A Civil Tongue In Your Head

We’re meant to keep one of these – though the old saying doesn’t specify whether it should be yours or someone else’s. I’ve seen French art films…

The phrase is particularly interesting to me because I’ve encountered an occasion where someone didn’t. Of course this is not new in the world – cursing, expletives, vulgar language, and threats are the small change of conversation in many societies. Our print and internet media positively encourage it. It can also be the common coin for some of the young, but at my age I am not in the market for this sort of investment.

The fact that it occurred in a work situation has made it stand out a little more – preventing workplace harassment of co-workers, contractors, or volunteers is actually covered by OHS regulations as well as by anti-bullying legislation. It will remain to be seen whether the occurrence was just an uncharacteristic outburst or the opening barrage of a campaign.

For the sake of the business, and the owners, I hope it is the former rather than the latter. If so, it can be forgiven and nothing more need be said. If the latter, we’ll have to see if law really does have teeth.

Advertisements

” Dinner is Served “

a. ” I don’t eat that “.

Ah. I’m terribly sorry. I did not know. I’m afraid I neglected to prepare an alternative. And have no other food. It would be terribly rude of me to sit here in front of you and eat while you do not. I’ll just clear the plates away and we can go on to a nice discussion about Kierkegaard or BREXIT. May I get you a cracker and a glass of water?

b. ” I don’t want to eat that “.

Ah. Well, you won’t object if I do? Good. could you pass the oyster sauce, there’s a good fellow…

c. ” I’m afraid we can’t eat that “.

Ah. I know the problem. We’re restricted in our tribe as well. May I get you some fruit? Some tea?

d. ” I’m afraid I’m not allowed to eat “.

Ah. Doctors, eh? I can do you an egg…or a sandwich. Or a salad. Or a triple gin?

e. ” I’m afraid I’m allergic to that “.

Ah. Well, we’ll just pop into the pantry and see if there’s a can of something. Don’t touch the plate and I’ll get you a fresh knife and fork. Only be a minute.

Food is a minefield for many these days. It always was, to some extent, as there were people who had it and people who did not. That worked out well for the well-fed until the hungry cut their heads off. Thankfully we have fewer guillotinings these days than before, but more food intolerances.

The religious sometimes fall back on food laws to keep them from sin. The fact that the laws sometimes keep them from being comfortable dinner guests is sad, though equally, they are shielded from some pretty awful recipes. In the end, food laws are a self-punishing thing…unless someone hijacks them to demand money with menaces from restauranteurs and food suppliers – then it is criminal thuggery disguised in piety.

The genuinely allergic and/or intolerant are in a different boat. For some the avoidance of certain foods and the chemicals related to them can be a matter of life and death. Once they discover their vulnerability, they need to be wary biochemists whenever they dine. Their friends should be too.

The finicky and fussy are difficult customers. They can be so far advanced as gourmets, gourmands, or gorblimeys that any meal shared with them is an ordeal. I have sat at table with people who played the restaurant menu, the staff, and the other dinner guests like a harmonica to satisfy their own need for attention. It was painful – but not something that had to be endured twice…

For myself, there have been times when I really wanted to eat something that was forbidden me and times when I really did not want to eat another treif item. I will not tell you how I resolved the dilemma, but I did gain an appreciation of how to be delicate in those circumstances. The fall-back position was always abstinence, even if you had to push things round a plate until it was cleared. Next meal was in 6 hours, if you were lucky, and you could last for that long and do your own cooking.

 

 

” Will You Ever Shut Up? “

When people ask you this assure them that there will come a time, when you do, indeed, shut up. No life goes on forever and even if you leave behind video tapes and recordings of yourself scolding your neighbours and relatives, eventually the recordings will wear out and a blessed silence will descend.

Writers have a better chance of pressing their opinions on others long after they are dead. These may be good things, like P.G. Wodehouse novels or rubbish like Samuel Johnson’s writings. The only real end to a writer’s influence comes when they go out of print and out of circulation – Voltaire is still going and Euclid shows little sign of ceasing any time soon as long as there are parallel lines or right angles.

We might grant some eternal influence to politicians and statesmen but these reputations tend to tarnish and rot more readily than those of the writers. Territories and resources are much more desirable than ideas, and new people will always arrive trying to acquire them. In the process they remove the old rulers, then their remains, and finally their history and their names. The unlucky ones are kept round as curiosities in museums or powdered for Chinese medicines. At least the mummies that may be ground up for this sort of thing have the satisfaction of being able to make some modern Asian fool sicker than when they started out.

I am grateful for the internet as it allows me to monopolise people’s attention for five or ten minutes every morning and no talking back. I suppose one day it will disappear in an EMP but until then I have an extremely small portion of the public eye or ear to remember what I said.

And to ignore it.

 

Warning: Trigger Language.

The heading image is heavy rain falling from a grey morning sky somewhere on the North Atlantic in 1944 – as observed from the conning tower of a surfaced German U-boat.

Here is a second image with an added element: an RCAF Bristol Bolingbroke patrol bomber. It is painted all white underneath and the fitters have deliberately left the British red/white/blue roundels off the wings.

Notice that the only things you can see clearly are the anti-icing boots on the front of wings and horizontal stablisers? And if the wheels were up, you’d not even be able to see the tyres? And the airplane would be able to bring your death by machine gun or depth charge out of the rain all the more easily?

Here’s a picture of the Bolingbroke with the landing light on, coming back from the mission later in the day. Not a great deal more visibility, but at least there is something..

I post this, not warn U-boat crews to be more vigilant, but to warn drivers of white, silver, or light grey motor vehicles along Perth’s freeways in the winter rains.

IF YOU DON’T TURN ON YOUR FUCKING HEADLIGHTS YOU ARE INVISIBLE!

Death can find you at the Armadale Road turnoff just as easily as it can find you off Iceland. Death is looking for stupid people right now – people who are stupid enough to travel at high speed in the rain with no lights.

Turn on your lights.

Being Labelled As An Idiot Is Fine….

As long as it is on a sticker – not a brass plate.

We all make foolish errors from time to time. And not just errors – we make foolish choices, utter foolish statements, and espouse foolish ideas. If we are lucky , we find out about them before real harm is done. Then we have the gravest test of our character  – I call it the Will Rogers moment.

It’s the point at which we realise we are in a hole and holding a shovel. What we do with the implement after that realisation defines us. If we dig ourselves out of it, we are wise – if we dig ourselves deeper, we are foolish.

I’m brought to this thought by watching politicians discover their mistakes – We’ve seen it most poignantly here in Australia with the discovery of archaic dual-citizenship laws that were used as political tools to oust members of parliament. It continues, and the lawmakers show no sign of ceasing to dig – and no signs of mending the law to recover some of their dignity. We laughed with them at the start but by God, we’re laughing at them now.

The US President, Mr. Trump, has also found it politic to change his mind about enforcing a law regarding immigrants. The awful truth that the law was one devised by his political opponents has now come to light, and they will need to call the spin doctors and the lobbying journalists in to adjust the telling of the truth accordingly. I expect some whoppers from the other party in the next little while.

” You’ll Be Sorry “

If ever there was a phrase calculated to sound the trumpets of war, that’s it. It’ll also start the kettledrums of bad decision and the ocarina of awkwardness. Sort of like the modern music segment of an ABC concert before we get to the Beethoven.

Warning people of things is always a difficult thing – because so few want to hear the warnings and even fewer want to heed them. In fact it is a great way of precipitating a disaster but gaining virtue points at the same time. Warn someone not to drive over the cliff in the right way and they’ll swerve for the guard rail and hit the accelerator. And you can honestly testify that you tried to prevent it by giving timely advice…

It’s also a phrase that gets tacked onto psychological ploys where someone is trying to make you feel guilty. ” You’ll be sorry after I’m gone ” is the standard of the industry. It takes nerves of steel or silicone rubber to reply ” Well, I’ll be used to it by then – I’m sorry you’re here now…”. Call their bluff, by all means but not when they are standing on the top of a bluff.

Some would change the phrase – but with unknown consequences. ” You’ll be sorry. ” could become:

a. ” I’ll be sorry .”… Which reveals a little more vulnerability.

b. ” I won’t be sorry. “… That’s the sort of thing you expect Bette Davis to say, possibly with a riding crop in her hand.

c. ” You are sorry. “. Well that’s tellin’em.

d. ” No-one’s sorry. “. Now there’s a challenging piece of truth for anyone. Digest that one and you’re well on your way to philosophy.

e. ” Sorry with a fringe on top. “. Only in Oklahoma.

f. ” I used to be sorry.” Which begs the question about what emotion is running through the mind right now. This is a tough one.

As for me, I do have some regrets but they mostly centre around not feeling sorry enough for long enough. Weeping gives me hiccups and at my age gnashing your teeth is a good way to lose a cusp. I’ve taken to just handing out angst biscuits at morning tea and letting it go at that.

 

A Note to Friends: We Are Enemies

If you have no friends – and unfortunately there are some people who don’t – you can still have enemies. They may take the place of friends and provide you with as much pleasure and reason for being as the happier relationships.

In some respects they are a cheaper option – you needn’t wine or dine them and no birthday or Christmas presents are needed. No petrol need be expended in visits, unless you elect to stalk them late at night. You’ll never be called to collect them from the city watch house.

On the other hand, you’ll need to spend more on tranquilizers, antidepressants, and laxatives to cope with a large circle of enemies. If you have really made some horrors you may have to add arms and lawyer’s fees to that as well.

The return they give in boosting the morale and venting off the rage that we all feel against existence may compensate you for this but some people feel they can get all the stimulation they need from electric sockets  and stepping on Lego blocks.

Those who do elect to have friends can make them, buy them, or inherit them. The initial cost may be higher in the case of commercial companions but there is an advantage in that they can be discarded without regret – the others always seem to stick on. Friends are also somewhat more expensive to maintain – food, drink, entertainment, creams, ointments, anti-fungal treatments…it all adds up. Plus those pesky birthday presents. It is sometimes all you can do to find a suitable item at the Goodwill and a trip to the municipal tip can take just ages.

Of course there are advantages – someone to tell your secrets to and from whom salable confidences can be extracted. Someone who will lend money and be too embarrassed to demand it back. Someone who owns a trailer and will shovel things into it.

Be careful not to mix friendship or enmity with blood relation – at least until the important wills are read. You can be stuck on the wrong side of a codicil with no way of reversing the situation – and no-one wants to end up being the relative-in-the-wrong.