The vicious cruelty gene – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

One day I will die and all my things will be divided up. Some will go to friends as mementoes. Some will be distributed to the family. Liz will keep some of them. My kids will have some. I will take pleasure in knowing that things will go to people that might get them out from time to time and think of me. I don’t know why that is? It will not matter to me. I shall be dead.



Perhaps it is necessary to wield the bomb and bullet and just eradicate all the evil bastards! Get rid of all the genes that breed fascists and torturers in one fell swoop!

It seems so easy!

But that’s frustration talking. Nothing is easy. It is likely that we all have the nasty genes. We all enjoy destruction, we all love cruelty. It is merely that most of us are better at suppressing it, or have never found ourselves in situations that are conducive to our nasty side becoming developed or expressed. But it is latent in us.

We have descended from the people that built Shakespeare’s Globe – but we also descended from the people who designed the pits for cockfighting, bear-baiting and bull-baiting that took place next door to the Globe. We are still the same as the people who organised the rules for blinding the bears, badgers and dogs and ripping their claws out to make the baiting more of a spectacle.

We designed the bullrings and flocked to them in our thousands, to bring the kids and have a family outing full of laughter and excitement, cheering as the animals were jabbed and speared and stabbed and teased or ripped apart before our eyes. The more bellows of pain and gore the better. What a day out for the family!

We are the descendants of those people. I do not think we have changed much in a few hundred years. The Taliban and Isis demonstrated that very clearly.

You can imagine the conversations around the family table a few hundred years ago. ‘Perhaps tomorrow we could go to the execution? I’ve heard they’ve got some new techniques. There are these wicked curved things they use to rip the entrails out and then they burn the guts while they are still attached and to the dirty criminals. I bet that makes the eyes water. More than merely crushing bollocks or pouring molten lead in ears. Then they have these great shire horses that they use to rip their legs and arms off. Bet that makes them scream?’

‘What fun!’

Perhaps we should just do the world a favour and do away with ourselves, slit our own throat, rip our own nails out, poke red hot pins in our own eyes?

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Sometimes, I think that there is something intrinsically wrong with the whole human race and that the world would be better off without us. Then a crisis comes along and there is always a multitude of kind people risking their own lives to help others or rescue an injured animal – every day a million acts of selfless kindness.



You can’t put your own aspirations on your kids. I think my Dad gave me a platform on which to build, but my life is nothing like his.



How many times have I let people down?



I’m guilty of playing the material game. I’ve surrounded myself with possessions, all of which seem important to me. After I am gone they will not be important at all.

Some of my things will be sold, some given to charity and some thrown in the bin where they belong.


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