Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23. Day 205. Skeletons in the closet

Mr O, aged 14, is working on the world's next great novel. (By great I hope he means well written and not just best selling because I'd hate to think another 50 Shades was inflicted on the world, but I digress).
It's a piece of alternative history where you have to envisage what would have happened IF one critical event had gone the other way. How, for example, would US history have evolved differently if the lone gunman in the Texas School Book Depository had missed?
As best I can follow, the great novel is set in Europe at the time where the great monarchies still reigned supreme. But the course of history is changed and the revolutions that saw them overturned were suppressed.
Key to this are several spies each with a guilty secret which if it got out could be their undoing.
So Mr O is deciding what these secrets would be. He wants things that today we wouldn't batter an eyelid about but which at the time were scandalous. He wants skeletons in the closet.
He's decided there will be an unwed mother, a gay man and a divorcee but he wants another one. So he asks me. Someone as old as his mother must know what things used to be frowned on in the distant past.
I suggest a severe mental illness somewhere in the family.
He looks at me like I've somehow not understood the plot. Mental illness something to be ashamed about?
He tells me matter of factly about 14-year-olds in the playground or library  discussing their psychiatrists. Counsellors and psychologists are quite common place.
Now you could say that's a sign the world has gone mad (pun intended).]
Actually while I wonder about the amount of stress that we place on our teenagers I do think that it is a step forward that discussing mental health plans is akin to taking about managing diabetes or an asthma management plan: where mental illness is no more or less stigmatised than physical illnesses.
We need to get those skeletons out of the cupboard. The skulls in today's photo were not in the cupboard - but not far from it.
They were piled in a plastic bag in a strange room on campus I presume to be an art studio. There was just one pottery rose among the skulls. Also in the room was a bra made out of clothes pegs, a necklace constructed from a string of gold teeth and a painting of two men wearing reindeer ears kissing. I'm sure in days gone by the artists responsible would have been locked up. You could have been certified for less. Now we call it artistic freedom.
Yep, at times it does seem that the world has gone mad. At least we are free to talk about it and don't have to hide it in the closet.

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