot of violent conflict happening now, that has roots in religious teachings.

Apologists will argue that this bloodshed is in spite of the faith, rather than because of it, but there are plenty of people throughout history who have studied holy documents and been convinced that God desires them to do violent, aggressive deeds. As this is a recurring theme, where does the responsibility lie, if not with the message? If we are to accept that the Bible, Quran, Torah et al are the literal words of God (though everyone of each faith will tell you only their book is truly divine), then there’s a lot for God to answer for.

Religion is hardly the source of all intolerance and there’s plenty of lines about charity and kindness found within these texts too – lines that are sadly ignored on a regular basis. As a case in point, I refer back to this post and the comments. It seems that supporting people through healthcare and food is less important that nukes, at least in the eyes of some Christians…

To spin this back to the idea of tolerating intolerance, why should we accept divisive, hateful attitudes? Some of them – like homophobia – might be dressed as love and concern, but hate is at the very core of such ideals.


Hay Fever

We’re entering into pollen season, which for me spells trouble. I can’t stop sniffing and sneezing, at least when I forget to take medication. Sometimes it’s not too bad, but it does feel like my allergies with every passing year. The trouble with the medication is that it makes me a bit drowsy – not a problem at bed time but definitely not good when I have an early start at work – which is every day.

Still, the alternative is worse – sore eyes, a running nose, lots of sneezing… I know what I’d rather do without.

Covid Deniers and Science Deniers…

It’s of no surprise to me (nor should it surprise anyone) that these two categories go hand in hand. After all, it takes wilful ignorance to deny science, and the science of covid-19 and how diseases work. It’s not without irony (though I’m not sure the deniers appreciate it) that they speak of people being brain-washed into accepting scientific ideas, whilst espousing an unwavering belief in religious texts. Books and documents written thousands of years ago with specific instructions on how to behave, what to wear, even how to think… What does that sound like?

It never fails to amaze me that the conservative religious right speaks of indoctrination when organised religion is built upon indoctrination. There are no elaborate ceremonies or regular prayers within science. There’s study and research, theories and tests. When was the last time someone showed up to your door in a lab coat to preach from a textbook?

Mood Hoovers

I first discovered this phrase when working at Staples. It stuck with me. I have met many people in my life, and some are naturally inclined to be happy, others inclined to be miserable. Granted, circumstances play a part, but are some people just wired to be unhappy? I’d like to think that no one is so inclined, but sometimes I’m left with cause to wonder. Yes, life can be hard sometimes. Sometimes we hit a rough patch. No one can tell someone else how to feel about a given situation. We all handle different things differently. That doesn’t stop me from despairing when I see the mood hoovers in action, complaining about absolutely everything. What does it accomplish? It’s even worse when they try to rain on other people’s parades. Don’t like summer sun? OK, I get that. Why take joy out of other people’s unhappiness at the lack of summer sun?

Something New

Alongside the slow but steady rewrite of The Awakening, I’ve started to put together a new project. I’m likening it to an anthology, and we’ll see where it leads. My priority is The Awakening, and I feel ready to dive back into it, but I’m intrigued as to where I can take this bunch of short stories.


At the start of this Muse I lamented the sudden interruption to the equally sudden warm weather. Thankfully the weather returned to bright and sunny and warm, warm enough for me to sit in the garden without a shirt on, and enjoy the sun’s heat upon my body. That doesn’t mean the weather can’t get all inconsistent, especially in June, but it does seem to be better.

We’re talking ‘ice lollies and ice cream cones in the garden’ weather, which is fantastic!

Euro 2020

It’s a summer of international football! The European Championships began on Friday, and already the action has been sizzling. This should all have happened last year, but despite the actual year being 2021, everyone is determined to call this tournament Euro 2020, so that’s that. Running concurrently will be Copa America 2021, the Americas version of the Euros, which should have been shared between Argentina and Colombia, but due to covid has ended up in Brazil. Copa America matches will be very late in the evenings or very early in the mornings, but there’ll be a lot of live football to enjoy!

As ever, international competitions bring a lot of faux optimism. People will desperately want England to do well, and the first half-decent performance will inflate expectations to a completely unreasonable degree, spurred by a media that will build England up, only to savagely tear them down the moment they inevitably fail. We won’t be winning this contest; a semi-final appearance would be a good outcome for us.

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