Always Keep A Dead Idol Handy

All your life you have worshipped little idols. Even if the administrators of your main faith – the rabbis, priests, ministers, and mullahs – have cautioned you against it, you have still carried on. Clothing, entertainments, relationships, possessions, arts and crafts have all served as objects of worship at some stage of the game. And they have all fallen by the wayside eventually.

This is called getting older. Some people call it growing up, but that is more of a taunt than a tag-line. Maturity is the best way of looking at it, and if you can do so in a childish fashion you are winning.

The sport you loved, the car you desired, the culture you worshipped…they all pall in time. And this is as it should be. No-one can enjoy a smorgasbord if they just stand at the shellfish counter all the time – they need to move to the breads and the pickled herring and the princess cake, though not all at once…variety is needed, and you would do well to make sure that you get the same variety all the time.

When something falls away from your desire – when it becomes de trop instead of de thing – by all means usher it out of your life. You need not wear fluoro bell-bottom hipsters a moment longer than it takes to get you into bed with someone. Bell your bottom, if you will, but spare us the sight. Get over it – I assure you that the rest of us will. We are all too busy burying our own dead idols to worry about yours.

But keep a memento of the time. If it is only a badly taken Polaroid of you in the 70’s, it is at least a reminder of the hippie days and a talisman against them returning. You need not look at it more than once a decade, but don’t lose sight of where you came from and remember why you left.

Even dead idols have a place on the altar.

How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

The Little World – Applying For A Fun Licence

” This is a free country, isn’t it? ”

Fine words, and perfectly appropriate at the polling booth or in the public bar, but hesitate before uttering them in your local hobby shop. Because the answer may turn out to be ” No “.

I’m driven to this conclusion by looking at the goods on offer in the shop. Fine models, glorious kits, magnificent engines, and more trouble than you can pack into a Gladstone bag. In many cases you may be free to purchase the fun, but you will be forbidden to have it…or at least you will need to go a’begging to someone for permission to play somewhere.

If that sounds over the top, consider that here in Perth – the most isolated capital city in the world with hundreds or thousands of kilometres between us and other cities – we need to go to one special secluded spot on the outskirts of town to fly a toy airplane. We need to go 20 kilometres to sail a toy boat, and we can go to Bunbury or buggery if we want to run a toy car.

Noise, pollution, disturbance, wildlife, public nuisance,etc. etc. Councils jealously guard their parks and schools jealously guard their ovals, and woe betide the trespasser. The drone flyers have it even worse as they are the bete noir of everybody. Doesn’t stop the hobby shops from trying to sell lots of different drones, but when it comes to clubs flying them…?

So far the toy train people can escape most of the contumely and control as their layouts are inside, and on their own property. If they take them outside they can be harassed for creating an attractive nuisance or for spoiling the council’s view of what the garden should look like.

The toy soldier, car, and doll collectors also escape most of this problem…but this is probably only because the police and council haven’t figured out an angle that can either fee or fine the collector. Have no fear…they are probably working on it. They already have a stranglehold on the militaria collectors who just want to trade old muskets.

I am not going to worry too much. I’m sure I contravene a number of regulations by collecting toy cars and taking pictures of them and a zealous enemy could put in so many council complaints as to make the hobby miserable, but collecting enemies could also be a lot of fun.

Particularly if you pin them to a board or press them between the pages of a thick book.

” I’m Disillusioned…”

Bloody Goodoh!

Now you get to see things as they really are, instead of through the veil of prejudice and pre-training that someone draped around you when you were a kid. You can cast aside the sage advice that Dear Old Dad or Dear Old Mum gave you and make your own Dear Old Decisions. Even if they are Dear Old Mistakes, they will at least be your own product. All the programming that your teachers and your playfellows did on you when you were in school can be thrown into the bin.

Watch out for the current crop of fake news and meme sites. Keep a weather eye out for actual propaganda and steer clear of it. Don’t allow people on your Facebook list or in your social circle to bamboozle you either. They can be as wrong as they can be right…and if they have resorted to FB to tell you how to live your life, they are more likely to be the former than the latter.

Always look to see where the money trail leads. If it leads from your wallet to someone else’s, you can be certain that they approve of this and that you have been set up for harvest. Pay if you wish, but remember that you can also tell whoever it is demanding your money that they can go to hell in a handbasket. If they seem hesitant to start, help them into the basket. With your boot.

Cherish as many falsities as you like…just don’t impose them on others. If you like the sound of a certain idea because it makes you feel good, indulge yourself all you wish behind closed doors. Close the computer program before you start – no-one needs to see you lost in whatever rapture you enjoy. We’ll wait out in the hall until you recover yourself.

 

Discretion Is the Bitter Part Of Valour

It certainly is bitter when it prevents you from crushing your enemies and drinking blood from their skulls. This can take all the fun out of a children’s birthday party.

Being discrete means different things to different people – in one case not mentioning  that the hostess’s soufflé has slumped to the side of the plate – in another not screaming ” Die, Infidel! ” and leaping at the SAS trooper with the machine gun. Neither makes for a comfortable social interaction.

You might be tempted to equate discretion with cowardice. This is false. Cowardice never attempts anything – discretion only baulks at the impossible or improvident. Both will serve to keep their practitioner out of trouble, but the former brings disgrace once detected; the latter can sometimes bring honour. The difficulty is in knowing where the boundary line is.

People often try to introduce a moral tone to what might otherwise be a purely operational decision. They ask ” Will what I do make the world a better place? “. ” Will it be fair, and right, and kindly? “. They might as well ask whether it will be covered in unicorn sparkle poo. The question is just a way of masking underlying cowardice.

A wise and brave man asks different questions: ” Will it work? “…” Will the benefit outweigh the cost? “…” Can I sheet the blame home to someone else if it all goes to pieces? “. Answered honestly, these will help you to determine whether to do something or just go to the washroom and crawl out through an open window.

Remember – no-one ever blamed Confucius for the explosion of the HINDENBERG. Confucius was no fool.

The Trap Of Entertainment

” Entertain me. ”

Has anyone ever said that to you? What did you feel like? Nervous? Despondent? Annoyed? Or all three in layers like Neapolitan ice cream?

It’s the sort of command that carries with it the unspoken criticism that heretofore you haven’t been doing a good job and the fact must be corrected. And that it is going to be a difficult job.

The whole concept of entertainment is a difficult one in some cultures. I imagine that the Puritans would have been a tough audience to front. Not just for the fact that they were grim to start with, but that they would also be offended with you if you succeeded in making them feel good. All pleasure would have been of the guilty sort, but not sweeter because of it.

Modern entertainment is so varied as to suggest that the very concept is unlimited. We have books, music, plays, television, radio, sports, pastimes, hobbies, and art to occupy us. Of course some will find no pleasure in any of these and some will take it in an inordinate measure. For the vast majority it is a place to run when the shackles slip off the ankles. Until they catch you and weld them on again, you can enjoy yourself. The problem is that there may be too many things available at any one time. Wise escapees limit themselves to one thing at a time, and reserve the rest for a later chance.

This becomes even more important when you are too old to be salable and are left to wander away. Then you need to have cached little pleasures here and there in the landscape so that you can go to them and be refreshed. Don’t be tempted to make them too grand nor too far away – you would have to expend an inordinate amount of energy to get to them. And you might discover that they would have decayed in the meantime – far better to have something small and comforting close at hand.

You may even find that your entertainment need not be provided by others – that you carried it with you all the time.

 

The Little World – What’s the Point…?

Every Little Worlder has had it – whether they are miniature builders, doll house enthusiasts, toy collectors, model collectors, collector collectors, scale modellers, airplane flyers, train hobbyists, or r/c boaters – they have all had that sneering question…

” What’s the point ? ”

It is not actually a question – it is a statement. It says two things about the person who utters it:

a. I don’t enjoy little things – because I don’t or can’t have, make, see, or imagine them.

b. I want to make you feel less than me – and the best way is to belittle what you obviously enjoy.

Answering a question is one thing – but none of us is required to answer a statement. We don’t have to become incensed or feel bad about it, or to notice it in any way. But if we do want to reply, may I suggest one of the following…

a. ” There is no point. There never has been nor will there ever be. Only fools seek a point. ”

b. ” I do it as therapy. Let me tell you about my illness. Have you an hour? Come close and I will stimulate you. ”

c. ” You can’t see a point? Oh, dear. Not had much to do with art, then, eh? ”

d. ” You’d like to buy my  models/toys/figurines/diorama? Well why didn’t you say so? Don’t be shy. For you –  a special price –  $ 1500. Now don’t be a piker…no-one likes a cheap-arse. Let’s see the colour of your money…”

Most bullies never expect the victim fight back. If you are ready with a faster, funnier, firmer response than they can deal with, you have them on the run. When you see them sheer off and try to run for it, pursue them. You have the entire support of the Little World behind you.