I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.
Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.
Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.
But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:
a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.
b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.
c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.
In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.
Let’s face it. There are a whole lot of difficulties that would dissolve if we were allowed to make more use of the slingshot and the bag of gravel.
a. Traffic holdups.
Not that the SAABOG would help if there are cars t-boned at an intersection or flipped over on the side of the road. But it would sure clear up a lot of those scenes where two entitleds are yelling at each other over a fender-bender.
Not to mention the bicycle riders five abreast.
b. Ethnic dancing festivals.
I like ethnic dancing and photograph it frequently. The best stuff is terrific, but the worst stuff is also terrific – using a more precise definition of the word. It gets bad as the tempo slows and once you have reached to point of art set to modern atonal music you can be forgiven for reaching for the SAABOG. A couple of well-aimed flints can start the slowest dancer and a wise shooter will drive them toward the exits.
c. ” You kids get off my lawn! ”
Don’t yell at ’em. SAABOG. No noise, no smoke, no smell.
d. Does the local dog chase you when you walk down the street? Have you tried politely asking the neighbours to prevent this from happening? Did they laugh at you? Were you embarrassed and distressed?
There’s still gonna be embarrassment and distress, but now it’ll be a shared set of emotions.
E. Same neighbours?Same attitude? Wild parties every weekend that go until 4:00AM?
SAABOG. After the midnight cutoff point when the cops refuse to come out yet again, start firing gravel up into the air in a high arc from your darkened yard. You might be horrified at the price of howitzer ammunition these days but gravel is cheap. Treat yourself.
Standing for Parliament costs money – a fact that all people understand. The corollary is simple; not standing for parliament saves money. Particularly if that includes not standing for the policies and imposts of the parliament.
I do not suggest that people should revolt – there are far too many people on my Facebook feed who are revolting enough as it is. But I do think we should refuse to pay.
Refuse to pay the enormous salaries that parliamentarians get…and then refuse to pay the pensions, perks, and golden handshakes that usher them out the door. At very least, expose the entirety of their financial dipping and slurping while they are in office.
The two and a bit party system provides a certain amount of jealous spite to do this – but it is always tempered by the knowledge that once one lot succeeds in driving the other from the public teat, they can fasten upon it and suck as hard as possible. It ain’t morals that drives the moralists – it’s the desire to get to that teat.
Note: This week there is a petition to the Australian parliament to get rid of an Australian parliamentarian because of his crass statements after a terrorist attack in New Zealand. So far it apparently has some 850,000 signatories. For a land of some 20 million people – most of them pretty conservative and politically apathetic – that’s actually pretty big beans. As both major parties are going to make a censure motion on the individual in the Senate, it is a very big beans indeed.
We’re constantly being bombarded by Facebook data-grabs of various kinds – asking our favourite colour, condiment, or calibre of rifle bullet. If we fall for them, our preferences are shunted off to the advertisers who have paid the social platform for the information. Then we are bombarded with advertisement pointed to what they think are our interests.
Frankly, I think that Zuks…
But there is one particular hootchy kooch that puzzles me – the one that asks me to think up a food name that doesn’t end in Q or a dog’s name that is the same in a mirror. Even if I can come up with something that fits the criteria, what use can they make of it?
Are the stupid ones designed to find people who can be sold cryptocurrency? Are the impossible ones a recruiting drive for Bletchley Park? Or do they just put this filler in when the kitten or Trump posts are running low?
I long to send out a few myself:
” Write an entire Polish novel without using a vowel.”
” Find the Good Guys in Syria ”
” Where, in Mississippi, can you legally shove a pickle? ”
From the answers I will compile a list of people who are incautious. This characteristic is valuable because they are the type of person who will invest in bulk-buy cosmetics or time-share holidays in Queensland. In some cases they can be induced to buy waterfront property in Townsville…though to be fair that is generally everywhere in Townsville some years.
They can be induced to enter a dark kitchen alone when the soundtrack makes that Wheep Wheep noise.
They can also be induced to stand for Parliament on an independent basis. Hey, there’s a good living in taking their deposits…
Look it up: swivel gun. Google should have a few pictures from maritime museums. Try to imagine the fun you could have with your own.
And it’s not just the owners of merchant ships passing the east coast of Africa who might appreciate a brace of ’em. Local boat owners who get sick of other people crowding them out in the marinas…or who are afflicted with saboteurs attacking their vessels while docked. Indeed, the Rottnest ferry would probably benefit as well.
The whalers and fishermen who are pestered by the Sea Shepherd gangsters would also appreciate the devices…after all the maritime nuisances do have a skull and crossbones as a symbol and I think that makes them fair and traditional game for a charge of canister over the taffrail.
For myself, as I do not own a boat, I would settle for just the one…mounted on the driver’s side door of my Suzuki Swift with a friction primer and the lanyard led inside through the window. I would use it in our local shopping centre car park for the drivers who loom up and menace you when you are trying to carefully back in or out. I would not be too mean…perhaps load it with Jaffas instead of grapeshot.
If it’s good enough for Johnny Depp and Geoffry Rush, it’s good enough for me.
A long time ago before I was as discrete and wise as I am now…cough, cough, cough…I owned a brand-new muzzle loading rifled musket. It was a beauty, capable of throwing a one-ounce minie ball some 1200 yards. It was a man-killer of the British Army in the 1850’s and was certainly capable of doing it in 1988. The local police were willing to licence it to me, probably not realising what it could do.
Well, I shot it at the local rifle range for months, getting pretty good at short distances. Then I took it to a friend’s farm…legally, as it was on an open license. My friend and I proposed to fire it at a small tree on the farm to see if we could cut it in half with the heavy bullets. After an hour of firing, we succeeded, and then packed it in and sat around smugly.
It was only on my return journey toward the city that I saw the lay of the land and realised that all the bullets that had not impacted in the unfortunate tree had passed whistling over a main road that skirted the property. A main interstate highway…
It is said that heaven protects fools and drunks and I was cold sober all day. Guess which category I belonged in. I learned instantly never to fire with no purpose.
Works the same here in the writing game – if I slope off and just blast away without watching to see where the bullets will land, I am sure to do massive harm. Thus I keep a cooling-off shelf for new articles that allows me to reconsider them before pushing the ” publish ” button. You’ll have missed out on some corkers in the last few years here in the column, but then the overshoot could have been tragic.
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.