The Dark Side of the Cult of the Bloke.
I think most of you are familiar by now with my website ‘Families Against Cult Teachings,’ and of my tireless work in pursuit of cults that seek to rupture family life. I mentioned in my blog last month that I was leafleted by a particularly pernicious group calling themselves ‘Bloke’ while I was working under cover outside the Scientology Centre on Tottenham Court Road last month. It was clear from the leaflet that this cult’s sole target and exclusive focus is on the entrapment of the father / son / brother alone, with the purpose of luring them away from family life or even against the prevailing political correctness of the workplace, to turn them inward towards worship of “The Bloke.’
Now this ‘Bloke’ – clearly a deity of some sort – is never directly addressed or revealed, but simply alluded to through the constant singing and chanting of repetitive mantras, rather in the style of Hare Krishna but more raucous. Perversely, followers are led to believe that this Bloke resides within them as an ‘inner bloke’; as an internal voice that directs and guides in all matters, to the exclusion of any other value system or doctrine that may have been installed or naturally evolved through their conditioned life experience.
I have never before in all my long experience of cult watching encountered such a totalising assault on family life, where patriarchal power is promoted to the point of exclusion of the distaff side. So influential is this cult that they are infiltrating the power system at all levels, even to the extent of seeming to have their own show on national Radio Three. ‘Talk with another man and he is your friend. Sing with another man and he is your brother’ is the mantra this cult live by.
Their global reach through mainstream radio far eclipses the minority god- bothering evangelical radio shows that you encounter in the USA. This is simply the most sophisticated cult I have ever come across. This weekend past I bravely managed to infiltrate the annual gathering of the Bloke in a field in deepest, most inaccessible Wiltshire, putting all of the personal danger to one side in order to get the information out to you, my dear community of readers and armchair vigilantes. In the joining directives from the Inner Circle of the Bloke I was told only to bring lots of money and a folding chair.
Now it is not at all unusual for cults to demand money up front and set up stipends but this folding chair injunction baffled me completely. I now understand that it was all part of the early destabilising process. If you ever get tangled up with this Inner Circle then beware – these people are really smart, and will stop at nothing to bend you to their will.
This year at their annual indoctrination they were celebrating five years of Blokehood, where the original cult founders were honoured and revered. Stories were told, myths were recounted of the barren world Before Bloke, (BB) when men were forced to sing in Barber Shop quartets, Welsh Male Voice ensembles or even worse mixed choirs. BB was the worst of times, when men even had to spend weekends in shopping malls and garden centres, trailing after their spouses.
By contrast, we were directed to bask in the glory of After Bloke, and to rejoice in the sunny uplands of male liberation that accompany this fresh Bloke- infused consciousness. While the Festival of the Bloke was only five years old, implicit, shady claims were made by the leaders suggesting that the genesis of Bloke goes way back, way back in history, to the earliest of days when men learned to sing while sailing and fishing together, always without women, who were left to take care of family and the land.
The triumph of the Inner Circle was its genius in capturing and then codifying the core of blokeness, then committing that essence to a litany of song. Towards the conclusion of Blokefest, this Inner Circle awarded themselves golden garments arrayed in Bloke hieroglyphics that distinguish them from we mere acolytes clad in papal purple, though adorned with the same hieroglyphics. What was so unusual about this cult was that it made no claims to have the one single leader who brought the word down from on high, though I suspected that no cult could survive long without such a guru, moving among them.
Had the Fellowship of the Bloke rediscovered the Holy Ghost; or was Bloke Incarnate moving among us after all, secretly surveying our every manly move, for signs of apostasy? And were the Inner Circle mere apostles, offering beery loaves and fishes, mouthpieces for this higher power? On arrival our vehicles were taken away and impounded in far away field. A shadowy black Land Rover Defender patrolled the perimeter constantly, ever alert for escapees.
In a dismal tent we had to queue for hours to be registered, where our details were painstakingly recorded and entered on a spreadsheet. (I tried to lie about my age and median income, to test the system, but they caught me out.) We had our clothing removed, to be replaced by a heavily branded purple tee shirt that had to be worn at all times. We were warned really early on that – despite this being a weekend packed with exciting sporting events – that no contact was allowed with the outside world, especially the sporting world.
This warning was repeated throughout the weekend and sue enough anyone found trying to sneak in scores was swiftly silenced. Equally we were not allowed to discuss the forthcoming European referendum, lest it distract from our fullest Blokish immersion in a different, more oppressive politics entirely. No contact was allowed at all with the work-women that were among us as food slaves. These slaves were led by the draconian Susie the merciless, alleged agent of the much feared Gilly of Ashton Keynes.
On site, Susie was guarded at all times by Big Mike, one of the Inner Circle, whose ostensible role was to fry bacon over a primitive fire while watching for any man exhibiting outbreaks of libido. I was later to discover that this particular bacon is a well known sexual suppressant, the bromide of the porcine world. We were given Bloke inscribed pint glasses, out of which we were ordered to drink only beer at metronomic intervals, all the better to keep us in a permanent miasma.
The production of food was spasmodic, cloying, and we were permitted no choice of diet. Once we were registered, some of us were assigned to particular tribal compounds within the wider camp, while others were sent consigned to arbitrary pitches, left to fend for themselves. Each of the tribes had their own leader drawn for the Inner Circle, with each displaying a distinctly different social culture and pecking order that in many ways reflected their leaders’ personalities (and perhaps psychoses.)
Those assigned to tribes were let to know just how fortunate they were to have such security and manly comfort around them, while those sent to random pitches felt the full force of social isolation. Some even had an additional netting tent placed over their own smaller tent to amplify the sense of separation from the tribes. By contrast – and without explanation – a few privileged others were allowed to enter the site in huge camper vans, I suspect to stoke the phenomenon of ‘accommodation envy’, and generally destabilise the social compact.
We rarely saw the inhabitants of these vans. I imagine they were some sort of corporate sponsors, there to witness rather than participate, while they feasted on prawn sandwiches and Prosecco, warm inside their motorised cocoon. Among the tribes, the militant AK47 were clearly the most powerful. They certainly made the most noise. Eschewing any need for a protective gazebo, they huddled by night around an open fire, drinking brandy while generally blocking the passage of others along the rutted road; especially hindering the free movement of the Manchoir from Oxford, who had to tiptoe around the fierce AKs to find the sanctuary of their own sanitised camp, which hugged tight to the furthest away hedge.
This august Oxford group endured daily readings from the Guardian each morning, while big Steve conducted regular seminars on the benefits of renewable energy for anyone polite enough to listen. Those that cycled to the event basked in smug self-satisfaction. Steve by contrast arrived in a huge transporter van, though it may well have been full of windmills. Strangely it was among this group that the outbreak of the ‘chair wars’ was at its most intense.
The requirement for varying quality and comfort levels of folding chairs was clearly designed to destabilise groups through invidious contrast, but this group took it to the furthest degree. No sooner would someone stand up to escape the renewables seminar than another would occupy their chair. Tension flared, and soon chairs were being broken and even thrown, with alcohol free beer bottles flying though the air with parabolic intent.
This scholarly frenzy far eclipsed any of the fights between the English and Russian football fans that occurred that weekend, but then we were never allowed to know of outside sports, so they knew not of the aspect of the national psyche that they were channeling. So thin, then is the veneer of cilvilisation. The Liverpool Beddington Bittermen never strayed too far from their table, groaning with hard liquor as it was, though occasionally they would break into song, inexplicably accompanied by bellows from a large yellow trombone.
The Ikley lot were quiet, confused by having no Lancastrian group to play off against, while the London Chaps Choir merely dreamt of their next cappuccino served on a cushioned sofa by a man with a beard. On the mark of the hour, ever hour, we were summoned to work by an unignorable blast on a Vuvuzela, piercing any attempt at seditious chatter that might have stirred during our limited down time.
The work was hard, and the hours were long, and the treatment surely took some bearing. Our workplace was a desolate place, a cavernous, draughty tent where we were required to simulate the hauling of halliards and the pressing of capstans for hours on end, all the while singing our Bloke songs until every note, every phrase was deeply engrained in our souls. When our singing flagged, fresh song-masters were brought in from the outside to ensure that we continued to ‘Sing like a Bloke,’ while our leaders broke away to their own elite little top to plot further indoctrination.
Perhaps the scariest substitution from the bench of all was the late night introduction of the Roaring Trowmen on Saturday, just when our voices and most of our money and senses were spent. They hoisted the shanty spinnaker and drove us on, relentlessly, towards dawn. The mood though, strange to relate, was not one of endless deprivation, but instead one of brotherhood. The Inner Circle were really clever in mixing up their humiliating privations with regular ‘love bombing,’ so favoured by cults the world over. In the spirit of the love bomb, they told us that we were the ‘chosen ones.’
They celebrated our smartness in leaving all of our mundane existences behind us to come join them, reminding us continually that no group of men had ever been so happy as we were together. The songs themselves once learned were indelibly etched in memory, some utterly sad, others uplifting, most simply beautiful. You could not help but fall in love with those songs, and in parallel grow unwavering attachment to the leaders that taught them. Perhaps at some other level we had fallen in love with the ineluctable power that lay behind the music, and its ability to take we men to a different place beyond which there is no return to normalcy.
I was mesmerized, quite entranced, despite being armed with knowledge of the mechanics of cult entrapment that should inoculate me against such transports. By night we were forced – yes, you guessed it – to sing, yet again, and to carouse. At this point some underlying agendas began to reveal themselves, to those of us attentive to the subtexts. One of the Liverpudlians harangued us on the impossibility of men ever understanding women, reminding us as to how we needed to be vigilant to every woman’s apparently innocuous utterance.
One of the Manchoir, a quiet-seeming chap, warned us in song of the dangers of seduction by a ‘beautiful stranger,’ summoned by a old crone fortune-teller. The AK’s lustily glorified the tale of a man ‘who took the knife in his hand, and she laughed no more.’ In all of our songs of the sea, women were objectified, referred to only by the universal appellation of ‘Nancy.’ We were reminded that if a woman wished to take to sea, for purpose of servicing an officer, then she would need to disguise as a man. The signage for the womens’ toilets in the washhouse were torn down, to be gleefully replaced by badly drawn “Blokes’ insignia.
The baby changing shelves were appropriated for purposes too degraded to describe in this family- orientated blog. Surely all of this put together is suggestive of the ‘dispensing of existence’ so tellingly theorised by Lifton in his analysis of cult life? All around this unfolding tableau, a wizard of a man with a bowler hat adorned with pheasant feathers, atop wisps of fragile blond hair, danced among us, always insinuating himself into the centre of things, no matter what time of day or night. He was ever leading us on, in pied piper fashion, pulling us together in song, despite our fatigue and our protests for him to stop.
Was this willow-the-wisp the Shamen, I wondered? Was he the wild man, the Casteneda, the Gollum, the jester in our midst, the one who lives on the edge of the village, on the margins, to beguile us, to entrance us; then suddenly to magically reveal our future to us? As I listened to his plaintive falsetto, I even speculated that he might be the Bloke himself, in most incongruous disguise. Could he be the ‘strange attractor’ that binds the whole group together, who provides coherence, in quantum physics terms? Either way, this man out-of-time must be at some level at the heart of this project and the philosophy behind it; or else he is a glorious distraction, planted by the Inner Circle to put us off the scent.
All we know for certain is that he says he comes from Watford. By Sunday morning, as the rain fell on my tent, I felt that I had been in this camp forever, had known no other life. I knew then that it was now or never, ere I surrendered completely to my inner bloke. I needed to get out before my soul was lost. And so it was that I never made it to the ending of this congregation, though I surmise that it must have been an awful apocalypse, in a Jonestown type of way. I tried to make my excuses and leave, but my exit was spotted by Darren, the camp commandant and guardian of all onsite movements. It was a close run thing, but I somehow managed to track down the keys to my car, while Darren was distracted by having to organise the rival tribes in the work tent in a murderous, atavistic tug-of-war.
In my haste to get away I abandoned my tent and all else – even my folding chair that had survived the melee – to flee this dank field and seek the comfort of the ordinary, away from this banality of evil. I suspect many others also fled, leaving all behind. I know this because the Inner Circle persist in emailing us, seeking to lure us back into the cult through the bait of recovering plentiful lost property.
Back home, while slowly desensitising myself through exorcism of these of the echoes of these ingrained songs, I remained curious as to the possibility that behind all of this seductive power, there must a leader in the shadows, somewhere, manifesting this strange Blokish life form. I let my mind wonder back to fragments of conversation I had overheard whispered among the Inner Circle.
Listening intently, I heard sotto voce mentions of ‘tabs;’ and heard the ‘spooky’ word, muttered quietly over and over; together with an oft repeated phrase along the lines of ‘Stephen would have loved to have been here, to see what he began, what he had created.’ I ventured deep into the dark net to research these clues and began to find fragmented mentions of this spooky Stephen. Could he really be The Bloke, alive in this time though far away, perhaps campaigning in a hotter place for renewables and climate change? The web would seem to suggest so. Should this text have affected you – or any males in your family – then please go to my website for inoculation http://www.familiesagainstcultteachings.org/Cult-Education/Cult-Warning-Signs/ Daniel Doherty June 2016