Reliving The Lives Of Someone Else’s Ancestors…

I used to take a great delight in the re-enactment hobby. I discovered it in the 1980’s as an adjunct to the activities of our local muzzle-loading rifle shooting club.

We’re in Australia, but a section of the country that has little colonial history of note – few battles and none of them famous. Re-enacting colonial times would mainly involve hard work, dirt, and discomfort. It is an unattractive prospect compared to the pageantry and bloodshed of  the United States, Britain, or the European continent. There is little in the way of glamour to it all.

So I reached out – gathering materials to pretend to live in 1860’s America, 1800’s England, and various areas during the Middle ages. There were a lot more things to wear and do when one concentrated on these cultures. At various times you could have seen me as an ACW soldier of either side, a British soldier of 1815 or 1860, a medieval dentist or crossbowman…it was a varied picture. But none of it was a picture of my own life …or of the lives of my ancestors.

Ultimately, this is where the activity failed. It introduced me to like-minded individuals here and now, and I value their friendships….but it had no valid connection to my life.

So what has taken the place of this once all-consuming passion? What fire burns in the grate now? And why is it producing a better heat for me? Read the next post and see.

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The Assumption Of Social Media

It happened again today. I sat down in my lounge room with a friend and had a conversation. The computer was off and I made no typographical errors. Both he and I seemed to be making intelligent statements and not once did we break out into a political meme or a picture of a cat. And neither of us invited the other person to play a brightly-coloured game. I’m a little creeped out at present.

Is this the start of an actual thing – this business of talking face to face and not using emojis? ( I will admit to making several emoji faces, but my friend just asked whether I had swallowed a teaspoon.

It all came about by him deciding that Facebook was eating up too much of his spare time, and by analysing the bulk of the posts and conversations…and then deciding that many of them were not as attractive or as helpful as a blank screen. And he’s not the only one – I have a regular weekly meeting with another friend ( at least I’m regular, but then fibre biscuits will do that for you ) where we do much the same thing. The topics are far-ranging and there are no advertisements to endure. So far neither of us has put the other one on time-out for a month.

Social media assumes that we want to see all that we do see. It tries by means of computer logging and recording to find out exactly what we want to look at, with no responsibility save that of the shill to provide anything else. It is the snoop and the sneak at the edges of our conversations with others – always piping up with what it hopes is a catchy phrase or picture. The click-bait scams are, quite frankly, just a form of intellectual pornography.

It assumes we are more foolish and venal than we really are. That we can be cozened into doing small useless things and that we will be willing to set these things onto other people in a chain of folly. This may seem to be annoying and insulting, but really is a valuable thing. It enables you to see who within your circle of acquaintance is gullible enough to borrow money from. Though I should be quick – by the time the click-bait advertisers get to them, they may have spent it already on lemon peelers and facelift hooks.

Like the moon landings, this experience of actual human interaction is one small step for mankind. Who knows whether it may ultimately lead to turning Facebook off altogether. Only time will tell.

The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bead

The next best thing to sliced bread is not, as the advertisers would have you believe, a new electronic gadget or app. It is not an item of clothing or a kitchen appliance. It is cheese and pickle.

Thus another popular saying ( here in Australia ) goes for a Burton. North American readers can also go for a Burton but they’ll have to hunt out an English pub or beer shop to do it. Elizabeth Taylor went for a Burton…

Do you think that popular sayings and buzz-phrases are getting to be clichéd? You’re not wrong, Narelle. And we are being bombarded with more of them every day, thanks to the very screen you are looking at. They can become a burden after a while and we long for good old-fashioned communication like you got before the War. When men were men and women were women and the ABC announcers dressed up in suits and ties to read scripts over a radio microphone.

I think it is time to take back this level of earnestness and style. To re-assert the right of everyone to be elegant. Therefore:

a. Henceforth this column will be written while fully  the author is fully dressed. No more old green bathrobe and slippers. No more typing while wearing nothing but a wet towel. Or less.

b. No more buzz phrases – or at least none that are currently in use on Facetwit or that other slightly profane site; Instadamn.

c. All words will be correctly spelled and supplied in correct grammatical form. And the correct spelling may not be what the biased Spell Checker at the top of the WordPress menu would have it. I have been watching this suspect program and seen several howlers pass its scrutiny. It may be time to finally decide whether British English or American English is to prevail…though the Canadian compromise might be adopted for the sake of convenience. Whichever one is chosen, there will be protests from the grammatically arrogant.

d. Colourful local words and phrases like ” Crikey ” and ” Stone the crows ” will be permitted but must be put in the mouths of colourful locals. Direct quotes only, preferably from a scaffold.

e. I have no objection to foreign words creeping in as long as they then creep out again.

f. No-one would expect to have a brain surgeon or waist gunner perform their special tasks while eating a Subway  tuna-fish sandwich. Likewise the readers do not want their literature bedaubed with taco sauce or biscuit crumbs. Henceforth the desk will be cleared of plates while the column is being typed. This will have the added benefit of not requiring a new keyboard after Spaghetti Night.

g. I shall occasionally introduce a new word or phrase to cover a particular point of communication and then repeat it enough times over different platfoms to set it in the public mind. Most of this will be done in a spirit of jollity and kindness, with the appropriate amount of savagery. This process of forcing language upon the unwilling shall be known as motting the rubes.

I do not expect them to be grateful, but I shall be satisfied when they start doing it to each other.

Bear Baiting For The Faint Of Heart

The trick is to find something to bait other than a bear.

In any intimate social circle of friends there will be people who can be attacked with impunity. We all know a mass murderer or sex offender or someone who wears socks with sandals. They are the legitimate targets of our hate, righteousness, and scorn when we are feeling out of sorts.

We can pillory them to our heart’s content on the internet with no danger of reprisal. But then so can everyone else, and that means that we just blend in with the braying crowd – no-one will know how virtuous and cool we are. Easy targets get no gongs, as they say in the Air Force. They may get more than their fair share of 1000 pounders, but that is no consolation when we want personal publicity. We need worthy enemies that can be vanquished easily while the light is good and the cameras are rolling.

Trouble is,  worthy enemies – again to use the Air Force analogy – are armed with flak and fighters, and are not easy targets. If you get a whipping while you are trying to do that to someone else you are not going to benefit. So what we need are targets that appear tough but are made of rubber or straw.

In the social scene these can be found amongst the rich and entitled or poor and defenseless – provided they are far enough above or below our own social standing as to render us invisible. If we can be mean from behind a double-blind of false identity it is even better. This may be the real benefit of identity theft.

Of course things can change in time. The Nigerian scammer of last decade may well become the new government of this one. Likewise the politician we all vie to hate may be proven right. We must make some provision to retract our statements, or at least to retract our signature on the libels. For this purpose we advocate the good old disappearing ink beloved of spy novels.

The safest way of all – at least on WordPress or Blogger – is to include free-form poetry or advice on how to make money from home in each post. What is never read cannot be sheeted home to you in court…

 

 

Snapping To Attention

I surprise myself occasionally with my practical determination. Yesterday I weeded my underwear drawer. I feel proud.

Modesty forbids me showing you what I found. Oh, there was nothing salacious, darn it, but I had not realised to just what a state my nether garments had descended until I noted that they were starting to head for my knees while I was still wearing them. It is a daunting feeling on a railway platform if you are the sort of person who has been taught by Mother not to dig round inside your trousers in public.

Now logic tells you that once the elastic goes in your jocks that they cannot actually get to your ankles  – unless you are a Scot in a kilt and in that case you may not have the problem in the first place… But trouser wearers, while saved from the ultimate horror, still feel as if they are making a public spectacle nevertheless. The waddling gait is the worst.

Logic again tells us to test the elastic of the garment each day before it is put on ( and here I am assuming that the wise man has more than one pair in the cupboard. If you only have enough for one week, the weekly wash will see you either sitting in bed until it is done and dried or going warily regimental. Not a prospect of comfort with woolen trousers or uncertain zips.

Better to keep two week’s supply and best to keep three – in case of inclement weather with no washing possible. I have counted my supply – together with fresh packs received as presents at Christmas and Father’s Day, I have 30 pairs. I could nearly clothe a centipede…

But back to the weeding. You draw the underwear through the fingers from side to side. If there is no elasticity, it must be discarded. If the bulk of the cloth has become so thin as to enable you to read a newspaper through the bum – it must go. Anything with a green stain is out, and you can spend time later pondering where you got the stain from. I need not discuss tooth marks…

And put aside any thought of further using garment for household purposes. You do not want it as a dishcloth or polishing rag, considering what it has been polishing all these years.

Years? I found that the discards had been purchased in 2014. I like to get value.

A Gentle Thank-You

a. To people who read my weblog columns and get the humour. And laugh.

b. To people who read the columns and do not get them and then grumble. This gives me an opportunity for laughter.

c. To people who still talk to me.

d. To people who have cut me dead.

e. To people who read my material in hopes that I will get better at writing. If it is any consolation to you, I hope I will get better as well. If there was a spell-Check for thoughts I might have a chance.

f. To the people who make Facebook as crassly stupid as it is. They do not raise any faith in mankind, but they let me feel superior to something. Not quite as good as canned chili but better than a suggested post.

g. To people who do not tailgate me at dusk when I am in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. May your tyres always maintain pressure and your seatbelt never pinch.

h. To people who keep appointments.

i. To people who help me with technical enquiries – but only if they are right.

j. To people who speak loudly enough to be heard and slowly enough to be understood.

k. To people who do not bring takeaway containers of coffee out and sip while we are in conversation.

l. To waiters and waitresses who do not hover. If I want another beer I’ll call for it; if I want a helicopter I’ll call Sikorski.

m. To book store owners who put good things on remainders tables at low prices.

Watching Championship Stupid From The Sidelines

We all see foolish things done and exhibited on crass television shows. We see them on Facebook and YouTube. But nothing beats seeing them fresh, live, and right in front of you.

I don’t mean the car crashes and people hitting light poles – these are accidents of our modern life. I also exclude criminal behaviour and its consequences – also a feature of modern life, but one that can stay well away from me. I am thinking of the modest little instances of stupidity that pop up from time to time and make us grin.

Yesterday I visited our downtown area to do a job, and when it was completed I repaired to a bookstore and then to a rooftop bar for a bit of reading and refreshment. It was delightful, until the last inch of beer in the glass. Then tow families of bogans invaded the bar with their 5 squalling children – obviously hungry, overtired, and at the end of a school vacation. The bartender looked like the hatch of hell had opened at his feet; I hastily downed that last inch and dived for the door, pursued by rising screams.

There is a provision in Western Australian liquor laws for children to be on licensed premises under direct adult control for ” reasonable refreshment” but up two flights of stairs onto a city rooftop bar seems to stretch the case somewhat. I can only hope that the children got espresso martinis and red cordial and that the train back home was delayed between stations…