Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stuck In Holyhead

I was in Holyhead last night, rubbing myself silly in one of my favourite little venues in North Wales, and all was going alarming well until halfway through my act when I began to think about the moral case for privacy.

It was an odd thing, to be sure. There I was, about to put my spuds and sausage on show yet again, but also considering the question of privacy from a rationalist perspective. I doubt if Spinoza could ever have found himself so thong tied, faced with such a strange conflict of interests. But there you go... It was more than enough to disturb a man, I can tell you, and not for one but two reasons.

First of all, it’s not at all like The Chipster to be so unprofessional when he’s snapping elastic for the ladies. I prefer to keep my mind on what I’m doing. But perhaps the crowd was too small for a Friday night or I felt uncomfortable wearing a particularly cheap poker dot thong. Whatever the reason, I soon found myself asking: does our right to privacy really mean that much?

And that’s when the second thing to disturb me came to mind. It was the thought that few people seem to care much about privacy these days, or if they care, they only care about those issues that catch the media headlines. Nobody considers championing those other moments of privacy that this government would so happily take from us.

You might suppose that a man given to taking his clothes off for money wouldn’t value his privacy all that highly but you’d be wrong. Being at home with my body in its natural state, albeit with a slight moistening of baby oil, is precisely what makes me understand what privacy means to us all. I think about it more often than the rest of you. I cherish a little more highly that which I give away so cheaply. Or perhaps its just that mine is one of those minds drawn to metaphysics whenever my thong gets too tight.

It was yesterday’s conviction of the News of the World reporter who tapped the royal phones that made me begin to realise how little we, as individuals, appear to care about our privacy. We hide our most personal telephone recordings behind four digit codes, easily hacked by anybody with the know-how. We install wireless routers in our homes but few of us bother to set up the security and passwords to prevent outsiders from getting access to our private network. We carry camera phones with us wherever we go, taking more and more reality from the private and into a public realm. And we’re so blasé about our right to space or to our private moments in the day that we’d happily submit to a identity card scheme and databases for our DNA.

Yet programmes such as Big Brother make it so evident that it is the little moments in our lives that actually make us all who we are. I'm now watching 'Face' from the A Team brushing his teeth and it's fascinating viewing. These are our simian moments, when we hunch our shoulders and drag our knuckles on the floor. They are the spaces in busy pretension-filled lives when we finally reveal to ourselves who we are, dripping with toothpaste and private doubts.

Privacy is like that. It is a place where we can each hide away the things that aren’t for public consumption. We all have big secrets we fear might be discovered but we also have another side to our private lives which is just as vital. Big Brother performs an important function by showing us a world where we are not allowed to be human without paying a consequence. It reminds us of a world where everybody knows when you’ve rearranged your underwear, picked your nose, or broken wind. It is a world where one person's petty animosity towards another becomes an international incident.

So we might all talk about the high and noble reasons for protecting our privacy. We might scorn those that bug telephones of the rich and famous. But let’s not forget those people who seek to take away our private time, who wish to see us on camera for an increasingly large portion of our lives, who wish to punish us for the petty, uneven, ugly sides to our natures.

Imagine a world when a man is but a scratch of an itching buttock away from public humiliation.

That’s the thought that struck me as I danced tonight in Holyhead.

And then all the ladies screamed with delight.


Trixy said...

Maybe it was the over powerering smell of oestrogen which made your mind wander?

I suspect, however, it was the man made fabrics rubbing tightly against your...satisfying meal of spuds and sausage...

Chippy said...

Gabby thinks it had something to do with the fabric conditioner we've been using. She's been writing essays on German philosophers all day. Not like her at all.

As for the rest, I couldn't possibly comment. :)