Fool On The Hill

Written By: The Lowdown - Jul• 01•13

Psychopaths. They’re all around us. They’re in our homes, they sit down to dinner with us. They loom behind us in the back seat as we drive, our bulging eyes alert in the rear view mirror to the next twist of their unpredictable behaviour. They roam our neighbourhoods in gangs and extort money out of us each day. They are easily recognised by reference to the Psychopathic Personality Inventory which catalogues the following behaviours: craving social influence, fearlessness, stress immunity, Machiavellian egocentricity, rebellious non-conformity, blame externalisation, cold-heartedness and carefree “nonplanfulness” (REALLY? Who made that word up? Rolls off the tongue like peanut butter).


They are by definition amoral. In their interpersonal relationships they exhibit glibness and superficial charm. They possess a grandiose sense of self worth, are natural and pathological liars and are cunning and manipulative. Exhibiting a lack of remorse and guilt for their actions they are emotionally shallow and fickle, often behaving callously and showing a lack of empathy and responsibility for their own actions. They require constant stimulation to avoid boredom in their lives, they are parasitic often requiring the energy of others to drive them. They have no realistic long term goals and are irresponsible and impulsive. They are antisocial exhibiting poor behavioural control, delinquency and criminal versatility. Do these medical definitions remind you of anyone you know?


No! Not tax inspectors, RTSA officers or merchant bankers. Kids!! I know when I am acting out any of those traits my wife calls me childish and I know that my kids exhibit all of the above, some of the time. We spend our lives on guard against psychopaths, primed by Hollywood to watch out for the bogeyman under the bed, the axe wielding maniac in the headlights of the car and the terrifying shadow behind the shower curtain … and then we breed them! And now it’s time to take the buggers out of the maximum security wing of our own home, on holiday and let them loose on the world.


“Yes you do swear all the time! You’re always calling people the female dog word.”

“I don’t all the time!”

“My friend Tim says he doesn’t know how I live with you. He says my life must be a nightmare having you as a little brother.”

“Tell Tim I hate him and I hope he dies.”

“Every day of my life I wish I could suicide myself just so I wouldn’t have to be your brother.”

“Why don’t you just stab yourself to death then?”
“Are you crazy? Stabbing yourself is the worst way to die. I wish I could just shoot myself in the head.”
“Why don’t you shoot me in the head, then you would be alive and you wouldn’t have to put up with me anymore?”

“Don’t be an arse! Then I would be in trouble and have to go to juvey. It’s just not worth it.”


This Sopranoesque dialogue came from the bathtub not five minutes ago, though might just as easily taken place in a restaurant at maximum volume, and it saddens me greatly. One always hopes that their children will all meld happily like the Waltons; the older ones repaying the adoration of their littler siblings with kind mentoring and guidance. But instead of fulfilling the image I have always harboured of having a brother to stand back to back in the playground with, defending each other from bullies, they appear to nurse a vendetta worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy. They are only united in their love of the youngest, for whose attentions they constantly battle. People tell me that this will pass and they will become friends later on but I can’t imagine how teenage life with girlfriends, competitive sports and motorised vehicles will present fewer, rather than more, opportunities for brotherly conflict. If nine years old represents the transition from psychopathic childhood into adult morality where disagreements are less likely to be solved with a hockey stick, then roll on the next two or three years.


For now we have to find somewhere safe to take the family for a month where we can all be together as one big happy family and minimise the bloodshed. Like most former island dwellers, now landlocked, we seek out that cathartic boundary where the water and land meet. Perhaps so the crashing waves will drown out the screams of fratricidal loathing.


We have always managed to find such places in the past and my boys are lucky enough to be growing up as utter sons of beaches. They can all, thankfully, swim now which makes life easier and the older two benefited greatly from being thrown in a swimming pool with a scuba bottle and draped with about 20kgs of lead weights last holidays. I emptied the cutlery draw and a wheelbarrow of pebbles in after them and told them they were salvage divers who would be hugely rewarded for the recovery of all the stray items on the “sea floor”. Great plan! They didn’t surface for about 45 minutes, what bliss! This holiday they will build on the sailing instruction they had in the shipping lanes of the English Channel last year and will hopefully, spurred on by pursuit from Somali dhows, be competent sailors by the end of the holidays; if they avoid the currents, pirates and sea urchins. We have some work to do on the holiday cottage, which will keep the tailors and gardeners of Jambiani busy during our stay as Gillie’s lust for projects and the delegation of their execution takes no vacation.


Since we will be visited by friends during our stay I will be on kitchen duty and trying to have some fun with converting large pelagic, torpedo shaped creatures into delicate sushi servings, figuring out how not to convert squid into vulcanised rubber, and rebuffing the attentions of “Baby Fish” a young man we have in the past casually employed to help out. Mr Fish appears to have formed an affection for me which borders on the obsessive. He fawns on my every move, stares deep into my eyes at every opportunity and strokes the back of my hand whenever I lay it down on the kitchen counter. Now, I have never considered myself to be a homophobe and I like gays as much as the next man (unless the next man is gay in which case probably not as much) but I find his attentions somewhat overbearing and will strive to put him on the right track this visit.


We will frolic in the sand (I and the kids … not Baby Fish) try to offset the profligate gluttony and drunkedness with early morning exercise and secretly enjoy a break from spending an hour a day being humiliated and made to feel totally inadequate in equestrian endeavour by an animal with the intelligence of a lawn mower and the single mindedness of an F-16’s ejector seat. We will cycle for miles along the beach and incur the wrath of the bicycle hiring man for messing up his chains with salt and sand, and in hijacking their swimming pool strain the hospitality of the guests and staff at Spice Island, the Italian hotel along the beach. I wonder if they have fixed their sign … last year some xenophobe had knocked the letter “E” off Spice and the “I” and “S” off island for a laugh. So, being un-PC, we did … sorry.


Wherever you roam, have a wonderful vacation. And, if you have kids, good luck and don’t forget to pack the Thorazine.

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