I Tire of My Spine

Since a very young age, I have known I do not need a spine.

In school I was indoctrinated into believing the complex stack of vertebrae in my back constituted the central neural highway of my body and was my primary means of mobility, but this is a reductive view. Western Traditional Medicine (WTM) tells us the spine should not be broken or removed. When my WTM-centric doctor tells me not to break apart my vertebrae like Lego and wiggle them out through a small opening I have made in my coccyx, what they are really telling me is to conform to society’s standards. As a man, I find that troubling.

Phrases like ‘being spineless’, ‘stiff upper spine’ and ‘having a working back’ are deeply ingrained in the way we talk to men. Unlearning this syntactic bias will require flexibility, something I have in abundance since removing my entire vertebral column. Now, when my girlfriend tells me I need to grow a backbone, I simply flop my chest cavity in what I imagine to be her general direction and tell her I am physically incapable of doing anything, let alone regrowing unnecessary bone structures or helping with the washing up.

In this way, I have finally liberated myself from the power women had over me. I wouldn’t go back for the world.


In November 2017, I took it upon myself to launch a social experiment to prove to the world – more specifically, Twitter user @unwanted_thot1992 – that it was not only possible, but easy, for an average British man (wife, dog, benign but appealing outer layer of Caucasian skin) to live without ‘white privilege’. All it required was for me to live the rest of my life in a small wooden box underneath the Peak District. Let’s see me benefit from structural and systemic inequalities down there.

Should you wish to follow in my footsteps, all that’s required is a reasonably spacious, custom-built plywood container, basic plumbing facilities and sufficient canned foods to last the next 20 to 40 years. I would invest a few thousand on this on this if possible, which isn’t too expensive if you have savings.

I’m glad to say I almost completely succeeded in my experiment and would have continued my success had my wife, colleagues and friends not grown concerned when, on Monday, the spaces normally filled by my slouching form were curiously vacant. There was a great flurry of questions at work and a Whatsapp group was created. My cousin, who is ex-police force, was contacted and he managed to prioritise a missing person’s alert, which in turn led to a city-wide campaign.

CCTV near Hathersage picked me up leaving my vehicle to explain to a cow how racism can actually work both ways, because I can’t sing along to all the words in some NWA songs.

A mass search was called across Derbyshire. Poster campaigns emphasising my job, my family, and my weekend charity runs were plastered across lampposts and slotted into the cracks in dry stone walls. An army of volunteers combed the fields. They found nothing until, in early December, someone overheard the muted sounds of me laughing at YouTube videos on my phone, muffled by 20 inches of soil. They dug through the ceiling of my now-rancid subterranean shack and hauled me out.

My experiment came to the end prematurely, but if nothing else I proved that it is possible to live without privilege if one is brave enough.