Let’s Talk About Wednesday

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I love a hypothesis. Even silly ones. It’s not about the outcome, it’s all about the journey. Just like Strictly Come Dancing. A while back I was trying to explain how my mind works, “basically,” I joked, “I’m Wednesday Addams”.

I am not Wednesday Addams. I’m a middle aged professional from a pleasantly leafy area of rural England. But writers rarely pluck a character out of nowhere. Even Pinky and the Brain were based on real people. Somewhere there might have been a real Wednesday…

Before I go any further I have to add a content warning. This gets really dark, really fast. Right after this kitten picture.

I Think, Therefore I am Irrelevant

Much as I protest about it, I am somewhat a Nihilist. So we’re off to a good start.

It’s quite beautiful, in a strange way. One day people will stop speaking your name. One day nothing you ever did will be of any detectable significance. One day the Earth will crash into The Sun. At some point, the existence of this entire race of talking apes along with the rock to which we cling will be of no more significance than TOWIE.

“Oh but you can’t really believe that?” I get asked. A lot.
Of course I don’t; it’s a matter of fact so belief is not required.

No, you’re right, that never helps.

It’s also unfair, because the question people ask is about belief. The answer is that I’m not a real Nihilist. I like to believe that humanity matters; Wednesday Addams does too, because neither of us are psychopaths.

Seriously, she isn’t.

We’re emotionally complete humans, with all the love, hate, anger, empathy, compassion and every other emotion that brings. The inevitable collapse of our solar system into a black hole is no basis for deciding if you should let the old lady with only one item ahead of you in the queue at Sainsbury’s. We might know that none of it matters, but we are not solely creatures of logic. We believe that it does. In fact, we believe very strongly that it does. Even though it doesn’t.

In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan – from The Pale Blue Dot

The Call of the Void

Wednesday is famous for her love of all things dark. From the clothes she wears to the books she reads, even to the humour that cuts a conversation dead. Me, I don’t feel the need to wear that on my sleeve.


A friend once described me as “relentlessly analytical”. It was mostly a compliment. The barb is that word “relentless”. He was always telling me to chill out, not to overthink everything. Occasionally, in a particularly frustrated hour, I wish I had that option. The mind that creates the algorithms that move equipment and people to save lives is also the mind that sees what the magician’s other hand is doing, literally and metaphorically.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t want to see, that I want to believe in magic.

Cleverness, insight, whatever you want to call it is a blessing. Relentlessness is a curse; a brain that just won’t stop analysing, smashing through anything and everything in its path. It destroys all beauty and wonder, renders everything down to nothing more than mundane constituent parts.

Beauty is just survival of the fittest. Love is just a chemical imbalance in your brain.

There is nothing that is not pulled to pieces and wrecked.

You might be tempted to think that this must make me desperately unhappy. It doesn’t.

Not for me, but I am all too aware of its potential. Ask yourself how you stop a brain that just relentlessly keeps on feeding you the most negative, hopeless interpretation of every situation?

I don’t sleep so I don’t dream so I don’t wake up frightened.

The Sisters of Mercy – On the Wire

The easiest thing to do is to stop it thinking. Drugs work, if you take the right ones. Alcohol works too. Both are temporary, both have short term and much longer term consequences, some of which are decidedly ugly. Neither are a sustainable solution.

Downhill mountain biking works, because it’s kind of difficult to mull the essential pointlessness of being when every fibre of that being is fighting to avoid slamming into a tree at 60kph. In fact, playing any sport works pretty well, but you can’t play sport all the time.

Meditation helps, mindfulness helps in that taking time to take care of your brain enables you to get some perspective and understand what’s really important.

If you have some understanding of anxiety I might have ticked a few boxes there. People who have problems with anxiety often report spiralling negative thought patterns, pushing them into dark places they find it tough to get out of. That’s really not me.

I find it difficult not to analyse every possible interpretation. Sure, I go to complex and dark places that other people don’t, but I don’t get stuck there. I also look at the most positive possible interpretations. I might be cynical, but I’m actually well balanced.

It’s good to remember that happiness isn’t an absolute, it’s a modifier over a baseline. That’s why some of the poorest, most hard working people can be some of the happiest and why billionaires can be completely miserable.

There’s never been a version of me that didn’t relentlessly analyse everything. There’s never been a version of me that wasn’t comfortable with the darker side of things. It’s my baseline.

Yes it can be a tough road sometimes, but it’s something I wouldn’t change. There’s a reason why things I do tend to work out OK and it’s not luck. There are very considerable advantages to being who I am.

Agents for the Good of Humanity

Wednesday gets unfairly maligned on the supposed unhappiness one too. All the evidence, however, indicates the exact opposite. Wednesday is a highly driven, forcefully positive person. She makes things happen. She and I might not have normal views on what is positive, but you can’t deny that we’re both motivated…

Judge Death wants to eliminate all crime. The only way to do that is to eliminate all sources of crime, i.e. people.

Yes, it’s very unlikely that anything we do today will matter in thousand years and – butterfly effect aside – less in a million. Tomorrow, however, it will. Since the dream of tomorrow is all we have, what we do today really does matter. Wednesday and I are always trying, in some way, to help our friends, our family, our society and the whole of humanity.

However, whilst we might be agents working for the good of humanity: that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Humanity that is.

Fundamentally I’m a geek and there’s a reason geek cafés exist. Rarely do people think, “I know, I’ll invite that computer programmer to my party, they’re always good value at social events.”

I’m kind of lucky though, I grew up with the arts as much as science: I’ve learnt the protocols, I’ve learnt to read the room. It’s not 100% natural, but people are often surprised to find I’m quite so technical.

I get the impression that Wednesday and I differ here. I am a social creature at heart, it’s just that I find over-socialising to be tiring. Wednesday does appear to be genuinely antisocial. Not pathologically so, but her dress, her manner, the way she expresses herself do all tend to indicate that she views social interaction as purely a means to an end.

Perhaps I was like that when I was Wednesday’s age (or somewhat under 18). I’ve definitely come to appreciate people more as I’ve got older. I think we have to leave that one open.

Doing the Right Thing

It’s easy to understand why authority, why rules must exist. They are both, however, blunt tools. There is collateral damage, there are unintended consequences, side effects, overzealous officials, loopholes and situations that the rules simply weren’t designed to cope with.

In short, sometimes the rules get in the way of achieving the right result.

Wednesday has an advantage over me here, because she’s a fictional character. She can break whatever rules she likes in the certain knowledge that the writers will ensure that the correct outcome happens in the end.

Being an actual, real human in the real world complicates matters. You can easily find yourself facing stiff penalties even if you’re trying to do the right thing.

The real person has to consider the potential severity of those penalties, the risk of detection and the chances of weaselling out of it. There are other considerations, too, such as if the rule makers might have known something you hadn’t considered. We can’t just go around breaking rules when we find them inconvenient. On the other hand, sometimes – and with careful consideration – the best thing to do is not what the rules say you should do. I might have done that once or twice.

The Twist At The End

How can we wrap this up then? Well, personally, I think the main four of the Addams Family are just different expressions of the same character. Make Wednesday (more) stereotypically male gender, give her more experience, more confidence, make her more comfortable in herself and with others and you have Gomez.

The answer to the real hypothesis then, could I be like someone who inspired the main characters in The Addams Family? Yes, very easily I could. That wasn’t my point, though. It really was all about the journey – which means that someone, presumably in America, some time before 1938 had a lot of the same character traits as I do.

Inherently we know this, of course, but in a society that contains so much pressure to be normal it can be lonely and isolating to find yourself outside of that. This can be particularly true when you’re younger. If you relate to anything I’ve said here know you’re not alone, we’re actually not that uncommon at all.

If you’re thinking I’m describing someone you know then hopefully you understand them a little better. People are complex, we have different skills and abilities, but we also have different baselines, different ranges of thought that are normal for us. Being outside that is unhealthy, but it’s quite possible for someone to be in their normal range and outside of yours.

Humanity became the dominant species on Earth because of its diversity, adaptability, its ability to communicate and work as teams. Our differences are not things to try to hide or normalise out, they’re things we should celebrate. The world would be a much better place if we all remembered that.