- Written by Niall Saville
My pronouns in English are he/him.
I don’t say this because I think someone will get it wrong, and I am not sure I would mind if they did – but since it has never happened, that’s also rather easy to say.
So what kind of woke virtue signalling makes me write it?
Margaret Thatcher said in 1987 that there was “no such thing as society”. These remarks have been much debated and perhaps misrepresented - but at their core is, I think, a denial of the concept of solidarity. We live individually and within our smallest bubbles; it is not for us to worry about those who live alongside us.
The way I describe myself politically changes, but at the core I believe in solidarity. I believe politics should embrace empathy, and not step out of the way.
An accusation of virtue signalling often feels, to me, the same kind of denial of solidarity as the old “if you think people should pay more tax, write a cheque to the Treasury yourself”. Individualising the social must be something the left resists the right in doing, for the left to have any real meaning. Yes, there are those who want to gotcha other people. I've been frustrated. But at the heart, I want society to change in ways I want: more empathy, more kindness, more inclusion, more plurality of voices. It is vital for me that it is not people like me who speak on behalf of the others. And it is vital that they do speak, that platforms are given where society currently excludes or restricts opportunity.
Some people find their pronouns are not always what people first reach for. They might be trans, or non-binary, or something else – I am not sure I even know every possibility, and I don’t think I need to.
I want to open space, and give room for voices. If a way to do that is by offering and using pronouns, so that doing so becomes mainstream and unremarkable (even among a group who may all be he/him and she/her and assumed to be so) – not to increase attention but to lessen it – solidarity asks me to listen to the voices encouraging it, and to put my hand up. And so I have.
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- Written by Niall Saville
Last week, I cycled from Seoul to Busan.
This week, I'm writing about it. I'm not really though. I'm writing about writing.
The journey started not with a single turn of the pedals, but with buying provisions and gear; with checking weather forecasts and hotel recommendations; with debating whether my tyres would hold out (one replaced) and my panniers would survive (barely). Still, that was not nearly the imposition my mind had built it to be. I left a day later than I thought I would out of inertia and (whisper it) laziness, not necessity.
But left I did, and 620km later arrived in a hotel in Busan for a shower and a celebratory slice of pizza. And along that way I ate instant noodles and gukbap and sweet and sour pheasant and fried rice and many cereal bars, hunting open restaurants in each place and just once being abandoned to the supermarket.
Flat, straight cycle tracks followed rivers for kilometre after kilometre. There was fun in guessing which hills the path would curve completely around, and which it would take us up and over - and less fun in grinding up those unskipped. Somehow I had four punctures, one rear and three front, for reasons I never discovered. Tubes were purchased and my lack of foresight in bringing a frame pump cursed, and the passive voice employed.
And along the way I realised there were words inside of me. I find myself without work, without immediate prospect of work, rejected without interview from a few more roles and wondering what comes next. I delete some words that feel too introspective. Finding work is a numbers game, and now numbers are not on my wide. GDP growth, vacancies, applicants per vacancy, age? Perhaps I'm not ready for that last reflection. I'm closer to 50 than 30, after all.
In any case, in two weeks I'll likely leave Korea and I'll know very soon where to. I have preferences and possibilities and fall-backs, and an unwillingness to commit right now, so the flotsam will share the tides with me a little longer.
This is my blog, and I guess I'll write.
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Blog entries about sporting activities.