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Culture is subjective…

Culture. What is it and why is it one of those words that immediately makes me feel a bit guilty, like I should be more cultured, have greater culture, be more learned and wise to the arts of our world. Jimmy, from Cultured Vultures, offered me the chance to write a piece for his brilliant website. I asked what topic, what subject, what about? Tell me the rules, the boundaries and what you want from me. He simply said anything as long as it’s cultured based, or based on culture, or about culture. Um, like…right so about culture….got it. I’m a writer so it figures that I’m cultured. Of course I’m cultured. Ha! The mere suggestion that I am uncultured is just laughable. My culture is huge and massive and like…yeah, really cultured. I like some opera songs and um…when I’m writing I sometimes listen to Classic FM and like, I can even name a few of the songs too, like that one from the deaf bloke and that song that fat bloke with the beard sang. So fuck it, I can culture the fuck out of this and write me some cultured words. A word can be like a scent. A word can take you to another place in time, to a memory of something recent or long past. In the front of my mind I was having a wee panic attack that I’ve now got to blag my way through something about culture, but right behind that frontal lobe bit, in the back seat of the memory car, there was a tug of discomfort, of being out of my depth. What was it? I ignored it, like so many of us do when there is something uncomfortable lurking away at the back of our conscious. I write the best selling zombie horror series on Amazon. The Undead. As an ebook series it does fantastic but I wanted to take the next step and go for a traditional print deal with a mainstream publisher. This meant submitting parts of my work to literary agents in the hope one of them would take me on. I’ve done submissions to agents before and it’s a bloody horrible, time consuming thing to do. But I did it and got three agents interested enough to contact me asking for meetings. I live way down South and they are all London based. I managed to get all three meetings on one day and journeyed up to the capital to meet them all. And it was that day that was nagging me in the back of my mind. Of how I went to three different agents offices and realised just how un-bloody-cultured I was. I spilt coffee down my shirt on the train up then fell asleep, so by the time I got to Victoria I looked like I’d been fighting with honey badgers. I was sweating and hot and very unused to the smoggy air of a big city that made my skin feel greasy, and the crowds of people rushing past, elbows in my ribs on the tube but with no apologetic eye contact. The agents were seriously hardcore literary people. One of them was an award winning author. The offices were piled high with Pulitzer Prize winning novels. Pictures on the walls of grainy black and white things with more colourful Picasso type stuff. I was hot. They were cool. I was coffee stained and crumpled. They looked perfectly at ease in their sumptuous surroundings. I felt like I gabbled and talked too much while every word they said could have been scripted by Tennyson. They spoke of narrative, discourse, cadence and word count while I muttered into my hands clasped on my lap about zombies. One of the meetings was in a cafe. Not a cafe but a cafe with the little squiggly line over the e. Everyone was so smart and serious. The cappuccino cups didn’t have handles. They were soup bowls. Wow…that’s culture. Then later, while I was heading back to Victoria I was approached by an old woman holding her hand out. A Romanian beggar. She looked haggard with a leather lined face and an old fashioned headscarf. I gave her a couple of quid and moved on. On the train there were three very smart looking men in business suits, they looked sharp and switched on. As the train pulled out they started chatting, they then opened a few cans of beer and the chat got louder. Loud enough to hear. They weren’t switched on or smart. They were thick as fuck. Gabbling on about all manner of shit and getting most of it wrong, Middle East conflicts, oil, politics, football…everything they discussed had been printed in the Sun that morning. That made me feel better as I figured I was more cultured then they were. Ah, but then if I felt cultured again whereas before that I felt uncultured, then there must be varying degrees of culture. There must be culture rankings. So who is the most cultured compared to the least cultured? Who can say they are cultured? Who can say someone is not cultured? I’m guessing the head honcho in the Tate gallery probably wanks off every morning at how cultured he or she is. Damian Hirst running about chopping animals in half probably thinks he’s pretty cultured. What about that woman who displayed her shit smeared messy bed as a work of art? She must be uber cultured. So the Romanian woman and those fellas on the train then, they’re not cultured? Is that it? The cafe owner who doesn’t bother with the little squiggly line over his e, and puts usable fucking handles on his mugs…is he not cultured? But then we speak of the culture of groups. We say that’s their culture. So culture is more than being so posh you can’t put handles on mugs is it? Whoa! Slow down. I need the rules here, where are the instructions? Right, so culture is subjective then? Ah I get it. Well in that case Mr Fuckity Pants, you fuck off because if something is subjective then it comes down to opinion, taste and feeling and your opinion, taste and feeling is based on you and your experiences, not mine. Damian Hirst can stop chopping shit up because his culture is subjective therefore it’s what he thinks and has nothing to do with me. Shitty bed woman can go learn to paint a nice picture cos sure as shit that isn’t art, that’s blagging that is. That’s waking up remembering you promised to provide them with an exhibit to show then offering them the stinky pit you just crawled out from. Fat bloke with a beard is cultured because he sings nice songs that make me feel weird. I like his culture. I like what I like…that’s my culture. I don’t like being made to feel as though I am less than cultured, or that someone is trying to show how more cultured they are. Because, as we have just learnt, culture is subjective. Therefore your subjective culture is in no way better, or worse, than anyone else’s. The next time someone tells you that you are uncultured do not feel bad. It is subjective. An opinion and not a fact. You are cultured. You are more cultured than Hirst, Emin (messy bed woman) and the preening head honcho at the Tate and I would rather have my cappuccino mugs with handles and sit down with three blokes and talk shit about the world while the nice old Romanian woman pickpockets some artistic fuckwit any day of the week. But then that’s just my opinion. Which is subjective too. Zombies rule.


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