Damn You, World Leaders!

I used to have a pretty good corner on the local cynicism market when I worked behind a retail counter. I could size up a customer in four seconds and predict what would come out of their mouth…And make the rest of the staff laugh until they were ill into their paper lunch bags or the till.

Now you have blown this to pieces. No longer can I shock or amuse when you have topped nearly everything I ever did, and continue to do even worse each day. I cannot possibly compete with Trump and Trudeau, and now even Boris Johnson is doing it in his retirement.

Boris. A man burdened with the name of a cartoon Russian spy name, plus a body and  head of hair that was God’s gift to cartoonists, thinks the moslem burqua is a bad look. You couldn’t write this stuff and sell it to the Three Stooges – they’d turn it down as too slapstick.

I’m not in favour of the garment as such but then my objection is that it is too much confined to the one sex – if the males of the tribe were similarly swathed and hidden I would say fine. Or ditch the black lump look and substitute exotic and bright colours and designer patterns. If they must make themselves look like a bolt of cloth at least make it the fancy stuff.

But back to the world leaders. I think we miss out on a lot of good stuff by being Euro and American-centric in the news coverage. I’ll bet there are some wise and wonderful statesmen ( oops, statespeople. Sorry, Justin. ) in the various dictators, theocrats, plutocrats, autocrats, and kleptocrats of the other continents. We just need to have them on the telly regularly. And not just when they are being tried – before that, when they are reviewing the troops or beating the recalcitrants.



Giving The Flick

You read yesterday’s column? The one about getting the flick, and how to deal with it? Welcome to this morning, when you’ll find out how to give the flick.

Oh, for the record – the flick is a term for arrogant dismissal. It is also the brand name for a pesticide, though it is not considered a good idea to spray people with it as a form of social dismissal.

So, based upon that definition, why would you give someone the flick?

a. You are insecure in yourself and wish to appear more powerful, cool, entitled, etc than you really are. If you give someone the flick you can pretend to a superior place in the social order.

b. You are a cruel and arrogant person, and need an outlet for these traits.

c. You are frightened of someone and need to keep them away from you.

d. The flickee is a person with horrible, terrible, inconvenient, or disturbing characteristics.

e. No-one is looking at you and you would like them to. Time to show your power.

Few of these are good reasons, but they are all real reasons, as your experience in life will confirm. While this column cannot make you a better person than you are already, it can suggest ways in which you can disguise the truth about you. Not to yourself, mind, but to other people.

a. Do not flick at all. Glide away yourself from unwanted encounters with the most grace that you can manage. If grace involves jinking violently and emitting smoke, so be it.

b. Flick dramatically. Rage, scream, throw yourself on the floor. Howl imprecations at the flickee until they run terrified. Foam. Break a blood vessel in your eye. Thrash about until you have to be restrained.

It is one of the kindest things you can do for them as it will excuse them from feeling as though they were in the wrong or that they have lost a valuable friend. They will avoid you like the plague in the future, and any number of people will join them.

c. Flick in the kindliest manner possible. Set your victim down on a soft chair. Bring them tea and biscuits. Express your regret at having to leave them. Then leave them.

In the end, there is no act of Congress, Parliament, or Synod that can compel you to a friendship against your will. You are required to be civil and lawful to all, but you are allowed to set out your circle of affection to suit yourself. Draw the circle wisely.


Getting The Flick

A friend once commented on Facebook about getting the flick socially, so I thought I’d address the topic. I, too, have gotten the flick on a number of occasions and can help with navigating the situation.

a. We will all get the flick at some stage of the game – regardless of how sociable, kind, worthy, honest, lovable, etc that we are. We can take some comfort in the reflection that we will also get it if we are mean, spiteful, vulgar, rude, dangerous, or smelly. The thing is not predicated upon our worth – it is independent of us.

b. We will sometimes get the flick when we are most sensitive…and we will feel it acutely. On other occasions it will pass unnoticed and we’ll be surprised by it years later. When someone cuts us but we do not wince or bleed it takes away a great deal of the significance of the act.

c. Sometimes other people notice the event and look carefully at us to see our reaction. At other times, they fail to see it entirely. The only significance of this is the encouragement it gives us not to notice the flick either.

d.  The flick can be casual or studied. If we are of no value to the flicker, it will be the first sort – if we are essential to them and they want to make sure that we are hurt, it will be the second. The deliberate flick, however, can be disguised to appear of no consequence.

Therein lies the best counter to it all. If someone essays to hurt you and you do not appear to be hurt, they are mired in frustration. Worse – if you are gracious to them, they are in a bad position themselves. Kindliness and polite attention can have roughly the same penetrating power as a 17 pounder anti-tank shell.

e. The flick only lasts as long as it is noticed. When it is forgotten it will either need to be repeated with more emphasis ( dangerous ) or lost forever. Old flicks are like the hollow shells of insects that you find under the sofa – you sweep them away without further interest.



How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

Creative Heckling In The Digital Age

Once upon a time a heckler had only two weapons – their voice and a basket full of over-ripe tomatoes. Both might come arching out of the darkness to disrupt a speech, play, poetry reading, or political speech, and it was as well to have a washable costume as a resilient mind. Both of these forms of heckling were possible only if the person being bothered had no way of retaliation.

But time and again, the heckler may have found out they bit off more than they could chew. Ragging a first-time open mike comic at a pub might send them off in tears, but trying the same thing on a first-line comic in a closed venue – particularly if it was in a crowd of fans – could prove costly. In some cases the comic was well enough in with the staff – or owned the club themselves – and could have a portable spot turned on the loudmouth. And then let fly with whatever would best shut them up.

Heckling at a political rally might even do more good than harm for the candidate. Several presidential candidates and many parliamentary ones have benefitted from being quicker-witted than their detractors and with the benefit of national press coverage have spurted ahead in popularity on the basis of a put-down.

Note: Heckling in a courtroom is technically known as contempt of court and is generally rewarded with time in the Coldwater Hotel. Shout if you must, but you will get thrown into the street or a cell…

Well, that’s the old days – now we have the internet, the social media site, and the fake news phenomenon to play with. Heckling can be referred to as trolling, pranking, and any number of other fashionable words – and can be indulged in from the comfort of Mom’s basement. No need to go out in the cold and be unpleasant when you can do so from home. You can also do so from someone else’s home or home-site if you are clever enough. It almost seems that the possibilities are endless. Who can stop you?

a. The police: You leave a finger, foot, or other part of the body print every time you hit a keyboard. If you are illegally obnoxious, they are sometimes forced to become legally so.

b. The FBI/KGB/ ASIO/ Mossad/Deuxieme Bureau/MI5,6,7,and 8: They have minds even more devious than the local cops and a bigger budget. Piss on them and they have the resources to wring you out like a dishcloth.

c. The faceless Facebook: If you cost them money, they will stop you from costing them money. They can do it by pressing a switch.

d. Mrs. Mulcahey: Donny’s mother. If you give Donny a bad time she also has a switch. It is about a half-inch thick and made of hickory and she’ll apply it to your ass until she gets tired of hitting you…and Mrs. Mulcahey is a woman of stamina…

Well, Well, Well…

For those of you wondering how the workplace contretemps finished, I can say that it finished very well.

Pardon was asked, given, and registered by all concerned. A proposal for a way of avoiding the problem in the future was put forward ( by me ) and accepted. I shall benefit from protection against any business problem in the future.

Thank you, Lord Chesterfield, for your cogent advice. Thank you as well, Dr. Franklin, for yours. I shall certainly take it. Of course, Nicolo, you are generally right about the way things are governed by princes, and I shall also review your excellent text to make sure I miss nothing.


Do You Have A Receipt For That? The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia Holiday Special

A receipt? Well, no, I don’t. It was given to me as a gift. I’m not even sure I have the wrapping paper or the scotch tape and the card any more. It was given five years ago and there’s been a lot of council bin days since then…

And there is an interesting legal question – many of the possessions we own have been given to us by friends and relations on various occasions – but few of them have been given to us with any paperwork beyond a gift tag. Larger items that we have bought ourselves may indeed be recorded in a paper or electronic trail – store receipt, registration for guarantee, credit card entry, etc. These can be tied to us on a definite date, provided the paper bits have not faded or the company records destroyed. But nothing at all for a gift. And therein lies one of the best opportunities for the Backstabber.

a. Buy something digital and pay for it with a traceable record. Register it with the overseas maker via the internet and remove the registration papers. Do not touch it.

b. Give it to a friend or acquaintance in plain gift wrap. You can choose a festive occasion or any private date.

c. Wait. Eventually the item will fail and the user will attempt to reset it. With no password and no original registration. Learn their mobile phone number and block it from your phone.

d. If you are impatient for fun, put the item on the back seat of your car, smash the window, and then take it to your friend’s house. On the way home call in at the police station and report a burglary. Generally your insurance will pay for the window and then it is only a matter of time…