The Social Register

A social register is a grille set into the floor or wall that emits hot air in winter.

No, wait, that’s a central heating system. The social register is a small book that is available at a public library that emits hot air all year round. It tells you who is considered to be important enough to be noticed by the people who are not important. It’s the handbook of snobbery.

My experience with these books is small. I was never asked for an entry in Who’s Who or DeBretts. The Amanach de Gotha is so much German to me. I did briefly feature in ” What The Hell Was That? ” but it has a limited readership. Most of the information in it was hearsay and I am glad I neither heard it nor said it.

The whole idea of public record of social standing is a little like zinc chromate paint – a necessary treatment but a sickly colour. You may read as many potted biographies in the book as you like, but the real question will be why you are reading – for moral gain or financial advantage? Worship or targeting information? And are you required to believe anything you read?

Remember that many of the people in there wrote their own guff – or were rich enough to hire someone to write it for them. Are they likely to be telling you dirty little secrets? Not on your nelly. What you’ll read is the image they wish to project – even if they are dim, cracked, and dirty to begin with the result is likely to be shiny and bright.

But do not be too discouraged or cynical. Social registries do have a benefit for the community. Once they are published the lies are out in the open – and recorded clearly for all to see. As time goes on the truth about most people surfaces, and then you can compare it to the advertisement for an even more piquant experience. The lawyers of the powerful will prevent you from scolding or scalding them, but they cannot stop you from laughing.

 

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You Get One Hour And That’s All

No, this isn’t a pay-per-view site with kitten videos…

I am at the computer desk for one hour while a coat of spray varnish dries on a model airplane. I’ve learned that it is dangerous to be in the workshop while paint dries as I eventually touch it to see if it is dry and it isn’t. See? Even perfect characters have flaws…

I think the one-hour rule would be good in many aspects of life. Meals, for instance – if you are going to dawdle for several hours either you are going to eat and drink too much or whatever it is you are pushing round the plate is not worth the time. And timing is everything.

Sex? Well, decide that one for yourself, but consult your partner about the issue. 60 minutes for a 63 -minute person is a bad time to quit.

Reading? Well, you might stretch a bit further if it’s a 19th century French novel with heaving bosoms and creaking bedsprings, but technical journals and political columns can definitely be limited to an hour.

Gardening? Oh, that one could definitely stop at an hour. But one always seems to be in the middle of a rose bush with secaturs – bleeding – doesn’t one? In the end you are not so much pruning as cutting yourself free.

Driving? Yes. Stop the car. Get out and either pee, puke, or purchase petrol. Reset the mechanism.

Television? Set aside an hour a day to watch television. Then don’t. Read a book.

Exercise? If you can sprint on a treadmill or do push-ups for a solid hour – and wish to do this –  there is nothing I can say to you that you can hear.

Hobby work? A fair call. I’m waiting out a coat of varnish so that it can be smoother. if I had a spray room with a door sealing it, I could carry on with some other modelling task while I was waiting.

Photography? An hour in a studio with a glamour model is a short time. With a family of unhappy portrait customers it is an eternity.

 

 

 

The Air Force Haircut

Mickey Spillane – the novelist who wrote the Mike Hammer series of detective thrillers – was a man with a head – and his head grew hair. As he was not a violin player he had to get it cut frequently and he is reported to have favoured barbers located outside Air Force bases as they knew how to give their clients an Air Force haircut.

I think Mickey was a wise man – because every time I go to the barber these days I get a hairdresser. If I wanted to have my hair dressed, I would take up violin playing…

Thankfully, this week I discovered how to get what I – and Mickey  – wanted from the barber. When I was asked how I wished to have it cut I told him do it Air Force short. Further enquiry tried to specify a comb size so we did an experiment starting at a high number and racking it back until it looked like I wanted it to look. I appear to be a No. 2 comb – a little more hair than basic training but pretty even up there.

I do not imagine I will get the same barber next time – they seem to belong to a travelling trade – but I will remember the Air Force line and the No. 2 comb.

I Used To Wonder But The Internet Cured Me Of Asking Questions

I have heard the internet described as a series of interconnected rabbit holes – you go down one in search of something and are decoyed into a side tunnel that delivers you somewhere else. That is, if you are not distracted in this second tunnel and head down a third one…

If this were the case it would be no worse than a set of encyclopedias. We possessed a set of World Book Encyclopedias when I was a child – probably provided by my maternal grandfather – and they were the greatest source of indoor entertainment I had. They even surpassed toys and other books, as they had actual facts in them, rather than bunny rabbits and fairy stories.

Of course, as a particular set of encyclopedias, they were as biased as their American publishers could make them. Had they been Encyclopedia Britannica or some Russian version translated into English, they would have been equally skewed to their countries of origin, but the young readers who resorted to them on rainy days would not have recognised that. An encyclopedia , like a dictionary, has that air of divine authority that makes heresy of any other thought.

Well that’s gone. I still have a set of World Book, got in the 1980’s, and it is very much the same product that it was in the 50’s. I do love it for the country and state facts it presents and you cannot do too much with basic chemistry or physics, but Oh Dear, the politics. And the dated views of major cities.

Is there ever going to be an authoritative encyclopedia of knowledge any more within cardboard covers? Or is it all to be updated-by-the second internet references that are supposedly reviewed for accuracy by…by…wait a minute…

The guy who was reviewing them. Isn’t he banged up in an embassy somewhere? I wonder if he would like some reading material while he is in stir? I’ve got a complete set of the World Book he can have.

 

What Do You Do When A Writing Deadline Approaches?

You either barricade yourself behind a wall of completed work…or you retreat into excuses – both are perfectly valid.

The first means that you have not disappointed your readers – at least not any more than you normally do. If your entire readership is composed of disappointed people, you have my sympathy.

But by fulfilling your obligations or promises, you only make a stick for your own back. Do good and they’ll expect it of you all the time. Keep topping yourself and one day you’ll be over the top.

On the other hand, if you retreat into whiney excuses for non-performance people will be disappointed in you…oh, wait…they were disappointed in the first example as well…

Have you thought of getting a better set of readers? People who are less judgemental? Might be a thought…

But anyway, let them down occasionally and they will not be on your ass so hard each day. This will give you time to gather new material for a glorious comeback. Because that is the real secret – if you cannot break a writing block you need to go out and find something that breaks it for you. It can be any person, event, place, or experience that makes you mad, sad, glad, or bad. If you are sweating internally, you have a live topic. And you can make it go for ever so long as the powerhouse for your work.

As you explore it and draw from it, the readership will respond. Some will agree, some will not, and some will be disappointed. That is the best indication that you are back in the groove. Go on – give ‘em what they don’t want. They’ll love ya for it.

” 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.

 

You Can Orgasm All You Want – I’m Busy

We often read about orgasms and many people have come to regard them as a good idea. Whole industries are devoted to providing them – to others and to ourselves. Not only producing them but documenting them and sharing pictures, written accounts, and sound recordings. For all I know there may be firms who sell smells, tastes, and electromagnetic auras of orgasms to a willing market.

But I am also reminded of a scurrilous little cartoon I once saw that showed four people standing around comparing the pleasures to be had from various sexual adventures. One claimed that one form of lovemaking was the best, another touted for an entirely opposite behaviour, and a third had a list of variations to recommend. The fourth was honest – saying none of the forms of sex were half as pleasurable as just taking a regular daily dump. Well, I did say it was scurrilous…

But it was probably right for some people. And I suspect there are equal numbers of other activities that spark pleasure hidden pleasure…even if they do not support vast empires as they do it:

a. Picking your own vegetables and eating them raw in the garden.

b. Finally getting the car completely clean. LIke the afterglow of sex, this cleanliness lasts for only a very short period of time before the cat jumps on either the bonnet of the car or the bed.

c. Starting out with a burning desire to spend money on something and then discovering that you have all the necessary component parts to do it already  – for free. If you carry on to project completion and haven’t spent any money, you can lie there in the dark and chortle to yourself

d. Wearing old clothes while looking at the cost of new ones.

e. Finding a book that you have always wanted but have never seen in the shops. And it is on sale for 50¢ at the library…