The Meerkat Muse – 25/8/21


… and I just can’t hide it!

The Death of Wine

It had to be on Friday the 13th that a tremendous travesty took place. I was carrying home a bottle of wine, bottles of lemonade and cola, and some cans of beer. The handles on the plastic bag gave out on me about halfway home, sending the bag crashing to the pavement below. The wine was the only casualty. The glass broke and the wine itself began to leak over everything else, forcing me to say farewell to it. Losing alcohol is… unfathomable.


My wife, daughter and I were walking home from an impromptu meal out the other day when we were witness to a reminder of the dangers of the electric scooters that are turning up all over the place. Our path took us through an underpass that has a cycle lane, and a pair of kids sharing a bike (which isn’t clever) came zipping by us, heading up to something of a blind corner, at a fair rate of knots. They were going fast enough that they had no time to react to the scooter coming around the corner, and the two vehicles collided, tipping the occupants of the bike into a bush.

The cyclists were going too fast and two people on one bike in a haphazard manner wasn’t smart, but the scooters are not cycle-path worthy and to my understanding, aren’t meant to be used anywhere except private paths. The accident ended up being minor, as the bush broke the cyclists’ fall, but it could have been a lot worse. In short, everyone in this accident could have shown more sense and more awareness of their surroundings.

Two Decades of Pain

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan with the intention of capturing Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and destroying the terrorist group. Along the way allied forces had to remove the Taliban (the ruling party of Afghanistan) from power, for the Taliban were effectively shielding Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Within a month of the beginning of the war (7th October 2001) the Taliban had been virtually removed from power, as US forces encouraged and aided resistance fighters from the Northern Alliance.

From that moment, the Taliban became insurgents, fighting a campaign to retake Afghanistan. They made regular use of terrorist attacks and for nearly two decades they have fought against both US and allied forces and the Afghan government. Efforts to secure Afghanistan against the Taliban were varied and lengthy, but almost immediately after US troops were recalled, the Taliban swept back into power.

Two decades of slaughter and blood has seen the Afghan people placed back under the thumbs of a cruel and evil regime.

When the US first invaded Afghanistan I thought that removing a regime like the Taliban was the right thing to do. In some ways I still feel groups like them should be opposed. The Taliban will clamp down on the rights of women, they will hunt members of the LGBT community and they will employ horrific methods of punishment against anyone who does not acquiesce to their system.

The question is whether a war to remove them means anything now. Was it a mistake, driven not by a desire for justice but rather fuelled by revenge for 9/11? Did we witness (not for the first time) what happens when change is forced from without rather than growing organically from within?

Another question arises. Who is to blame? President Biden completed the withdrawal of troops but he was honouring a deal that Donald Trump struck with the Taliban. It was Trump who trusted the Taliban and it was another Republican who started the war in Afghanistan in the first place (George W Bush). The lack of an exit strategy and any sort of plan meant Bush passed a huge mess onto Obama, and the repercussions of Bush’s misadventures have continued to be felt in the region, and beyond.

As for the Taliban, if anyone who is sympathetic to them reads this, ask yourself why so many Afghans are desperately trying to flee their country and escape the Taliban. They know what’s coming. They faced the brutality and savagery of the Taliban once before. They remember how the Taliban ruined their country. That so many people want to escape should be a message in itself to the Taliban.


Not for the first time (and not for the first time recently either) my wife, daughter and I took a trip to the nearby seaside town of Southend. Once there we visited the local Sealife Centre (that now houses displaced meerkats, mongooses and monkeys, as well as butterflies). It’s a venue we’ve been to before but it’s always pretty interesting and it be sort of… soothing. There’s a lot about aquatic life that is fascinating, they live in a world that’s vital to our own and connected in so many ways… yet in some ways it feels completely alien.

In a slightly unusual twist, the Sealife Centre also played host to dinosaurs…

Along the way we also saw more of the Southend Hares…

Another element of Southend is the glory of chip-shop chips and fresh donuts, both of which we indulged in, though I personally haven’t had a donut as they arrived hot on the heels of a very filling portion of chips and a cheeseburger. They’re in the fridge, waiting and tempting me.

The Death of Comedy Genius

One of the comedy shows that my wife and I both enjoy is 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown. It takes the word and number games of the venerable afternoon quiz show and adds an new spin on proceedings. The show is hilarious and filled with some absolutely bonkers moments.

One of the team captains on the show was Sean Lock. Lock provided some of the show’s best moments, including reducing the normally unflappable Jimmy Carr into tears of laughter on several occasions. To learn of his death, aged just 58, was a huge shock. I didn’t know he was ill with cancer, and losing him will change the comedic landscape of Britain for the worse. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.


By now the world is aware of what happened the other day in Plymouth. The town, located on Britain’s south coast in the county of Devon, saw a terrible, terrifying act of savagery. Police are still piecing together the details and there is a lot of speculation, but it seems one Jake Davison, disenchanted with life and known to be sympathetic to incels (involuntarily celibate men) took a gun and killed firstly his mother, then four bystanders (including a three year-old girl and her father) before turning his weapon upon himself.

Police are saying this isn’t terrorism but they are keeping an open mind. It certainly seems like an act of domestic violence that spread horrifically, though given the number of attacks linked to incels and their woman-hating rhetoric, at some point do we need to start seeing this groups as terrorists?

Incels often band together online and when they do, they feed each other’s hatred and entitlement complexes. They bemoan the world (and specifically women) for not giving them sex, but they behave like entitled toddlers and creep women out. It seems to be exceptionally rare that an incel examines their own behaviour for clues as to why women aren’t interested in them. Their attitude is not helped by strange and stupid takes, such as this:

I hope the women of Plymouth collectively take some responsibility for this. Misandry & the anti-man rhetoric from teachers causes incels.

Young men without hope, without a path, without anything meaningful to strive for become dangerous to the societies around them.— Alan Freestone (@AlanFreestone) August 13, 2021

I don’t know what is going on in Mr Freestone’s head but it’s not logic-based. It’s not reason-based or fact-based. Women are not responsible for the entitlement complex that drives incel behaviour. Persistent low-key misogyny is the root cause. The belief that women exist for male consumption is the key factor. For centuries society has developed and honed the notion that women are meant to be property, meant to be stay-at-home wives with no opinions or independent thought of their own. For hundreds of years women have been expected to be available for men for sexual fulfilment, as though that is their only purpose for existing.

Incels buy into this. They’ve been taught that women are there for male pleasure. The crazy idea of treating women like people and realising that you’re not actually entitled to someone else’s body has created incels. They don’t want to take the time to treat women like people. They often behave in creepy and strange ways around women that put women off wanting to know them. Then they find like-minded misogynists online and they feed off each other. Women are not to blame for their delusions and behaviour. Mr Freestone, that’s a huge copout of an argument.

People People

In the past I would have described myself as a ‘people person’. I’d like to think that in some ways I still am, and this trait is one of the reasons why I work in retail sales. However, I dare say it’s because I work in retail sales that I’m not as much of a ‘people person’ as I used to be. I accept that retail will always involve dealing with the public, but sometimes it’s a weary slog. People bring problems and awkward, unreasonable demands, and they can end up occupying a lot of time.

Maybe part of this is related to the furlough and lockdown periods. No one spent as much time around people then, and did I get used to that a little bit? I like to think I am something of an extrovert and I have generally found it easy to mingle, but sometimes I prefer my own company, or the company of a few select individuals (such as my wife and daughter). Sometimes I prefer solitude, or I prefer to quietly read a book. I don’t like it when people waffle at me.

Related to this is the issue of other people’s kids. We love our own dearly, and we are prepared to go to the ends of the earth for them… but with someone else’s, especially a stranger’s kids, we can face some of the most truly annoying creatures on earth. I fully understand that it’s not always possible for parents to avoid bringing children to a showroom or shop, but in those circumstances the parents need to make an effort to keep their children under control. There is nothing more aggravating than whiny kids or kids charging around uncontrollably, whilst the parents either do nothing or quietly admonish them before continuing to ignore them.

If I were to tell off the kids that are tearing around the showroom, the parents would then take notice, and they’d probably be angry… with me. For doing what they were failing to do, namely disciplining their kids. Please, for the sake of all that is good in this world, instil in your children the importance of good behaviour when out and about! So many people have absolutely no understanding of what it means to work in retail. They assume it’s easy. It’s not, so please don’t make it even more difficult for us.


Yes, at long last, the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer has dropped! This Marvel Cinematic Universe film has been the subject of intense speculation regarding whether or not multiple Spider-Men (Toby Maguire from the Spider-Man Trilogy, Andrew Garfield from the Amazing Spider-Man Duology) would end up on screen, due to multi-verse shenanigans. I’m going to explore the trailer in a stand-alone post, but as is typical with teasers, it… well… teased. It confirmed some details we already knew and hinted at other stuff. Either way, No Way Home is shaping up to be the most eagerly anticipated part of Marvel’s Phase Four.

I don’t have anything else to Muse about this time around, so as ever, stay safe, love each other and I will be back with another Muse in two weeks!

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