I was trying hard to just ‘chill out’ and ‘be myself’, as they say, but this was proving difficult because I don’t really have a self. I am whatever you say I am, as the man says. So let’s hope you don’t have a downright nasty mouth on you, right? Let’s hope you don’t say that I am anything too horrible, anything too vile and loathsome. Let’s hope that you don’t say that I am something foul and unworthy and consequently deserving of harsh and unforgiving treatment. Let’s hope that you don’t say that I am anything repulsively lowly, like something you might accidentally step in and then have to scrape off your shoe with an expression of the deepest and most profound disgust on your face. ‘Let’s hope’ – that’s a joke, isn’t it? That’s a fine joke. We all know what happens to people who are vulnerable in this cosy little world of ours! We’re all adults here, we’ve all been around the block a few times. Some of us have been kicked around the block a few times! Oppressed and humiliated by our tormentors. Mocked and made to feel as if we are of no worth. Vulnerability is the one thing the predators are looking out for after all – they are so incredibly attuned to any signs of it. It defies the laws of physics how well-tuned in they are – it’s like telepathy. They just seem to know: suddenly they’re all around you, as if they had just materialized out of thin air. Suddenly and inexplicably they’re all just there, waiting to have a piece of the action. And the action is YOU, needless to say. Who else would it be? Every last one of them is looking for a piece of the action – they’re hungry for it. Although ‘hungry’ isn’t really the right word for what I am talking about here. It’s more like some kind of grim need that informs their very being. The human predators that I am talking about here are actually manifestations of that vast implacable need – they are the many mouths of the need in question, the need to hurt and humiliate, each complete with row upon row of razor-sharp teeth. Such nice white teeth – you’d wonder what brand of toothpaste they use. They’re pressing in on you from all sides, waiting to have their turn to tell you what you are. Waiting to tell me who or what I am, so that I can suffer accordingly. So that I can suffer the pangs of self-recrimination. So that I can be trapped in their venomous descriptions, so that I can take all that appalling toxicity to heart. They’re waiting to tell me who I am because I don’t know. My own need – obviously – in all of this, is to have someone tell me what I am so that I can know, so that I don’t have to float around like some shapeless blob of vulnerable energy. I often wonder why they need to hurt other people so much. Is it because we deserve it? Is it because we’re so terribly vulnerable that the temptation to inflict pain is frankly unsupportable, frankly irresistible? Do we make them do it? Is it because we’re so very, very vulnerable that it just feels too good to hurt us? Good like a hit of the very finest quality heroin and then once you taste you have to have it again and again because you can never forget how good it feels….