Search for the brat within you

Terence Blacker confronts his inner child and tries to explain a few salient points

ON BALANCE, I think we'll be giving this weekend's Personal Development Show at Olympia a miss. I realise that, from tomorrow onwards, over 10,000 people are expected and that, if you add to that figure the various inner children, secret warriors, goddesses within, shadows, mirrors and alternative personalities that each visitor will be bringing, we could be talking in millions, but I think I'll stay here on my own.

I don't want personal development. From what I've seen of him, my inner warrior is a whingeing, niggling little creep who annoys the very people I want to please. My shadow is a devious, randy, unattractive thing, entirely devoid of moral scruples. As for my inner child, he's a grizzling, self- pitying little brat, forever going through one of those famous "difficult phases".

Oh, you think you're so great, don't you? Such a typical parent. Like, where d'you, like, get off with all this totally lame patronising?

But you're so gloomy, you inner children. One never seems to hear of a hey-guys- let's-go-down-the-pub-party-dude inner child. Oh no. It's all introversion and staring out of the window and bursting into tears at the sound of a blackbird, or Rule Britannia at the last night of the Proms, or James Taylor singing Sweet Baby James.

Oh, please. What is your problem? Why's it such a big deal to take me to Olympia? All the other parents are taking their inner children.

All right, I suppose you're grown-up enough to know the truth. The fact is I've had it up to here with personal growth - all this worshipping at the great shrine of Me gives me the creeps. Love yourself? Get to know yourself? Stand in front of the mirror and say "Hey, guy, you're OK"? It's just another excuse for selfishness.

Duh. Like, no one's selfish in this house, right?

All I'm saying is that, if you spend your life searching for the hero inside yourself, the rest of the world tends to become nothing more than a shadowy backdrop to the endlessly fascinating personal drama unfolding within your precious psyche.

Yeah so, like, the best way to be mature and grown-up is to scurry about worrying about your career, right? Er, I don't think so.

That's it - that's the great myth of personhood. You honestly believe that all this feeling and caring and self-nurturing is a healthy reaction to the hard-eyed greed-is-good ethic of the Eighties. In fact, it's exactly the same. But whereas 10 years ago, the received wisdom was that if the individual was expansive and ambitious, then society would benefit, today the argument is that, if I'm happy, self-knowing and "centred", then the world will magically be a better, more nurturing place. You're an emotional Thatcherite.

Booooooring. What's a Thatcherite? Something you repair the roof with?

And here's the real kicker. The effect of all this individualism is that it leads to a sort of bullying conformity. You're only accepted as a worthwhile member of society if you care in precisely the right way. It's no coincidence that, in the months following the death of Diana, a quantum leap in national self-confidence became evident. Caring's a competitive business; it gives you the chance to exert moral authority over others, to feel superior to those less sensitive than yourself.

Lalalala. Notlisteningnotlisteningnotlisteningnotlistening.

Look at Vanessa or Ricki or Oprah. You can own up to being a dysfunctional sex addict of the worst kind but, if you're sorry and you cry the obligatory tears, then the studio audience will be merciful. Because, hey, you're in a healing place. On the other hand, the sad, bad characters (usually men) who, with blundering slack-jawed innocence, actually dare to defend their behaviour, invoke the wrath of the screaming pack of self-righteous prats in the audience.

Hello? All we inner children are saying is that you should get in touch with your feelings. Is that, like, so difficult to come to terms with?

Feeling, feeling - everything's feeling. Whatever happened to thinking?

OK, so let me get this right. It's the action of a thinking person not to go to the Personal Development Show in case he comes across something that frightens him out of his sad little life.

That's quite enough of that! You can go to your room, right now!

Miles Kington returns next week.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?