1. Sex 2. Drugs 3. Rock And Roll

4. Driver’s license.

5. Diploma.

6. University  fees.

7. Textbooks.

8.  Accommodation.

9. Food.

10. Laundry.

11. New clothing.

12. Medical expenses.

13. Degree.

14. Job applications.

15. Relocation expenses.

16. Taxes.

17. Housing.

Welcome to the world of adulting, teenage justice warrior. You may not have time to march in front of the state legislature/parliament house/television cameras/iphones of your friends for some time as you are now required to show up and do something worth getting paid for. Hint: keep your receipts and pay slips as you’ll need them to pay your taxes. If you do not wish to pay taxes remember that there is always the Al Capone Option. They have closed Alcatraz but Leavenworth is still going…

You may note that I have left out marriage and babies from the list. You’ll learn about them when you grow up.

 

That Stuff..You Know…Stuff…

That sort of stuff. The one I want. Where is it?

And thus…vaguely…begins the sad adventure of many a failed shopping expedition. I go out to get stuff I need to do things. I know what I want a project to look like in the end and I think I have seen some material or item that will be perfect for the job, but I do not know what it is called exactly…which prevents me from going to people who sell it. I cannot name it precisely enough to call their technical expertise into action and all I get is annoyed looks.

Yet I have money and need, and whatever it is…from a dog-powered ice cream mixer to recycled underwear…is surely for sale somewhere.

The best frustration safaris start with a sample of the item that you can take with you. You still have to find the correct destination where people will recognise it and can direct you further to a real source. Frequently it’s best to just start with the internet and then feel bad online before going out to feel bad in person. A good days sees someone saying they recognise the item and a really good day goes on to them knowing where you can get some. Then when you go there, you find they went out of business last week…

I want a Citizen’s Advice Bureau at my local council office that is staffed by a team of know-it-alls. I don’t care how dry, pedantic, or irritating they are as long as they are prepared to climb down off their high horse and tell me what I want to know.

Ethical or Ethnic?

I can’t decide which to go for. They both have advantages and drawbacks. Consider the case of being ethical first:

  1. You appear good in the eyes of the world.
  2. You appear good in your own eyes.
  3. You need not fear exposure by reporters looking to fill a 5-minute slot on television.
  4. People will point to you as you pass in the street.
  5. You may be offered money to endorse  ethical goods and services.

Okay – that’s the good side of ethical. Now the bad side:

  1. The eyes of the world are often crossed, myopic, or ridden with cataracts. They see what they want to see. They wanted to see Hitler in the 1930’s – shall they look at you now…?
  2. My eyes are myopic, crossed, and cataract -ridden. If i see myself as good, how can I be certain it is not just bad eyesight?
  3. You may not want to be the subject of a media side-swipe, but then again you may wish to be a media star no matter how you get there. It’s easier to be one with a pistol than a bag of hot towels.
  4. People pointing at you can be achieved by may means. Goodness, badness, and horrid taste in clothing. The first two are changeable matters – the last is permanent.
  5. You may be offered more money to endorse disgusting things and awful practices. The cash looks the same except there is more of it and you often don’t have to tell the tax office. If the tax office offer you money to endorse them, do not draw up the contract in blood. I’ve seen cult movies…

Now we move on to being ethnic. Frowned upon at the start of the 20th century, it became all the rage in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In truth, there was a lot of rage in the 30’s and 40’s but you had to be the right ethnicity to find out about it. The good side first:

  1. If you are genuinely of a certain ethnicity, you can wear interesting clothes and speak in mysterious languages.
  2. You get to be the interesting person at the party that everyone wants to talk to.
  3. You get to eat spicy food.
  4. People defer to your perceived ethnicity and you get to feel quite special.
  5. You can always find someone from your same tribe to lend you money or to hide you from the police.

Now the awkward bits:

  1. The clothing that your ethnicity demands makes you stand out – even when you wish to blend in. It often comes from a place that has different raw materials and climate and wearing it here and now is either hot and sticky or cold and miserable. Finally, it might just look ugly and make you feel silly.
  2. If you are the interesting person, the drunks will cluster about you and try to make themselves look big by arguing with you. You will never be right, because they will always be drunk.
  3. The spicy food you get to eat often contains the parts of animals or plants that more sensible societies bury in a sinkhole. If you want to maintain your ethnic ticket you have to choke it down.
  4. People do not defer to your ethnicity – they make a show of it based on what they saw on television. Their measured comment on racial questions is just one drink away from asking you whether you like fried chicken and watermelon. ( I do, as it happens…)
  5. The person from your tribe who lends you money and hides you knows exactly how much interest you owe them on that loan and where to find you. They also know the phone number for the police.

So there it is. I am still undecided as to which course to pursue. Advice written on a small slip of paper and stuck in a crack in the wall would be appreciated.

Holiday At Home – Part Two – In the Mood

Having established in our minds that forking over $ 10,000-$20,000 to go somewhere might be a bad idea, we are left to think up some way in which we can get the holiday experience without the holiday expense.

The first thing to get straight is what you really want from a holiday. This’ll differ with different people but here’s some of the things we look for:

  1. A change of scenery. Some place different from the neighbourhood. It need not be good or interesting scenery as long as it is new. This explains why people go to some of the world’s pest holes and regard it as fun.
  2. A change of weather. If you just cannot face another fortnight of heat, cold, rain, or anything else that your local met department serves up, you get on your camel and ride to where someone else is uncomfortable. I must admit that this has occurred to me in the middle of oppressive seasons.
  3. A change of food and drink. Whatever you normally eat and drink, you do rather fancy something exotic. Of course you’ll probably reel back in horror as it plops on your plate and demand home cooking, but the restaurants are used to this. They just take it back to the kitchen and fry it; you’ll eat it later.
  4. A change of people. You always think that you’ll encounter wonderful wizened old people who will impart the secrets of life to you – or a romantic partner – or cheerful peasants. Boy, have we got news for you. The wizened crones are 17 but have been standing close to a nuclear waste dump, the romantic partner wants to steal your passport, and the cheerful peasants are high on goat shit. You left home and flew Economy 17 hours straight to get this…
  5. Duty Free.
  6. Relaxation.
  7. Peace and quiet.

All these things are good things, seen in themselves. We look at travel brochures and imagine that they are in the photos – in fact, the images we really see are in our own minds. They may be totally false views, but as they are pictures that we show ourselves…how could we be wrong? We trust us, even if we shouldn’t.

In reality, we could achieve nearly all we want in the holiday trip with a little readjustment of our minds and some clever use of local resources. We need not lock ourselves in the bathroom – we can go on trips – but sometimes we need not go as far as all that.

Read tomorrow and see how far.

At The Start Of The New Calendar Year

I wish to address my readership; friends, acquaintances, clients, and others who have been following my columns over the years. We have just survived a holiday period and entered into a new decade – the 2020’s – and I’d like to set matters straight at the beginning.

Firstly – if there is anyone who has been offended by anything I have written in the past decade – either here or in the commercial column I write – could they please contact me with details of the piece that caused the problem. Whatever it was – outrage, grief, melancholy, or  a vague sense of unease – just give me a brief analysis of the thing.

It is very valuable to know when a raw point has been touched – a nerve pinched or a powder magazine exploded. It allows for repeated and accurate targeting and really efficient destruction. Rest assured that any information is kept in the strictest confidence until it has been on-sold and a receipt given. The BGA is nothing if not professional.

Likewise, there are going to be topics which the users of this column long to read about. We’re not going to provide the winners of the 3:40 from Kempton, obviously. But we may do so for a cut of the profits. And it will be just the same with other things – if you want to read about something, just let me know. Any information will be gratefully received. If there is any story you wish me to suppress, just see appendix A. for the price list. Silence is golden, but misleading statements and rumours can be had for silver and copper.

Finally, some politicians have been concerned that they have been represented in a bad light throughout the last decade – made to look foolish or criminal or tawdry. They feel that their reputations have been tarnished here in the column by the inference that they  are vile.

Rest assured that is not the case – they are vile because of their behaviour and their reputations are non-existent. If anything, we’ve made them look better…refuting that old adage about not being able to polish a turd. You can indeed do it, but it’s still hard to find buyers…

The Grass Is Greener…

And the days are longer and the people are better and the government is kinder and…

If you live in Australia or North America you will probably have noticed that life is always lived better in places that you are far away from. I most cases these are European places, and tend to be the parts of Europe where you will probably never go. The culture is richer, the people are better, and the political system is far grander than on your own benighted patch of ground.

This is no new phenomenon – it has been the constant message from any number of media presenters for decades. At one time the more desirable places were the Greek islands or tiny towns in Tuscany. Now they seem to be Iceland or Finland or Sweden. Really, they could be anywhere that you’re not likely to have actually visited…because then you might begin to suspect that it is a load of hooey.

Oh, I’m not saying these places are not wonderful for their residents, but the superiority that they are credited with in 2020 doesn’t seem consistent with what they were in 1920, 1940, or later. Had they been such paradises of human delight, the tens of thousands of European emigrants that sailed to Australasia and North America would have stayed home in the first place.

The attempt to sell a culture with propaganda is one thing…the attempt to sell a cultural cringe is another. It was tried in Australia in the 40’s and 50’s and didn’t fly.

By all means tell us of the wonderful traditions of the scandahoovians but try not to invent too many of them as you go along.

Watching The Slaves Crawl From The Mines

We have road rules here in Western Australia that compel us to slow down to 40 km per hour as we pass salt mines or sweat shops when the slaves are being lead into or released from their confinement. It is generally thought to be for safety purposes in case one of the desperate creatures throws themselves under the car wheels in a bid to end their misery. This would be a major economic loss for their owners, as well as a jolly nuisance for the car driver.

Actually, though, I think it is to allow the people who see them trudging in long, sad lines to enjoy themselves and their own relative freedom from the torture. Nothing makes the heart gladder than the miseries of others, kept at a convenient distance.

The inmates of the slave farms are identifiable by their uniform clothing. The hilarious part of it is that the unattractive garments they are compelled to wear are not provided by the slave owners – the parents of the unfortunates are paying stiff little prices for everything they wear. And the clothing is generally marked so that it cannot be used for other purposes.

Of course there are always some down sides to any cheerful story. In the case of the slaves, some are being taught useful traders so that they can be on-sold after their indentures are completed. When they do successfully learn their trade they become cocky and arrogant. That is when they set the dogs on them.

The part that puzzles me is the provision that is made for guards to keep them from escaping during the transition from the slave factories to their hovels. They do not seem to be armed, apart from a set of flags or a staff that looks like a lollypop. Perhaps they carry guns or tasers under their fluoro vests. I know I would, considering what some of the smaller slaves look like.