23/09/2016 09:10 BST | Updated 23/09/2017 06:12 BST

Our Unhealthy Obsession With Celebrities And Along Came A Spider

There is an expression in French which goes like this: 'I am what I am.' And while I'm at it, another comes to mind: 'It is what it is.' Perhaps we should ponder on these words in light of the Brangelina breakup which has so many supposedly shocked and even devastated.

There is an expression in French which goes like this: 'I am what I am.' And while I'm at it, another comes to mind: 'It is what it is.' Perhaps we should ponder on these words in light of the Brangelina breakup which has so many supposedly shocked and even devastated.

Firstly, none of us know the two main characters personally therefore to be overwhelmed with shock and sadness is a bit of an exaggeration. Secondly, seeing a 'perfect' union dismantle seems to have surprised everyone. What is a 'perfect' union? People marry and get divorced all the time. There is no idyllic meeting of mind and body which lasts forever. Marriage is generally a compromise of wills with the sole objective of staying together especially if there are children involved. If there are no children involved, a couple may choose to stay together because they value the companionship and know each other sufficiently well to realise there is no greener verge to head to, at least not in the present moment. As one gets older and sees the clock ticking faster than normal, staying together makes more sense than being alone in geriatric bliss. Age brings a rationalism that the thrust of young, panting love simply cannot understand.

Our vacuous supermarket mentality and approach to all things means that we place celebrities up there with demi-gods and anoint them with higher powers of self-awareness and intelligence than they may actually be capable of. Beautiful (tick). Rich (tick). Successful (tick). Attractive offspring (tick). OMG they tick all the right boxes, they ARE perfect and therefore indestructible.

A little lesson in philosophy: there is NO perfection on earth that involves the human condition. A bird may have perfect colour symmetry on its wings, a flower may appear extraordinarily beautiful because it astounds the senses but human beings are flawed. A good looking person is capable of being a complete nutter or sociopath. A successful person can appear to have it all but consider that domestic violence is the highest reported crime in prosperous Surrey* which has the greatest proportion of millionaires in the UK (*Domestic Abuse Strategy for Surrey 2013-2018).

Celebrities are in fact no different to you or I. They simply appear to be. Money elevates as everything the heart desires is quickly within reach. We can change the way we look, dress or even behave when money is no object but we cannot change who we are. Human beings have a disadvantage over every other species in the natural world- they have a proclivity to be miserable and free will gives them the choice to make mistakes. A mouse reaching for the cheese in the trap is not conscious of making a bad decision. We, on the other hand, err with our eyes wide open, already knowing the consequences of our actions.

If all of life were a gilded ride with no obstacles to jump over or sadness to endure, humanity would never have evolved. There would be no artists, writers, painters, thinkers, statesman who literally changed the course of history or anyone for that matter who challenged themselves to be better at anything in particular. We would all still be stuck in a cave munching on a dinosaur leg.

Yes, even celebrities are forced to learn how to endure when staring at the harsh reality of living (that is if they are fully compos mentis and not addled in a haze of drugs and booze). Endurance without going stark raving mad is the human condition. It is simply put, what we're here for. I am what I am. It is what it is.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Along Came A Spider

I was reminded of the expression 'we are no better or worse than anyone else' as I watched a spider kill a wasp today. First the spider ensnared the much maligned wasp (so cruelly despised in the British summer months). Once trapped in the deceptively powerful filaments that constitute a spider's web, the wasp flapped about helplessly. Along came the spider, casually striding over. The spider sized up his lunch and decided to wait a little longer. The wasp was becoming more tired and his imprisonment meant that any resistance would be futile. The spider saddled over to the wasp and began to strike him with his legs. The wasp's sting emerged but it could be that I saw correctly? The spider continued to hit the wasp and the wasp impaled himself with his own sting. Perhaps that is the romantic in me who thought that the wasp committed a type of harakiri but I shall never know. After the wasp's body had turned limp, the spider dragged him off and stored him in a separate web. (All of this took place in my kitchen as I was cooking a beef stew.)

Do remember therefore that there will always be those more powerful and cunning than us. Choose your enemies wisely.

PS The spider has every right to inhabit my kitchen and so I have left him be along with the various corpses in his pantry.