Tomorrow morning I have a bunch of shelves arriving on which I can tidy away all the “stuff” that is currently cluttering the spare room. The shelf units will need to go against the walls. Where the clutter is currently piled. What I need us somewhere to put the clutter to get it out of the way, so I can fit the units in. Like maybe some shelving. Ah. Bugger.
Smart phones and social networking must make it really tough for anybody who’s borderline delusional to keep things straight. For example, thanks to the wonder of the android “people” function and my Twitter follow list, I’ve just found Adrian Lester in my contacts.
Now I wouldn’t mind having the lovely and talented Mr Lester on my list of available dinner guests, but alas we’ve never met and it’s extremely unlikely we ever will. I have several real friends I know would be equally pleased to be asked to be at that table, but who are also realistic about the odds (sorry guys!)
But for those among us who struggle more with knowing where the lines are drawn, for whom the border between real and imagined is more blurred, it has to exacerbate their confusion, surely? Must feed into the fantasy of there being a true connection.
It’s a bloody complicated world.
Oh, and Adrian, anything except Friday works for me. Cheers mate.
I am aware that I suffer/benefit from a strong tendency to self-analysis. I consider myself very self-aware, to the point of knowing that I probably over estimate my ability in this area, so probably don’t know myself as well as I think I do. Which is about when my brain starts to trickle out of my ears.
The point being I spend a lot of time inside my own head, if not exactly admiring the view, then at least seeing the potential for expansion if we just knocked down a few walls. So when does that sort of introspection stop being useful, I wonder. I certainly think a lot of people I meet need to do a shitload more of it, and most certainly never will. But at what point does it become mere self-indulgence? I suppose it may be about quality not quantity.
A proper no holds barred bit of navel gazing can be pretty tough stuff, and produce real insight with the potential for improvement. Just wandering around with your mental veils firmly in place is probably either self-pity or narcissism. I’m pretty sure I’ve done my share of those. But mostly I go for the tough stuff. It’s much more interesting and useful, but does take a surprising amount of mental energy. Not, alas, a great calorie burner though!
If I can feel my brain spiralling down into itself and I’m not in the mood I’ll put on some music, pick up a book, or find an activity. Blogging, for example, can be a useful distraction. ;-)
Now if you’ll excuse me I have some music to listen to.
Customer comments on the country music, it’s like being at home. Explains she’s from Alberta and if I like country music I should go to Calgary. Well, says I, this going to sound a bit unlikely but I used to write for the Calgary Herald….
… Isn’t fascinating that people think it’s okay to ask, but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t find it intrusive.
Clearly the perception from either side of the counter is very different. I imagine the customers who ask think they’re just “taking an interest” and don’t realise (or care, in some cases) that it’s akin to asking a stranger if their salary is looking okay. In Britain, at least, how much do you earn is not a normal question.
It would probably be less bothersome if we were in a strong economy and people asked in a positive, encouraging manner. But nine times out of ten the question comes from some gloomy bugger who is clearly wondering how the hell you make a living.
And to push for an answer when the first enquiry is deflected, that steps over a definite line.
So please, thank you for your interest, and I understand that you may be fascinated to know how we all survive down here in circumstances so different from your own nice, safe, nine to five but if you want to get that personal , the least you can do is buy us dinner first.
p.s. While I was drafting this a friend came in and we discussed the phenomenon. Mid-chat a customer comes up to the counter and asks… *grin*
I’ve been tidying my flat. Or at least, parts of it. The whole thing is probably more of a challenge than can be faced on a single day off. But in one of the piles of paper I found the following. It’s weeks if not months old, so it doesn’t refer to anything recent, but hey, people say “I’m bored” all the time and it always confounds me. So these were my thoughts on once such random occasion…
Really? Can you
Make an origami giraffe?
Explain how a gas chromatograph works?
Find Ulan Bator on a map?
Play the piano.
Calculate the square root of Pi?
Make a soufflé?
Because if you can say no to any of those, you still have interesting things left to do in life. Get on with it.
I have no idea what the make-up of the list says about me, but if you’re bored you could try to work it out.
I’ve been reflecting this week on the human need to… what? Mark our territory? Prettify our environment? Both? More?
It started with a discussion with Facebook friends about how several campers on the site I’ve been visiting have decorated their area with coloured Christmas lights. It’s not a choice I’d make, and the conversation was understandably lighthearted and somewhat ribald, with one friend reminding me of a recent pledge not to judge since I admit to having a “favourite USB cable”, not a life choice everybody would make. Fair point.
So okay, I wouldn’t go with twinkly lights. In fact, in the short term I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go with any sort of decoration. But if I were staying longer? If I were here a month, two, a whole season?
My flat has pots outside the door. A plant stand. A bee on a stick (no really, it’s v cute). What’s the difference? Walking around the site I first found it very odd that people had chosen to decorate their temporary homes in this way. There are lights, plants in pots, little bits of fencing and other assorted markers that show this bit, this is ours, this is our space.
Are they warning others off? Reassuring themselves? Just making it look as nice, in their lights, as they can? I don’t know. There’s a lot about it I don’t understand. As I said, at first I found it odd. Then, after thinking about it for a while, and considering my bee, I started to think maybe the oddity would be to not do it.
Decorating our environment, marking our territory, these are both very normal human behaviours, or so it seems to me. I may not understand what drives such actions, but I’ve observed it often enough to form the opinion that it’s unremarkable. So perhaps what would be remarkable would be if somebody didn’t feel any need to dress their personal stage.
What would that say about them? Again, I don’t know. But I’m sure it says something. So if your neighbour doesn’t have fairy lights, or pot plants, or a bee on a stick, they’re telling you something about themselves. Now we just need to work out what. I hope it’s nothing bad…
I love this piece. It’s like they’ve reached into my brain to see what I believe about happiness and written it all down, then added one last idea just to tell me to visit Amazon more often. Thanks. This makes me very happy.
A lovely couple have just bought a Barbara Cartland novel in bright pink cover, to add to their daughter’s survival package for going to Uni. I have suggested a Justin Beiber CD from a charity shop will make an excellent addition to grace her shelves and impress her new friends. They agreed. Some parents are just ace
I just saw somebody on Twitter use the hash tag #tweetyourteenageself. I’ve no idea if this is a trending thing, or one bloke’s invention, but it got me thinking about what I’d say.
First thought was that I could point out to myself that if I made different choices, on what I raked in as an IT bod I could easily afford to have paid off a mortgage on a comfortable two or three bed house and I’d own my own place now.
Then I remembered that I’m basically shit at home ownership, and by now the roof would almost certainly leak and the windows be on the brink of falling out. Everything would need painting. And there’d be a funny smell from the drains.
Plus, of course, if I’d made sensible choices I wouldn’t be living in Cornwall. Nor would I ever have learnt to fly helicopters, been sailing from Tonga to Thailand, learnt to scuba dive in Phuket, got a gig as an F1 journalist with the Montreal Gazette, or taken up residence in the New Forest to be with a guitar-playing marine biologist. I wouldn’t have seen dolphins swimming under the Southern Cross at three a.m. or been night diving with turtles in the Red Sea. I wouldn’t have drunk a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel, followed by noodles from a street vendor that cost half as much.
I wouldn’t have slept under the stars beside the Katherine River in the Northern Territories, and I definitely wouldn’t have drunk the river water out of my hat while trying to paddle a kayak and helpless with laughter because we’d all made such a monumental cock-up of provisioning it went beyond tragedy and reached farce.
It seems unlikely I would ever have sat in the paddock at Monaco chatting to a chap called Jock Clear, thus creating a running gag that would still be keeping a bunch of us entertained so many years later. You know who you are. :-)
I probably wouldn’t have had the dubious experience of having my Dad refuse a collect call from Bali because he didn’t know what the exchange rate was. I wouldn’t have got completely rat-arsed on Grappa on an Italian dress-designer’s boat, then the next day driven a Tasmanian sheep farmer to Bangkok.
Would sensible choices have seen me living over a dive shop in Cyprus for two months, while I waited for the sea to warm up? Quitting a well-paid job on London when I had no place to go to, just because I thought the boss was a wanker? Moving to Cornwall with no job and no plan just because I fell in love with a village? Probably not. Certainly not.
So what would I tweet to my teenage self?
Keep up the good work, you’re doing fine. It’s all going to work out just how it should. :-)
I’m not sure how it counts as “stumbling upon” something, when you carry out many years’ research, conduct specific surveys to discover what’s there, and piece together thousands of bits of data to plot the results. Yep, lucky break all right.
Sleep. Wonderful stuff. Like most people I mostly get a reasonable night’s sleep, most of the time. But like most people again, there are times when I can’t sleep through stress or fretting, or because there just isn’t the time, or some bugger’s out there making a row. And I have friends who don’t fit the “most” category, for whom a decent night’s sleep is a rare treat, for a variety of reasons.
So, whilst one woman’s magic recipe isn’t necessarily another man’s solution, what do I do to try to get a bit of solid kip when it’s been lacking? Maybe it will work for you too…
Eat something. Counter intuitive? Yes, probably. But as long as it’s not anything indigestible that’s going to keep me awake yearning for peppermint tea to settle my stomach, I find a meal is better for sleeping on - I tend to feel drowsy on a bellyful anyway (the blood rush to the stomach leaves the brain lacking), so use that to my advantage. Bugger the waistline, worry about one problem at a time!
Draw the curtains. Even if you’re normally a windows open, breeze in sort of bod, you will find the extra darkness should encourage your brain to switch off.
Have a hot bath, but don’t stay in there too long. One of the main triggers for sleeping is having your body temperature drop. Should you ever decide to end it all, walking out into the snow is highly recommended for this reason, you’ll drift off in a drift - such useful information! So, make sure you leave your bath while it’s still hot and your core temp is up. I find wrapping myself in soft cosy towels and hitting the sack instantly is the way to go. That snug feeling helps me snooze, and the towels get shed somewhere along the way. If you’re more comfy in PJs, make sure they’re ready to go before you get in the bath. You don’t want to waste that precious sleepy zone post-bath dicking about looking for a clean nighty.
Put on some music, loud enough to be clearly audible, soft enough not to rock the walls. I find this gives my brain something to focus on and stops it scurrying off down worrisome lanes, circling endlessly around topics I’ve been fretting about during the day. It also means you can enjoy the music and not lie there worrying about not falling asleep. If it doesn’t work and you stay awake, the entertainment’s built in.
That’s it. Nothing new or revolutionary. For those of you struggling with chronic insomnia, or trying to sleep through constant pain, it’s going to seem pretty simplistic I expect, but it might help somebody, somewhere and for that reason it’s worth putting out there.
“Take one ounce of white karabe or amber, and one drachm of camphor reduced into a subtile powder, put them into a matrass with five ounces of spirits of wine, and put it in the sun for twelve or fourteen days in the hottest weather, after which place the matrass on hot ashes for the space of one hour, then strain it through a linen cloth, and bottle and cork it tight for use.”—Roberts’ Guide for Butlers and other Household Staff.
Things I have learnt about successful serial killing from Netflix
Subtitled: It’s August in Cornwall, indulge me.
1. Use a lot of plastic sheeting.
2. If you don’t have a pig farm, live near a swamp.
3. If you can’t move to a swamp choose random dump sites.
4. Real randomness had clusters, do not be too even.
5. Use different methods.
6. Wear a hat and a boiler suit.
7. Work for the police.
8. Be nice. Buy your workmates cake.
9. Do not have mad, staring eyes. It’s a dead giveaway.
10. Have a cool nickname, it makes you much harder to catch.
But do remember these are observations not instructions. It is not legal to kill tourists, and I accept no liability for the consequences.
The following are all based on real questions, or over-heard observations.
Do you know where the bank is?
What’s the best way to get to the harbour?
Steer West and come in on a running tide.
Why doesn’t the harbour wall go all the way round?
It used to, but one day a boat from Fowey misjudged the ramp and knocked a hole in it. We couldn’t afford to get it repaired.
How do you get money out of an ATM?
You put a card in and press some buttons.
What time’s high tide? [answer] Can it be a bit earlier, we have to leave at four?
Sure, no problem. We just need to let the fishermen know so they can bring their boats in earlier. Would about three be okay?
Is there a loo?
Where’s the Model Railway?
Everywhere. As it grew it became impossible to house it in one building, so we now each have a section in our homes. Just knock on any door.
Can you recommend a good place to eat.
Why do they let cars down here?
Dreadful, isn’t it? Every year the residents petition to get vehicles banned. We live and work here, we don’t want traffic making the place untidy, but apparently it would be bad for tourism so we have to put up with it.
Where’s the best place to get a pasty?
Arrange to be born in Cornwall. Then your grandmother will make them in her kitchen. Failing that you will probably need to buy one.
Great, thanks. What’s your bank balance?
What time do the shops open?
The Mall security guards come on duty at ten, once the cleaning crew has been through. Once they’re on shift we are able to open the individual shops. This has been coordinated to happen at precisely seventeen minutes past ten. You will hear a bell ring.
What time to the shops close?
Thirty seconds after we hear the last tourist’s wallet clang shut.
Is there a supermarket?
Yes, it’s in an underground lair. Access is by password and retinal scan. I’m sorry, I can’t tell you where the entrance is, you’re not local.
Where can I buy fishing tackle?
Well, I’d be inclined to try the fishing tackle shop, but if you’ve got a better idea don’t let me stop you.
Can I charge my mobile phone in your shop?
Of course! Do you have any laundry you’d like to leave while you’re about it?
Where can I buy a pillow?
The Lavender Pillow. Of course, they do only have one colour.
Where does the Ferry go from?
It does pick-ups around the village, including the top of School Hill and the Surgery Car Park.
How can I find out where the Surgery is?
I’m not sure. Have you considered asking somebody?
If I keep walking in this direction will I get to the sea?
Yes. But do be careful crossing the A39.
Do you do cash back?
Sure! Give me a tenner and I’m almost certain to give it back to you.
Where do you catch the bus to Pentewan?
I never do.
Do you know where any of these places are? [shows list]
Why isn’t there any water in the harbour?
It’s the gap in the wall. It used to stay here and only need topping up once a month for evaporation, then that boat from Fowey ruined it for everybody.
Do you get much flooding?
A little, but the Tena Lady products are really quite excellent. Thanks for your concern.
Is there anywhere nearby that’s like this but less tacky?
No, there used to be, but the EU regulations on plastic souvenir to tourist ratios spoiled all that, I’m afraid. Every time we get a bit more up-market and more people come, we have to import extra sparkly glow-in-the-dark lighthouse ornaments, and the cycle starts all over again.
If I lived here I think I’d get an air-rifle!
Yes, we tend to feel the same way, how perceptive of… oh, you meant the gulls. Right. Sorry.
Where can I buy a newspaper?
I’d try the newsagent. But if you’ve got a better idea… oh, and if you find some guys looking for fishing tackle, they may be able to help.
I need change for the car park.
Yes, you do! Well done. You’d be amazed how many people turn up having not thought that one through, bravo!
Have you got fifty pee for the laundrette?
Why would I need to use the laundrette?
What does “Tre” mean in Cornish names?
It’s Cornish for tree. A lot of people assume it’s more complicated than that, but Cornish lives used to be even quieter than they are now, and they often gave their trees names as a cheap, low-maintenance pet.
Where can I buy fish?
There’s a big blue building on the harbour with “Aquarium” written on it. Ask in there. As long as there aren’t too many kids about to traumatise they’re usually happy to fish something out of the tanks for you.
Is there anything to do in Mevagissey?
No. Move along. Nothing to see. These are not the ‘droids you’re looking for.
Good morning, Kim, what a beautiful sunny day here in your lovely fishing village.
Why, thank you. Yes it is a lovely place.
You’re so lucky to live here! Tell me, how does your working day start?
Well, thanks for asking. This morning I dropped into the cafe to pick up a latte and order some lunch, then I strolled round to the shop I’m in today. Along the way I stopped to say hi to a friend who runs a local gallery, then came to work. I opened the front of the shop, popped my belongings into a backroom where I hope they won’t get stolen, then I put the bag of dog shit from the front step into a sturdy paper bag and walked it around to the bins on the harbour.
Why did you do that?
Well, the bins are there for the purpose, and I didn’t like to leave it outside the shop.
No I meant why the paper bag?
Oh. I don’t really know. It just seemed slightly less disgusting that way.
Are you always that fastidious?
I know! Silly isn’t it? It’s only a bag of dog shit. Why not just leave it there? It probably looked fine, and even though it’s hot weather, it was in a plastic bag. It probably wouldn’t smell that much, or put off the customers much. I could have arranged the stock that goes out there around the bag. Maybe put one of the children’s kites over it.
It does seem like you overreacted a bit.
I was better with the plastic drinks cup.
Oh, I didn’t see it till I got back from the rubbish bin. I big clear cup with a lid and straw and some dregs in the bottom. It was the other side of the doorway from the dog shit, like those stone lions people put either side, you know? Quite an attractive layout. Maybe I should have fetched back the crap?
It would certainly make for an interesting and edgy design. Maybe a bit urban for Cornwall?
Yes, you may be right. Anyway, I accidentally crushed it under the heavy crab pot I was moving moving back to where it belongs, so the question is moot.
Maybe next week.
Oh yes, I’m sure there will be something new and exciting to try.
Well, congratulations again on living in such a beautiful place.
I think I should offer myself for psychological study. Oh, it’s not that I think I’m that fascinating or stupendously unusual, fear not. The ego is still marginally under control. Marginally.
No, it’s that apparently it’s unusual for angry people to agree to be studied, and I’d happily put my hand up to being “angry people”. According to a piece on Dean Burnett’s Guardian blog:
On the Venn-diagram of “people easily angered” and “people who willingly volunteer to let scientists poke and prod them” there’s not going to be much overlap, so opportunities for research are limited.
I imagine he’s right about that. I can also imagine that part of the problem might be that angry people don’t always know they’re angry. That I do know may reflect well on my self-awareness, badly on my self-improvement, or just say a lot about my choice of friends. But here’s the thing… I’m also extremely happy, and am equally known for being a positive, up-beat person. Just one with, if you know me that bit better, an incredibly short fuse. A lot of things annoy me. A lot. Injustice annoys me. Negativity annoys me. Bad manners, cruelty, and jokes about blondes annoy me. Frankly, I think they should annoy everybody, and people who aren’t suitably annoyed by these things annoy me.
Where people get it wrong is thinking that anger and aggression are the same thing. Just because I’ll say, in a moment of hot anger, “I’d punch his lights out” doesn’t mean I’ve ever actually hit anybody, or that they wouldn’t deck me if I tried - since I’ve never put it into practice, I’ve no idea how effective my right hook might be, but I don’t hold out much hope of being any sort of scrapper. I suppose if I’m ever physically attacked I’ll have the chance to find out, but self-defence is the only reason I can imagine for engaging in that sort of physicality. And even then, you can bet I’ll be trying to talk my way out of it first.
Now, a verbal attack and defence, and I’m your woman. Somebody’s being bullied, I’ll step in soon as you like and the sharp edge of my tongue will get a hood honing. I can swear like a trouper, too, so no need to be shy on that count. Come out with some bigoted nonsense in the pub, you might just as well light the blue touch paper and retire. And yes, it’s possible that in the heat of that moment I might say something I regret. Probably not something I don’t mean, and quite likely not something that everybody else hasn’t been thinking for years but were all too polite to say. And I might regret actually voicing it, since it can be impolitic. But you know, if I think about that it makes me just a tad angry that everybody else is happy to wind up us gobby types, and slap us on the back for saying what they were thinking, but they don’t have the courage to step up… oh hang on, I’ve digressed a tad. Mmm… that happens too when I’m angry. Darn, I hope those psychologists are paying attention at the back.
So where were we? Ah yes, the point is… mostly I’m actually perfectly happy to be angry (and most of the time I’m just perfectly happy). I think “bad shit” should make me angry, and anger creates an energy that means if there’s something to be done about the bad shit there’s a better chance I’ll get on and do it. And somebody should speak up for those in crappy situations who have had the anger beaten out of them. And it seems better to me that if somebody’s going to do that, they should be a happy person with a good life who’s going to use words not fists to fight back.
And here’s another thing… in psychology anger is just one of several states of arousal. No, stop sniggering Mr Freud, it’s not all about sex, you know? Arousal is about fight or flight, and as I’ve mentioned before I’m definitely to be found in the fight camp - though as I’ve explained more here, there’s more than one way to wage a war. So yes, a dash of anger now and again does get the heart pounding, the adrenaline flowing, and yes, these things make me feel more alive. Maybe there’s something about the wiring in my head that says anger and joy are more closely related than for most; in the same way that proponents of BDSM cross-wire on pain and pleasure. I don’t know, since I can’t see the inside of anybody else’s head so how does one judge “normal” in this matter. I know I think pain is just painful and pleasure is a salted-caramel ice-cream, but I think views on that one are more often discussed. Your anger/joy view? Same as mine? *shrug* Who knows. I think there’s a relationship between them, but *double shrug* I’m no expert.
What I do know is that I also experience joy, pleasure, passion, call it what you will - all the positive aspects of arousal (oi, Freud, I told you once already) and I do so easily and frequently - a perfect raspberry, the sight of a sailing boat out on the water, a piece of music, a million simple and complex things that give me cause to be happy every day. And I know that this too is something that not everybody gets. For many people life is grey, or hard, or a struggle. And that has little or nothing to do with material stuff and much, much more to do with how their brains work.
My brain does happy. It does angry. it does enquiring, and it does exploring. It does imagining. It does words. It does joy. It doesn’t do much remembering, and it can’t hold a bloody tune for more than a minute, dammit, but that doesn’t make me angry since I wouldn’t swap anything it does do for the privilege.
I know at least one friend who thinks that everybody in Cornwall is horribly rude to all tourists (you know who you are ;)) but really, I think most of us are incredibly tolerant and friendly given, occasionally, extreme provocation. Yes, the vast majority of holiday-makers are perfectly nice, and some are truly delightful. But once in a while…
So far this week I’ve had one person storm out when I asked them, extremely politely, if they could wait “just over there” to speak to another member of staff (they were blocking the till for other customers), one friend has had a woman declare she would no longer buy an ice-cream because she wasn’t allowed to charge her mobile phone in the kiosk’s sockets, another had a mouthful of abuse for objecting to boys playing sword-fights in her crowded gift shop, and every day we all clean spilt food and pick up dumped rubbish, empty food pots etc from our floors and shelves. But my favourite story so far is from last year when another friend in another ice-cream parlour had to explain that she really couldn’t take a card payment for a single can of drink, sorry.
The most entertaining conversations can begin in the most unlikely soil.
Chatting to Matt the Postie this morning about managers who’ve never done the job they’re managing.
"When I’m running the country, Matt, all this will change."
"When’s that going to be then?"
There followed a rapid session of brain-storming and planning that resulted in the recognition that I have a “team” (that would be Matt) and a campaign (that would be Matt again, with promotional material) and a platform (no managers to be allowed to manage any job they’ve never tried to do).
So if you see a young postman with a sandwich board, flag, and balloons tied to his postbag, delivering fliers and tying banners as he goes, make him a cup of tea and tell him I’m grateful, will you? And vote for me. Matt will thank you.
Important question. Which is the least annoying way of indicating laughter and/or amusement on the 'net, in your opinion?
The ubiquitous LOL is much loathed, lmao as previously mentioned is a pet hate, smilies are the Marmite of social networks, so what to do? I've been thinking of branching out with -larf- but somebody's bound to hate it. ;-)
Vent your pent-up hatred, praise your favourites like a prepubescent fan-girl, whatever your take - go for it!
Here are some that definitely are. Can you put names to them? Answers below, so no peeking! These are mostly actors, since a) I like actors and b) they’re the ones you might have heard of. Any giveaway character/show names are Xed out.
cricketer, documentary maker, lead singer, worldwide trend leader in hairstyles for men who look fifteen years younger than they actually are.
Dancer. Ballet, Tap and Modern
I’m nothing to be sneezed at.
Semi-Pro Astronaut, Actor, Occasional Bounty Hunter. Not necessarily in that order.
I’ve been thinking that I need a shit list. I suspect everybody should have one. It will make a handy conversational short-cut, and give friends a fabulous opportunity to wind you/me up on subjects they know will make us wince. Who wouldn’t want to do that small favour for their friends, eh?
Now, any shit list should be assumed to include poverty, homelessness, world wars, genocide and all that guff. Everybody who isn’t a sadistic dictator, a psychopath or as dumb as Paris Hilton is anti that crap, and putting it on your shit list just looks dappy. Like when you’re asked “who would you most like to be on a desert island with?” and you say “my lovely hubby” instead of “Johnny Depp with a book on tantric sex”. You’re not fooling anybody, you don’t look sweet and romantic, you just look like a sap. So, now that’s out of the way…
What would be on your shit list? What drives you gently bonkers? You never want to see it again; if it was embedded in the surface layer of the mile-deep ice encasing the devil’s lair, you’d be encountering it too soon?
Stream of consciousness, in no particular order (other than the first few triggered this blog post), here is mine. I shall feel free to add to it later. Also sooner. Probably frequently. Does anybody know the storage limit on Tumblr?
Keep Calm and… logos.
Facebook pictures with trite sayings on.
Little yappy dogs.
Flavoured vodka drinks in bottles.
LMAO <- why just this one? No idea!
Teenage boys’ arse-drooping trousers.
Replica football shirts.
Jeffrey Archer books.
The entire Twilight franchise
Harp music. All of it.
Those stupid bloody Meercats.
speaking of which... Simples!
Home-made cards with embellishments and stamping.
Jacqui Lawson e-cards (sorry, Jane, I had to tell you some time! ;)
Clowns (this should probably come under genocide etc)
Cold cooked peas
Bar soap (ooh, stream of consciousness)
Leopard skin print
I should probably stop for a while and think happy thoughts. Maybe something nice starting “keep calm…” and featuring meercats.
“How come no matter how long since you’ve seen the family, nor how much distance you put between you they can always push the buttons? Answer: because they installed them.”—Jack Taylor: The Guards, written by Tom Collins.
“On his first day at the farmhouse, Gef remained uncharacteristically quiet, and it wasn’t until midnight, when McDonald was leaving for his hotel, that he heard that most traditional of Manx greetings, with the mongoose screaming, “Who is that bloody man?”—Paranormality, Richard Wiseman.
How do you find service staff in this country? Shop assistants, waiters, the long arm of the law? Do you find them pleasant and helpful, or surly and inattentive? If the former, bravo, you’re probably treating the people you deal with in a manner that generates the kind of response we all, surely, would prefer to have in any such transaction. But if you’re seeing more of the latter you might want to think about the climate you’re creating in your immediate vicinity.
Humans are social beasts. It’s not just that we respond in an immediate situation in proportion to the behaviour of those around us, but our entire personality is influenced by the way our fellows see us and treat us. For some reason in this country we have never quite managed to take the “servant” out of “service”. Many if not all of the people-facing service industry roles are seen as low status; they are assumed to be a job-of-last-resort.
Much of our behaviour is rooted in our self-esteem. Our self-esteem is rooted in our perception of how we are viewed by others. If people treat us with respect and affection, particularly with unconditional affection that ignores or at least tolerates our lapses, we come to believe we deserve that treatment and our view of ourselves blossoms. As our self-esteem grows our relationships improve, the face we present to the world develops in positive ways and those around us respond to that with more positive reinforcement, a cycle of behaviour that is good for all concerned.
It is hardly surprising then that the converse is also true. Feed into a negative spiral and nobody wins. Treat your waiter with disdain and spit in your soup may be the least of your problems. In your small way you may be contributing to an environment of dismal service, depressed service staff and a spiralling fall into an ever greyer world where every encounter is a miserable chore to be endured.
So smile at your service staff, make eye contact, tell them when they get right, show them value. In the end we all win.
Last night I was treated to yet another variation on the people who use Facebook and Twitter are sad losers who should get a life rant. this came with a get a job variation, and an all that telling strangers everything is disgusting strand. No, really, get a job. Apparently the four or five I already have along with the three (or is it four?) voluntary roles are insufficient to qualify as an actual life.
So, my strange friends, stop what you’re doing immediately and go and do something less disgusting that a technophobic pensioner would approve of, will you?
Me, I’ve just ordered my shopping and arranged to have it delivered to my home next week, all from the comfort of the only warm place in my flat today, under the duvet! But hey, if using a pen and paper then driving to spend two hours stomping round Asda makes you a better person, fill your boots.
Don’t get me wrong, these are decent people, just ill-informed on this subject and buying the popular misconception. There’s a lot of it about!
They did have the decency to feed me a suitable response just moments later. “Anybody who watches soaps would know that.” Ah, soaps… Let me tell you what I think of your life choice there, and yes I have actually seen the thing I am commenting on.
With Remembrance Day approaching, seems right to have had a long chat with a local chap recalling marching past the WW1 war graves in France as he went to battle in WW2. Also told stories of his Dad who was at the first battle of Ypres, still in tropical kit fresh off the transport from China. He shot a German officer who was directing an attack - the officer saluted him as he fell.
The question has just been posed on a forum I use. In fact they included Realist, and “Me” - a jokey reference to their own ambivalence about where they fit in the spectrum.
In the past I’ve always said optimist, but it struck me that wasn’t really quite right this morning. There’s a degree of “it’ll be fine” about optimism that isn’t really me. It implies nothing needs to be done for it to work out fine, but that’s not what I’m about. I think you need to do your best to ensure it does, and not beat yourself up if it doesn’t work. So optimism mixed with fatalism maybe? No, that still doesn’t feel right (but is probably closer than the other options). Then it struck me… so my answer was:
"I don’t know if I’ve just invented a new name, or if this is already in use, but I’m a positivist. I strongly believe that your own attitude affects how your life goes. I know that focusing on the positive helps you enjoy your life more, and that feeds back into your routine making more positive things happen. Negativity, on the other hand, is a downward spiral into the pit. Dwelling on the bad stuff just reinforces it. Luckily, so does dwelling on the good stuff. "
My friend Rachael oftens tells stories about the difficulties that confront her and her partner that I would otherwise probably never think about and never experience. Being a witty, intelligent girl she frequently does so with verve and good humour. She often makes me laugh, while simultaneously making me bloody furious at the inanities and indignities she’s had to confront to achieve something perfectly simple that most of us would take in our stride. Oh, didn’t I say? Rachael and her boyfriend are both registered blind. As far as I can see it doesn’t define either of them, but it does shape how a lot of what happens to them goes…
Take today’s little gem. Well, no, you wouldn’t take it, and neither did they, but some little tick of a meter reader thought they should. Said tick arrived to read the meter unannounced, with no form of ID that a visually impaired person can use, and became instantly and incandescently abusive when they didn’t just let him in.
Now think about this…
If a guy came to your door, he was six foot six, covered in scars and prison tattoos and had an axe over one shoulder and a swag bag over the other, would you let him in? Even if he said he was there to read the meter? Okay, we’ll assume that was a no. Now… if you couldn’t see the guy at all and didn’t know if he was six foot etc or not, why - in the name of all that’s Holy - should you be expected to just take his word for it?
Since the utility company had used this same reader at a previous address of hers and Rachael recognised the guy from his voice and behaviour (well, yes, I think I’d recall a stroppy bastard sticking his boot in the door to try to force access too, and I’m not a musician with an ear for a voice), she knows perfectly well that both company and tick have had this situation explained to them before. You want access, you make an appointment and you come armed with a pre-arranged password. That’s basic security, and precisely how it’s supposed to work. There’s a procedure. Use it.
Would the tick get in an equal strop (I haven’t bothered to describe in details the actions and language, you can imagine it perfectly well) if he turned up at *my* door without any identification and I refused him access? I suspect not, I suspect he’d realise he’d been a bit of a twit to leave his ID card at home and would be in trouble with his employer if he tried to force it.
So why does an unsighted person deserve less consideration? Why is it okay to be gratuitously unpleasant to somebody who can’t see you? I think I know at least part of the answer to that - it’s in the nature of the bully to pick on anybody they *think* is weaker, and that sort of arse would see any form of disability as a weakness. Of course, when they read him his fortune he soon scurried away with his tail between his legs, but it probably came as a it of a shock to discover that being blind doesn’t mean being stupid, or weak, or gullible. I hope it will come as an even greater shock to discover it doesn’t mean they can’t report your sorry arse to your employer.
So, now it’s over to Seimens to see if they can explain to this guy in words of no more than one syllable why he needs to adjust his attitude. And not just this one tick I suspect - from some of the comments that have been made over this tale I’m guessing there’s an endemic problem here. Utility companies and your agents take note, your customers all deserve the same level of service and consideration, and if that means going an extra mile for those who need it, you should bloody well be doing it. Without fuss. Without abuse. Without question.
“If Strictly was just about the dancing I’d probably watch some of it. But I loathe Brucie, who they apparently have to wheel on and prop against some tolerant blonde woman who must also operate the strings in his back. And the ridiculous posturing of a bunch of “who the fuck are they?” judges all going for Emmies as they over-reach themselves in attempting a TV “persona”. If it was just about a bunch of people learning to dance from scratch and getting points and somebody becoming champ… it would be good TV. Wouldn’t need the celebs, but wouldn’t offend me if they were there - as long as we didn’t need hours of back-story. We’ve reached a point of lowest common demoninator where every reality TV show is exactly the same - 99% drama, posturing, back-story and sobbing and 1% activity.”—Me, on Facebook, in a conversation about Strictly Come Dancing.
Why do so many people think *their* sense of humour is the only valid one, and if you don’t find what they say amusing it can only be because you have no sense of humour at all? It always puzzles me. I know my own SoH oscillates between slightly high-brow and witty, and completely low-brow and scatological and doesn’t cover much ground between the two*. 99% of “jokes” sent by text or email and pretty much every one of those “this is so funny” FB pictures leave me completely cold. But I accept that others think they’re hilarious and may even really piss themselves and roll on the floor at their extreme hilarity, unhygienic and uncomfortable as that sounds.
As far as possible I stop friends sending me “funny” texts and pictures (especially those with openly viewable address lists a mile long!) but with people one knows less well it’s not always possible to think of a tactful message.
Perhaps I need an amusingly captioned picture that I can send back, opting out of all such nonsense.
Hmmm… that might work, actually! Excuse me, I need to go and doodle…
* With a large side-serving of completely surreal. Love a bit of surrealism. :o)