Body Language

Just like the spoken or written word, there is a definite grammar and vocabulary for body language. And the people who are fluent in it also realise that there are several languages to master:

a. Body English

The use of position and gestures to express thoughts, emotions, and questions without speaking. The simplest gestures like expressing disdain by sneering or lifting the nose are crude – they get a little more refined when it comes to questioning with a single lifted eyebrow or surprise with both going up.

We all do these things instinctively. The only thing we ever do with conscious effort is suppress them. We can extend it further down with shrugs, hunches, or vulgar gestures. The well-bred English person can hide these until you cannot really tell what they are thinking. In many cases neither can they.

b. Body Italian

This is like Body English but at about 450% and every finger and joint in motion. The English endeavour to suppress vulgarity – Body Italian is ALL vulgarity, and ever so much more effective thereby.

If Body English is the sound of a whisper, Body Italian is the sound of an A.C. Milan announcer with a winning goal.

c. Body German

Body German is all about stiffness. Not the English stiffness of the drawing room – the Teutonic stiffness of a parade ground. Hands can be snapped to the sides and heels can be clicked to express either command or obedience. A mere correction of posture can say more than the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ever did

And watch for the short, formal bow. It can express many things, but few of them are warm. Of the three body languages, this one is best suited to a Covid-ridden world.

Hoards For The Hordes

I shall no mention toilet paper in this essay. It is a subject I put behind me.

I have been a hoarder in my time. The objects I collected were books, large format cameras, and model airplanes. I say were, but in two cases, the process is still going on – the large format cameras have long been disposed of to fund digital equipment. that is a story for my photographic column, so go there and lurk…

The concept of the hoard is actually complex. The computer’s dictionary defines it as a stock of valuable objects that are hidden away. This is partially true for the model airplanes but not at all for the books. I have them prominently on shelves and dive into them all the time. I lend them out and sometimes they are lent on or purloined by those who have received them. They are a resource, but a fluid one.

The value of both these forms of collectible is possibly something that you could calculate, but I’ll bet any figure you set on them would be wrong. Goods are only worth what people will pay for them and my experience of people who get secondhand books or plastic models is that they try to pay mere pittances. So it is not a hoard of potential gold that I hold. It is a source of pleasure.

And that probably cancels the name ” hoard ” and the negative connotations. No one buys and I do not sell. I am in no different position than a state art gallery that exhibits for pleasure and edification. Of course they have boards and accountants that probably slaver and gobble over the rise in price of whatever they hang, but they rarely sell to anyone else.

 

 

 

Varnish Or Tarnish – A BGA Guide To The Reputation

Your reputation is the opinions or beliefs about you that other people hold.

These are not concrete things, unless you are the head of Holcim. They are someone else’s assessment of you, and can be coloured, changed, influenced, or bought. A wise Guild member knows how to manipulate a reputation from both ends – clean and dirty.

If you have a spotless reputation amongst the respectable people of the town – if you have never been detected in any questionable activity or associated with any unfortunate outcome…congratulations. You have a valuable trading asset. You can spin this carefully to generate a steady income, and if you are not greedy, the lustre of it will only increase as time goes by. Everyone loves a winner, even when he tramples them into the dirt.

If your reputation is spotty – or rather if it is markedly different amongst separate groups of people – you need to step more carefully. You are past the point of being the stainless banner that can float on high. But you can still be Old Glory to selected people. If the people who you wish to respect you are important or rich or good looking, do all you can to preserve their good opinion.

If you are admired by the demimonde or worse, you can also benefit, but remember that they do not have as many assets that you can acquire. Keep their friendship only insofar as they can do good for you – once they prove to be worthless, inform on them to the police. If you can derive no reward even from this, introduce them to noted religious and cultural figures and retire discreetly. You never know when they’ll prove amusing.

If you have what could only be described as a rotten reputation – if no-one has a good word for you, no matter how low they themselves are on the social ladder, rejoice. From here on in you can do no wrong.

Of course, all you do is wrong – that’s what reputation and opinion trade upon; judging you guilty for every word that you utter and every silence you hold. I mean you can do no new wrong. So there is no need to judge yourself at all.

Do what you like. If it is horrible, it is only what was expected. If it is charming, kindly, and good, you are also deeply wrong…but your critics can take no notice of it for fear of having to backtrack. You can make someone happy and the critics will feel worse than before.

It’s worth being nice, just to spite ’em.

The Trolling Net

I check my net every week to see if I have caught my troll. Some weeks are disappointing but some are a bonanza if he snaps at the bait. I’ve gotten three bites a week in the high season.

You generally hear only bad things about trolls, but that is if they are only popping up on social media and writing irksome things to upset people. Of course that is what they always do, but you can convert the energy they put into nastiness to your own purposes.

Mine is advertising for a shop. I write three weekly columns for it with news of the goods and services that they sell. I get to put in humour as well and the occasional flight of fancy.

[Aside} Never stand under a Fancy when they are flying, particularly if they have had a greasy meal. You’ll never get the stains out.

Well, my troll reads the columns religiously – possibly between human sacrifice days. He erupts in a comment whenever some particular statement attracts his combative nature. The comment can come back as a return to the dashboard – which is an internal thing and not so useful – or it can be splashed on the Facebook page that repeats the column. That’s pay dirt.

You see, I get to see the figures for the readership hits on the main column and they spike whenever Trolly bleats. More people read the column, looking for the controversy, and more people then go on to browse the rest of the store’s website. This is a store that wants on-line trade and every time someone wanders down their electronic aisle it’s money in the bank.

I must confess, I have written a few columns in such a way as to provoke Trolly for just this purpose. Not many, but every so often…

He may be a nasty piece of work at home – I don’t know. He may be a sweetie, and the social star of his street. I just hope for his continued good health and bad digestion – he is the best straight man I have, troll or not.

Adapted From The Novel Of A Different Name

With an entirely new plot. And characters that the original author would have been ashamed to think up. Now brought to you on any screen that will take it by an actor who cannot get hired by anyone else other than himself.

If you thought that ” singer-songwriter ” were the most frightening words in the English language, let me horrify you further.

” actor-director “.

Or worse…

” actor-director-producer “…with their own studio and the backing of a semi-religious organisation. Let us hope the film is about the making of sausages because with a business and artistic model like this one can certainly expect the wurst.

I am accustomed to seeing real writers lured to Holly, Dolly, or Bollywood to churn for the studios. Churn out novels, scripts, re-writes, butter, stomachs…whatever. They have long wailed their piteous complaints about it as they pocketed the cash and we’ve seen some reasonable novels and a funny movie made about it. But so far we haven’t an actor-director-producer-studio combination with the nerve to admit their sins that clearly. It needs another Spinal Tap fake doco to put the put the wunderkindern and wunderaltern in real perspective.

Or at least CGI them smooth…

 

” I Obey A Higher Law…”

When anyone starts telling you this it’s a signal to keep saying ” Nice Doggie” while feeling behind you for a rock.

The ” Higher Law ” is something they have thought up to circumvent the lower ones – the ones used by the police and magistrates. The ones that start out with written state and federal statutes. Occasionally they will try to attach this to some phrase that you have heard; Magna Carta, a constitution, or some pronouncement by a cult out of California, Montreal or Switzerland.

The ” Higher Laws ” or HL’s for short, will be adjusted to whatever they want to get away with but there will be some features in common:

a. They will be based upon the authority of someone who has a vaguely biblical name – or a markedly Asian one. They will have started the cult and are reaping the benefits of the sale of the books ( $ 39.50 each ) and sacred blessed holy vibrational eco-friendly piece of paper or plastic bangle.

b. The cult will be making a motza and the cult leader will have a numbered account in Zurich.

c. As well as money… sex, food, and self hypnotism will be involved. Of all these, the money is the most important  – it is what the HL’s are meant to generate. Make no mistake – even if the HL’s promise that all will be wealthy, the flow of money is always bound for the Alps.

e. The HL’s, cult, and leader will last for only so long – then either explode into factional fighting or implode into murder. The Swiss bankers will carefully monitor the account and respond to whoever can quote the number. There will be a fee for that, stated clearly on the outside of the bank.

I’ll Tell You A Secret

But I won’t realise I’m doing it.

Just follow my posts on Facebook that ” share ” other messages. I will post them thinking I am telling you a great deal about the state of the world. In reality I’ll be telling you a great deal about the state of me.

I may not actually be a great deal…or even in a great state. But I will have provided either enticement or warning by re-posting whatever has come lately to my attention. You can agree with me, in which case you enter into the Blessed Lands Of Joy…or you can disagree with me, in which case I get to damn and blast you. To be honest, I prefer the latter to the former as it gives me more opportunity to vent my spleen. You can build up a lot of pressure in a spleen these days and any opportunity to release it is welcome.

Of course, things may change. I may become happier. I might find love, or at least sex. I might find $ 20 in an old coat pocket. I might lose 10 kilos and fit into my jeans. In the event of any of these, I will start to share happier memes and I expect you to like them just as much as you did the nasty ones.

Otherwise there will be trouble. I many not know where you live, but I do know where you socially post.

I Hope To Interest Science

I hope to be of interest to science. Not in the path lab specimen jar sort of way, but as an interesting study in psychology. The problem that I have right now is deciding whether I wish to be a shining example or a horrible result.

Good has its attractions. You spend less time in court or on the gallows and history is kind to you. Of course, if you are skilled at doctoring history in the first place you can pretty much please yourself what you do in your spare time.

Evil is a difficult thing to present to others – they always seem so judgemental when you are a mass murderer or sell fat-free grills on the Shopping Channel. The old excuse of being mis-understood has largely gone by the board…when you explain yourself it all sounds so much worse. Best to just destroy civilisation and keep silent about it.

Science has gotten a bad rap lately with the anti-vaccination zealots and the electronic virus conspirators. Even proving mathematical formulae can lead to you being stoned in the marketplace. Don’t mention the sun or the planets…

But I still hope to be given my own place in the species charts when they re-do the scientific classification of the world. I cannot say whether it would be better to be an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral, but whichever I end up being I hope to have a cool-sounding scientific name. One that people can spell correctly.

Re Tales – Part Eight – Essential Or Luxury?

Which to sell – essential goods or luxury ones?

Aye, there’s the rub – and it’s either with a velvet glove or a bastard file. You choose which division of commerce you think will be likeliest to pay and go with that. If you are right you  rake in the cash and if you are wrong you rake leaves in the park.

Essential items are food, water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and security. Thus we see sellers of prepackaged truffles, designer water, silk underwear, bespoke serviced appartments, day facelift spas, and bouncers doing very well indeed.

Luxury items are every blessed thing else. And not every venture selling these succeeds. However, when they do take off – the camera shop or the hobby shop come to mind – the sky is the limit. People will stint themselves of luxuries to buy essentials but that is called skimping and saving pennies – when it is the other way it works with hundreds and thousand of dollars. The trick of retailing is to be where the money ends up – not where it starts.

Re Tales – Part Seven – The Sale

Every shop has a sale some time. Not the regular sales over the counter of everyday commerce – a SALE that involves vast quantities – of many different things:

a. Time. Even a small impromptu sale that the owner thinks up the last minute before going on holiday involves days and hours of preparation, conduct, and accounting. Fortunately they are on holiday and have left their phone at home. The staff will cope…

b. Advertising. No good trying to get more customers in the door if they do not know where the door is or why they might want to come in. So the retailer spends money with the newspapers, phone book company, on-line IT experts ( the ones that are out of the asylum that week ) and leaflet distributors. The richer retailers use radio and television to blow the trumpet – the more frugal ones just buy trumpets and blow them themselves. 3:00 AM in the car park of the shopping centre is a trying time…

c. Preparation. Re-tagging all the sale stock is a pain. Particularly if you need to re-re-tag it after it hasn’t sold. And you need to be accurate in your pricing. ” Whatever ” is not a price tag that will make a profit for the shop.

Beware of customers who shift full-price stock into the sales bins and then magically ” find ” it and rush to the till. They will then demand to have it for an imaginary price, quoting God and Magna Carta as justification. It is best to have a short club handy.

d. Staff. No-one can stand sales pressure on their own so the wise manager will arrange for extra staff to be present. They may be rostered in on a schedule or just thrown in willy-nilly as the fatalities occur. Warn them that normal meal, break and toilet amenities are suspended for the sale period – if necessary quote Magna Carta. With a bit of luck this regime will seem natural and can be extended to the rest of the year.

e. Old unsalable stock. This is the core of the sale – after all, if it all went out regularly, there would be no need for all the other extra work. Old unsalable stock may be perfectly good, but so far no-one outside of the store’s buyer and the wholesaler have ever thought so. Now is the time to convince others by lowering the price.

Make no mistake about it. People will spend money and buy anything if they think it is a screaming bargain. Discount death and give vouchers for subsequent deaths and people will line up to pay. This is the principle of a great many school holiday motion picture series.

If you have no junk to sell, contact the wholesalers and ask them to take you out to a long lunch and get you drunk. You’ll eventually wake up with loose clothing and a warehouse full of broken cartons of stock from 2003.

f. Accountancy. No matter what you get for the schmatta, you’ll still have to do the paperwork to write it off. A successful sale pays for the accountant’s time – really successful ones are where you trade old stock to the accountant instead of a fee.