The Right Wrong Right Side Of The Road

Which side of the road do you drive on where you live? if you’re in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Siam, South India, North India, East North India, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Japan, you drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are elsewhere you drive on the right.

The chief need, whether on left or right, is to do it well. With dignity. With foresight. With accuracy. All concepts that I am desperate to introduce to the residents of our street.

We are a mixed lot here in Dreyer Way, and generally benefit from it. All races, all nationalities, all ages. We do not hold wild parties and we keep our lawns mowed. We do not break into each other’s houses. We pick up litter after bin night. But we also do not know how to park in the street to save our lives. If we do not learn, some of us will risk losing them.

The convention in Western Australia – at one time enforced by the police – was that you had to park your car as close to the curb as practicable. It had to be in a place that did not obstruct other road users or the driveways and pathways that served the street. The car had to be parked on the left of the street. This seems to have changed.

On days that see tradesmen working in the street – house repairers or lawn mowing men, etc. there is no problem – they follow the old rules and you can navigate around them as you go along. They are never loud or unruly and do not speed in the street. They may be different when they get out on the open highway, but at least they are exemplary here. The residents, however, have taken to parking every which way on both sides of the street – even when their own driveways are unoccupied. Their travelling guests follow suit, and often will stop opposite a car that is properly parked on the left hand side. This narrows the street’s passageway to door-wrenching size.

Please note that our house is base to four cars – Two big ones, one medium-sized sporter, and my little Suzuki. We park on our own drive and lawn and do not encumber the rest of the way.

The bottleneck is next door, and I am starting to think that there might have to be some creative thinking to solve it. I do not want to make enemies of the neighbours but I also do not want be barricaded into my yard. It might be too much to hope that a Sherman tank with a mine plow will come down the street and shove the Mazdas aside, but I may have to resort to driving over the next door’s council nature strip to bypass their visitor’s bus. Perhaps the council garbage truck will loosen their doors a little at about 5:00 AM. I’ll listen out…

Note: Apparently they also drive on the left side of the road in England, North England, West England, and Even Further West England. I’m glad they have followed our lead.

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Holding Facebook’s Beer

I was mildly amused when a Facebook game came by asking me to score points for admitting to foolish/sad/criminal behaviour in my past. And making it public to the entire planet. I mean, how could one resist the temptation to fill in the little chinks in the information brick wall. I’m just a little surprised they didn’t include a section that asked for sexual fantasies and credit card numbers…

Well, here at the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia we feel that this sort of blatant attempt at coercion is all very well, but should not be done on an amateur basis. If you are going to ask people to condemn themselves publicly, you need to give them more tempting chances. If they’re going down the sewer, make it a big one.

To this end, we have devised the following quiz for social media. There are no points scored, unless you count the knowing looks that people will give you at your next party.

Have you ever…

a. Shot a police cruiser in the grill work with a 17 pounder anti-tank gun from a camouflaged position?

b. Flayed an Albigensian heretic?

c. Written a song about your feelings and then played it to people at a party, accompanying yourself on guitar? All 15 verses?

d. Served week-old warm runny egg salad sandwiches from a service station cabinet to people at a church social?

e. Counterfeited a draft card to allow your underage classmates to buy beer at the local liquor store? Then phoned ahead to alert the local police?

f. Removed a ladder from an attic access hatch while someone was up there and then gone quietly home and had a good dinner?

g. Switched tops on the spray-paint cans in the local Bunnings store cabinet?

h. Put salt in the plaster mix of someone who is trying to invest a casting?

i. Invited a religious caller in to tell you their entire story by using an accent rich in unidentifiably foreign sounds, mixed with blatant grammatical error –  and then insisted that they sit down and drink toasts to your country? Used water tumblers full of hard liquor and cooking oil?

j. If they lasted the course, showed them the Albigensian skin…?

 

The Curse Of the Graphic Memory And The Art Library

People often use the cliché that what has been seen cannot be unseen. Like all clichés this it true, trite, and trash at the same time. Lots of things once seen are never seen again…and the effort to find them uses up whole afternoons.

Some people search for lost keys, sunglasses, and such. They go through all the conventional search patterns, from methodical to frantic, and most times the offending object eventually does turn up.

I search for images that have been seen in art books, catalogues, monographs, etc. The field of endeavour is constrained – my own library – and the books in it very rarely go anywhere. But I suspect the wretched things of passing the images to and fro between themselves to subvert me. I go looking for a perfectly remembered picture in the most logical book there may be – a catalogue or biography of the artist – and it is not there.

In the past I have then gone to the next most logical place and then the next, but I’ve finally come to realise that this is fruitless – the pictures have flitted and I might as well just start at the A section and look at every page. No sense trying to second-guess it. The sensuous nude is as likely to be on page 567 of a book on compound steam engines as it is in the pin-up magazine.

I’m sure there is a digital solution to this all…some type of sorting and cross-referencing  program that lets on talk into a tiny microphone and get the exact thing desired instantly. This must be possible – it works when you want a hamburger sandwich and some french-fried potatoes.

Perhaps I need to hire a minimum-wage librarian. Or buy a better-quality brain.

 

Old Coot On The Road

Old Coot here. How ya going?

I’m the maddening character in the little car at the front of the traffic queue going very slightly less than the sign-posted speed limit. The one in the hat with both hands on the wheel. If you’re polite to me I’ll be in the left-hand lane for most of the journey.

Note: I write from Perth, in Western Australia, where the left-hand lane is the curb-side slow lane. The middle and right-hand lanes are for the people who wish to go faster and I wouldn’t dream of interfering with them as they do.

My little car is bright hi-vis green so that you can see it and dodge round it when you are racing toward your next amphetamine delivery. Don’t worry about me racing you for it…I hate to wear rubber off the tyres needlessly. And there is no need to flip fingers or scream obscenities out of the windows. I am perfectly willing to regard you as obscene under any circumstances.

No good looming up behind me to terrify me. I’ve worked retail for years – I can stand a looming that would crush a battlecruiser. I won’t speed up at all for tyrants, whether they are at a counter or a steering wheel. Being retired, I rarely need to get anywhere on my own time, let alone anyone else’s. And I like to use the exercise of driving to give me time to think. Time to think of my Super-Power…Old Coot Super Power.

Old Coots have been here before – sometimes here was better before, and sometimes it was worse – we have a comparison to go by. If it is worse now we are prepared to do something to make it better, and if it is better now we are prepared to take the time to be grateful.

We have seen better people than you do worse things, and as we are still here driving, we know how to cope with it. As conceited as you may want to be, you are not our worst nightmare. In fact a lot of us have taken up the nightmare business ourselves and we know how to do a lot with very small resources. And we are always looking for something to fill the day in between the morning radio serial and the cocktail hour.

Old Coots know that one day it is all going to end. And we’ve generally racked up enough time already to free us from regret if the one day turns out to be next Tuesday. Threatening us may seem all gangsta until you find out that we don’t care – and the man who doesn’t care is a floating sea mine with one bent horn. Steer clear.

Old Coots also can be very kind. We will change tyres for the helpless, guide the lost, and provide lunch for anyone. There is a price – we will talk while we do it. And the topic may not be apposite to the problem at hand. Don’t feel that you can ignore us – there will be a quiz later, and half your year’s marks will depend upon it.

Old Coots will rarely cuss you out, and if they do the terms they use will most likely sound quaint. They’re not. If an Old Coot calls you cowardly son of a bitch, he means it, and you are. Old Coots operate on simpler vocabularies.

If an Old Coot thanks you or praises you they also mean that sincerely.

 

Civility And How To Avoid It- Part 1

With the rise of civil behaviour and good manners in the last few years – prompted in large part by the election of Mr. Donald Trump to the American Presidency – there has been an increasing feeling of unease in the backstabbing community. The Guild hopes to be able to reassure members and the general public and to set us all back on the proper pathway. Because everything off the pathway is strewn with mines.

Let’s start by making sure that people know what civility actually is – it is no good starting at phantoms and then letting real dangers slip in the door.

Civility is adult behaviour of considerate men and women who take care to treat others with respect and who do not cause unnecessary suffering. It is related to politeness and kindness, as wens are related to furuncles and boils, and it is equally welcome. Civility is the cement of societies…a thought that may comfort some until they realise that cement is also used to weight bodies that will be dumped in the harbour.

Civility may also be defined as a social pavise that allows one to get within easy crossbow-shot of the unsuspecting. As such, it is not that bad. You can paint soothing mental pictures on the front of it to make people think that a work of art is creeping up on them. Then, when they have been lulled into an aesthetic sense of safety you pop up and let one loose at them. If you do it in a completely calm and unemotional voice they may not even believe it was you. Quietly crouch under the protection as you wind your windlass and prepare for a second shot.

It’s not likely that you’ll get a third one off undetected, so be prepared to creep away. In some cases it is wise to creep as fast as your feet will carry you.

It has often been said that it costs nothing to be civil. True, and in many cases the behaviour is worth every penny you pay… In the case of Backstabbers Guild members we would advise a more commercial approach – be as polite as you need to be for as long as you need to be. Once your object has been achieved you can stop the pretence and go back to normal.  If you do it unobtrusively the memory of your kindness will continue far after you have resumed being cruel.

Remember that Mary Poppins – a Backstabber if ever there was one – said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. She was, of course, speaking before the current research into diabetes, obesity, and social virtue damned the sugar industry. And she was likely on the payroll of CSR. But she was right – you can sweeten vitriol, paraquat, and curare quite effectively if there are no hypodermic darts available. We advise that you never lick the spoon.

Part 2 will detail civility in different civilisations, though we have no data for Tasmania or Newfoundland as they are not civilisations

 

Hold My Beer

Please excuse me for using what is rapidly becoming a cliché meme, but I wanted to get this one in before the Thought Police arrive and load me into the van.

It is entirely possible to live your life without offending anyone. Just ask a mollusc. Hardly any bivalves sitting on the floor of the sea receive nasty messages on Facebook. Few of them are called racist or phobic. They live their lives in harmony with…gravel and weeds. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

Let’s be honest here ( And in saying that, I realise that I must apologise to all the liars out there. Sorry Mr Nixon…) we are all going to offend someone, somewhere, at some time. We cannot pass our lives without engendering bad feelings in others. In my own case, I have started in on the near relatives and am working outwards…

As we are bound to do it, we might as well do it early, do it thoroughly, and then be done with it. In this we are fortunate – there are groups of people in general society who wish to take umbrage at everything. If we can connect with them, supply a known quantity of offense and receive a measured amount of outrage, we can then all take Friday afternoon off and go to the pub. ( Minus the WCTU contingent, of course…)

To this end the BGA is going to start a register that will connect potential unwitting oppressors with people who would like to claim to be victims. Abuse/outrage ratios can be agreed to beforehand and arrangements made for confrontation at times that will be mutually convenient. With proper planning we can hire coffee vans and porta-loos as well as crowds.

Currently we are reviewing the public statuary of Australia to see if there are any examples that can be torn down and carted away to satisfy some portion of the populace. As yet, the only complaints have been about abstract works of art put up outside council premises and it would appear that the demands for their removal ( on grounds of the price tag ) have come from the ratepayers. I think there will need to be a Royal Commission on this and that means I get a white Toyota and a fact-finding mission to Biarritz.

Beauty!

 

The Mobile Phone As An Aid To Backstabbers Guild Activities

Up until the advent of the small mobile phone, recording embarrassing conversations for later use by the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia was a complex task. Tape recorders – at first the reel-to-reel style and later the cassette type – were employed to gather marketable admissions and defamatory statements but it meant that you had to set things up quite a bit in advance.

Cafe and bar meetings were pretty much out, as the necessary collusion with the owners of the premises was an expensive thing to purchase. And you had to be there hours beforehand to set up microphones and a recording room. It was a bit easier if you could lure your victim to a prepared apartment, but it still meant having an operative sitting there with headphones on listening to all that went on. Some of the BGA monitors were fine, but some got sloppy about it all. Worst of all were the ones who got allergies – it was impossible to do any serious blackmail in spring as they would sneeze at the worst possible moment.

All that has changed with the mobile phone. It need not be the latest iPhone 8 or any other sophisticated device – they all have a voice recorder in them. You just scroll though the menu, choose the appropriate app and press the red record button. The microphone gain is somewhat automatic and there is enough battery in there to go for hours. And generally it does not make any noise as it works – vital if it is concealed inside a pillow or under the bed.

There have been a number of challenges put forward as to the legal use of information gathered by these means – some sort of footling sentiment about warning the person that they were being recorded. This, of course, is nothing but naive humour to the BGA. We do not record anything for training purposes…unless you count pushing people onto the rails on the Mandurah line as training them. We record to despoil, dismay, and damage, and I am proud to say that the Guild does a workmanlike job whenever we bend our minds to it. If we decide that we are going to make you pay for your sins, you will pay the correct market price and we are professional enough to issue a receipt.

Note: Current mobile phone technology is not really effective in providing full stereophonic or wrap-around sound recording from the small devices. If you are aiming for a theatre-filling experience you still need to book our professional crew. It will all depend upon the depth of your wallet and your sense of malice.