And now, for a post about my personal fantasies. No, wait, come back!
OK, let me rephrase that: a post about a personal fantasy of mine of the non-sexual kind. This is not going to be the post where I claim that I actually consider myself to be a wolf, reveal that I share my life with a blow-up doll in the shape of my favourite anime character or produce pictures of myself dressed as the woman called Clara that I was born to be. That would be silly, really, as everyone knows my blow-up doll is a wolf called Clara from an anime.
However, it will feature Will Smith, a couple of well-known movie lines and even a moral. And that moral is: never get your fantasies confused with everyone else’s reality.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the idea of being a king. We have to be more specific here, though – I’ve never wanted to be a king of the mediaeval, wear-armour-fight-wars-and-actually-run-the-government kind, still less of the fantasy literature “Behold! I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, here to destroy evil – oh, shit, this is “Game of Thrones”? Well, I guess I’m actually here to be a Mafia boss with a sword, then” kind. What I always wanted to be was the king of a suburb, usually the one I grew up in. And by king, I think I mean “sort of like a mayor, of the English, figurehead, kind, but with hereditary succession.” I’ve never really wanted to actually run my suburban kingdom, or even live in a huge palace in it. Normal living quarters would do.
What I would like to do is (a) wander around the place in pimped-out clothing, ideally of the ermine cape variety, and a crown (b) have everyone call me “the King” and listen with polite respect to my words of wisdom, which would undoubtedly include both “it’s good to be the King!” and indeed “Hail to the King, baby!” on a regular basis and (c) generally preside over things. Actually, minus the quotation-spouting bit and some of the pimped out clothes, it’s basically doing what the British Royal Family actually do, but for a suburb, and it’s amazing how keen the British are on these sort of figurehead roles, that give you some kind of dignity but no real power.
Most mayors or lord mayors in this country are basically like this, as are the holders of offices like Lord Lieutenant, Deputy Lieutenant or High Sheriff (I’m not kidding, there really are still people with those titles), and at a pinch you could even include the Pearly Kings and Queens of various parts of London. In Britain, you can actually aspire to be the king or queen of a suburb, town or county (no hereditary succession though).
Many people who’ve managed to read this far will have already concluded that I am stark raving bonkers, and be donning their internet psychiatrist hats to look for the reasons. I will admit that extensive teenage viewing of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” may have something to do with it, although in fact outside the title sequence Will Smith didn’t act in a notably princely manner in that show. More generally, I would maintain that there are a lot more ostensibly sane and rational adults who have non-sexual fantasies that they would like to admit to even less than their sexual ones. Fat and unfit middle-aged guys who still dream of Premiership stardom, men who are only waiting for that alien invasion to show their warrior credentials, the list goes on and on.
None of which really matters, as long as they are sane enough to understand that your fantasy is your fantasy, and that they can’t expect everyone else’s shared reality to adjust itself to it. And that’s exactly where the problem begins, especially in the age of the internet, which allows people, up to a point, to create artificial worlds in which they achieve their fantasy (and then throw absolute hissy fits when others don’t share their view that they are what they wish they were). There really are, for instance, people who think they are wolves at heart or that they have some kind of real-world relationship with their favourite anime character, and there’s no point telling them otherwise.
This can even spill over into ostensibly rational activities like politics. If, for instance, you are an online monarchist from the United States (they exist), then I hate to break it to you, but you are living a fantasy – the US is never going to decide that it was a mistake to get rid of George III. Likewise you internet communists and anarchists, libertarians and (although depending on exactly where you come from and exactly how you define it) socialists too – you are about as likely to win the masses over to your cause as I am to be invited to be monarch of a nice leafy suburb. These things are private dreams that won’t accept they are private dreams, and scream like toddlers deprived of a favourite toy when this is pointed out.
I mean, I want to be king of suburbia, but I wouldn’t seriously argue with anyone who considered this ridiculous. And I’m not going to set up an internet forum to discuss my aspirations with other wannabe royals and shut out the naysayers, either.