Thank You, Tourist Driver

And I am not being sarcastic when I  write this – thank you indeed for being who you are, doing what you do, on our freeways.

You are slower than the rest of the entitled aristocrats in their Audis and angry tradies in their tray top Toyotas. You are in the left-hand lane, and about 10 KPH below the speed limit. You are doing the sort of speed I want to drive at, and you are a convenient haven.

I can tuck in behind you and look as if I am caught by your slow speed. In reality, I am slipstreaming you and would not pull out to overtake for quids. You are doing what I want to do. If you are driving a Bayswater Hire Car, so much the better. Your inexpertise advertises itself and takes the blame off me.

Please continue. I shall not flash my lights or toot my horn.

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An Australian Brag

If you were born in Australia you have been subject to The Brag all your life. If you emigrated here you picked it up as soon as your feet touched the ground. Either way, it has become so engrained that you would be hard pressed to notice it.

The Brag? Well, it really involves a lot of Sub-Brags. We’ve just had this year’s April 25th Brag. We’ll have more Brags whenever the cricket starts up again and all through the football season. If a local cinema actor is nominated for an award…indeed if anyone is recognised with some sort of gong, we’ll add another Brag.

And we are just about to have a federal election – Federal parliament will be replacing its House and Senate members in the next month or so. And it is time for the Election Brag. And I’m proud to be able to enunciate it:

The Federal Election will be honest.

The individual members of both houses that contest the seats, their advisers, and their party organisers may have consciences that could be used to scrub pots…their parties may be collections of bigots, zealots, and ne’er do wells – they may have devious money-grubbing  schemes…but…

The Federal Election will be honest.

No stuffed ballot boxes, no stand over militias, no bought votes, no midnight disappearances. No seizures of power. No bribing of judges. No tanks, armoured cars, or riot police. No burning buses. No dead people.

Instead, we’ll get a huge ballot paper, a tiny pencil, and a funny little cardboard booth to figure it all out in. Our choice will be complex to make and be tabulated in a complex fashion – but it will be done cleanly. Some electorates will declare quickly and there’ll always be one at the end that takes jolly weeks. If some mistake happens that results in the loss of a ballot box, there will be a by-election for that seat and it will all clank through again.

We’ll all get a vote and our vote will count. We’re the luckiest damn country in the world for this – because we can buy barbecued sausages and lemon slices and scones to eat while we are waiting to vote. And smarmy Facebook memes that suggest our vote is worthless are a damned insult us and to something this country does very right.

 

” What, Actually, IS Your Hobby…? “

Darned good question.

I’ve asked it of myself for about 6 decades – ever since I discovered that things you like to do are a hobby and things you don’t like to do are a chore. I’ve tabulated the former and latter and I’m happy to say that the first outnumbers the last – so I have a credit in my fun account.

How do you know when a mere experience or activity becomes a hobby? When you devote more than a half hour a day to it – this can be accumulated over a week to 3.5 hours or more and spent all in one go – attendance at a hobby club or social circle, for instance. The most it can be accumulated is a month –  14 hours  – and then it must be discharged.

Can a chore be a hobby? Only if you are very lucky or very unfortunate. That old saw about doing what you love so that you never work a day is somewhat true, but like all old saws gets rusty and loses teeth eventually. I know people whom I suspect have never worked a day in their lives because the thing the dearly love to do is sponge off others. That’s not a hobby – it’s a crime.

Can hobbies be fluid? Yes, and if the fluid you choose is brandy, don’t expect to get much done in the evening. But you can change from one hobby to another quite legally. It is not so easy in practical terms, however.

Hobbies cost money, time, and social effort. If you design to change, you are going to have to do something about the past expenditure you will be foregoing and the remnants of the thing. You may have left over equipment, projects, and people who are still valuable… And you’ll find it hard to give up valuables.

The thing to do is to meld – make one hobby flow into another. Take some of the gear and investment in whatever you did before and make it do now. Carry people over from one social group to another – the ones you value – and you’ll find that they are still a delight.

And occasionally you can return to an abandoned hobby and take it up again – it will be all the sweeter for the rediscovery.

 

It Is Good To Fail Occasionally

I never thought I would be making a statement like that…it sounds vaguely memetic and that is really only one letter removed from emetic. But I have made a few blunders and errors in the last few months that have given me to think.

When I am riding high and doing all the things I want to, it all gets too seductive. I start to get arrogant and flippant with others. They generally don’t know it as I keep it to myself, but it still poisons my perceptions – both of them and of myself. I need a little failure to remind me that I am, as stated before, a plain bun.

Fortunately no-one got hurt and nothing got spoiled by my mistakes. It was a nuisance, but not a disaster. And I can do something that mends the faults in the future. I can also be darned grateful that the times when I really did mess up either did not get noticed or go through to completion. I think I got saved by a number of bells.

Here’s a final thought to send you all off thoughtfully sucking on the end of either a pen or a dagger – we often make ” B-for-Bucket ” lists of things we want to do in life to tease ourselves into action. Or we make ” F” lists to tell us things we do not want to do or people we don’t want to deal with. All good so far. We’re about as likely to follow one list as the other…

But how about making an” M ” list for yourself – call it a Muckit list – a list of mistakes that you have made in your life. You can make it as vague or as specific as you like, but when you’ve got the first part you should make a matching section that tells you what you’ve learned from each blunder.

Like the “B ” and ” F ” lists, the ” M ” list should be strictly hidden and kept a secret from everyone else. If they are going to see anything, let them see you getting better and better for a mysterious reason.

I Must Have The Wrong Post Office

I read repeated complaints about our postal service – Australia Post. As well as the loss of posted items there is the performance of the delivery service and the terrible manners of the counter staff in the actual post offices. Social media are rife with angst. Yet I seem to have missed out.

I deal with my local post office agency in a small shop in Bull Creek Shopping Centre. It is a dedicated affair – not shared with a newsagency or other business. The staff seem a constant lot – it may be that they are members of a family.

I buy stamps, CD mailers, envelopes, and pay many of my bills over their counter. They are efficient, cheerful, and invariably polite. We exchange ” Good Morning  ” greetings and please and thank you as a matter of course. They are extremely obliging about helping me to fill out any overseas forms needed if there is unusual postage required.

If this same family were to migrate to another business I would follow them there for the level of kindness and civility that they show.

And I do not have any trouble with postal deliveries either.

The Better Sort of Reader…

The better sort of reader – the finer mind – the upper class – will know what correct behaviour is. They will have learned it at their mother’s knee…in some cases bent over that joint while being beaten with a length of steel reinforcing rod. They will know what to say and what to do…and more importantly, what not to say or do. And when not to say and do it. This knowledge is the touchstone by which they can know who the under-classes are.

For instance, when encountering alcoholic beverages – whether they are being handed round at the vicarage garden tea or pushed over a bar in Carlton. The low instinct is to grab the nearest foaming beaker and drain  it. The proper person knows that there is only one course of action here – you must produce a substantial hatchet, cry ” Carry Nation Lives “, and stave in the beer barrels with it. Wear clean gloves.

And again – who amongst us has not been present when someone – often us – has been discovered in flagrante delicto, so to speak. Pants down and hopes up, if you get my drift. The discovery, to be truly flagrante has to be done by someone in authority – the wife, husband, lover, police sergeant, etc. No good being popped by the cook. Cooks don’t care.

What is the correct procedure? Take a hint from the golf course – carry through with the swing. Step back politely if the following party is in a hurry, but do keep you eye on the hole.

As far as disputes in the wider world, remember that there is no such thing as being wrong commercially. Not if you want to keep the flow of money going. Always defer to the other person, even if they insist on deferring to you. If necessary, cripple them with a boot-strike to the instep and force your deferral upon them. Be humble and take no prisoners while you do it.

Boy! I Say, Boy!

A recent Facebook conversation raised the subject of retail shopping and the interaction between customers and staff. In particular, the first greetings and subsequent conversation. As we’ve all been either a customer or a staff member at some time, we all know the sounds…and the fury.

a. ” How ya Goin’, Guys? ”

This is a fine staff greeting if you are a dignified 60+ senior sales consultant approaching elderly ladies in an up-market and elegant shop. It’ll really strike a chord with them and lead to them making many expensive purchases.

Actually, you’ll be lucky not to get the point of a parasol in your eye.

b. ” Sup, Dudes? ”

This is even better. Only this one you use on the 15-year-old customer. The fact that you are dressed in a three-piece suit of cavalry twill and look like a British Major of Guards makes the sound and words even better. The youth will not be able to equate the experience with the visual and may fall gibbering to the floor. Call the clean-up crew to aisle 4.

c. ” May I help thee, Friend? ”

In Pennsylvanian Dutch neighbourhoods this would pass unnoticed. In Perth it is noticed…but the customer may not know what to do with it. It is particularly amusing for the Asian client, as it crosses a number of cultural barriers in several directions at the same time.

Thou must be consistent with thy use of the language and are honour-bound to be kind, helpful, and cheerful whilst thee are doing it. If thou hast a full beard but a shaven upper lip the effect is particularly good. Female staff may wish to wear a poke bonnet and an apron whilst serving.

d. ** Click. Click. Snap. Snap. **

The sound of South African or South Asian fingers doing the ” Come Hither ” song. It is one of the folk-dances of their cultures – but one that the Department of Immigration has failed to confiscate from them at the airport.

In their home countries it is used to summon and ginger up the coloured servants. If the snapper is also coloured, it is used on their lower-caste compatriots. Presumably it works, and probably has a counterpart when there is a motor car involved. Horn tooting.

Here in Australia it can call forth some amazing responses on the part of shop staff. Perhaps the kindest is to waggle the forefinger in the South America ” NoNoNoNo ” gesture and simple say ” That is not done here in Australia. ” Or one can break into an impromptu flamenco dance with continued finger popping and a final ” Ole! “.

e. ” Boy! ”

Also an overseas specialty, but can be seen to cut closer to the bone and to spill more blood. It is particularly dangerous when black people are involved in the conversation on either side.

The only really effective counter is to immediately effect a Steppin Fetchit shuffle and a ” Yassuh, Boss ” accent and overplay the comic coon by about 560%. If you can do this while being an elderly white person dressed in a suit you will create a deserted zone that makes Ground Zero at Alamogordo look like an ant farm. A little soft shoe shuffle never goes amiss…

f. ” May I offer some assistance, Sir…( or Madam )? ”

Speak softly. Smile. Be courteous. Behave as a lady or a gentleman would behave. It is a position from which you need never resile.

Note: If you are a customer and respond to this treatment by being polite, kind, and courteous in return, you will discover that the transaction will be made very much to your benefit. And you will be treated extremely well on every time you return. The staff do remember.