Things I Never Write About

While I have treated of many topics here on ” Here All Week ” over the past six years, there are some that I do not deal with. Others may approach them, but I do not feel myself qualified to comment. Certainly I do not think I could make things better.

a. Suicide.

I have known a number of suicides in the last few decades. All of them had a history of distress, but few of their acquaintances knew to what depth it went. Two instances were reported truthfully, and one was clothed in deception.  One I have decided to believe the report, though I strongly suspect it. In the end it is all the same.

b. Adultery.

Is that still a thing? It would be for me, but I may be living in a parallel universe. I should not know how to deal with it, in any case.

c. Family abuse.

I recoil from it when I hear, and wish never to hear more…but for the sake of the victims, there are occasions when it should be boldly and openly discussed. I can offer cake and sympathy but sometimes I have no idea what to say. Have some more cake…

d. Extremist politics and religion.

I can stand a certain amount of Trump-bashing or Morrison-bashing before I react, and the reaction is mild anyway. I also grit and grim ( as opposed to grip and grin ) when I see racism, sinophobia, or xenophobia tricked up in pseudo patriotism and generally just let it through to the keeper…in the knowledge that no-one wants to keep it anyway. I am inclined to ignore ignorance.

I do not react well in other areas – when someone decides to be anti-Semitic or anti-American thinking it to be kewl. But I have been able to rein in my replies reasonably well – the 30-day snooze button on Facebook has been a godsend. But, like a snooze button on a clock radio, you can only press it so many times before you decide to just unplug the damn thing and throw it away.

Note: I am more aware these days of the psychological consequences of associating with idiots and ratbags, and seek to reduce this to a minimum. If Facebook friends are still able to read this as a shared message, they may take it as a favourable endorsement of their characters. Otherwise…





The Tube Of Toothpaste

If you would like to increase the happiness in your life, get a tube of toothpaste. Or of strawberry jam, haemorrhoid cream, or any other semi-solid commodity. The actual contents are not important – it is the delivery system.

Take the top off and squeeze a little – and a little useful product comes out. Whether you spread it on your teeth, toast, or tush is up to you, but observe that after you squeeze, the tube gets a little smaller and a little wrinkled. Continue squeezing and eventually it is all out.

And at this point the company that sold you that tube is not required under any law of the universe to refill it at their expense. You go buy another tube.

So it is with employers, acquaintances, friends, and relations. They can squeeze you like that tube – and out comes money, work, possessions, attention, praise, and any other useful thing that you might contain. And just like the toothpaste tube, one day they will squish the last drop of whatever out of you.

And you’re not required by law to instantly refill yourself for them.

If you’re a wise toothpaste tube you’ll have noticed what was going on long before this point – and you might decide that you don’t want to be flat and empty. That’s the time to clog your nozzle. Then you can preserve some of your self-esteem for yourself. And the user can go out looking for another toothpaste tube.

And at that point you are entitled to insist that they put the cap back on.

The Give And Take Of Club Life – Part Three

I was tossing up whether to subtitle this one ” Or How I Learned To Find The Worm In The Apple ” but I’ve promised myself to adopt a happier mien in the future. And worms are generally useful protein – look at how cheerful robins are.

Every club I’ve ever belonged to had good times and bad times. With luck, many more of the former than the latter. Social outings, camps, friendships, achievements…all to the good. Activities that could not be undertaken alone – theatrical performances, sporting contests, trips and adventures – all very much to the good.

The bad? Well, personalities that clashed. Occasional financial hurt. Anxious moments of varying intensity. But there was never any official discouragement from the societies themselves – and indeed all of them were conducted on a club level with an eye to harmony. It was just the human element.

Every club needs members to put in something. It might be money, attendance, teaching, physical work, administration, or enthusiasm. Some can do all of these – frequently all at the same time – and should be rewarded with authority, responsibility, and the gratitude of the general membership. Those who can put in less should still do so but recognise that their share of the success of the venture is proportionately smaller. They should also quietly acknowledge to themselves that they occupy a smaller place in the minds of others.

As far as demanding things from a club…well demanding anything is a precarious business. ” Demand and be damned. ” is a pretty hard statement to get over  – whether it comes from a club official or other members. You can’t have it your way all the time.

Gifts, on the other hand, are a wonderful thing. They come unbidden and unexpected, and certainly endear the organisation to the recipient. I’ve been in that position myself several times and am grateful for the regard of my friends. My studio is air-conditioned upon club  kindness and I will ever acknowledge that.


Le Coup – Quatrième Colonne

The social cut is so long-standing as to have gathered a set of rules governing its use. They are as useful today as they were in the 18th and 19th century – people may have cars, computers, and cash these days but they are basically the same inside as they always were. If you doubt this get an old copy of Gray’s Anatomy and a scalpel, but don’t blame me if the police intervene.

a. Le coup absolu is a direct confrontation between two people where one does not acknowledge the other in any way. It can be devastatingly insulting and if seen by others, socially demeaning.

b. This form of cut must be deliberate and obvious to the victim.

c. Gentlemen must never cut a lady.

d. Unmarried ladies are not to cut married ladies.

e. The social cut cannot be employed within military or naval circles. While this is not a rule adhered to entirely, the good of the service requires that all instances of it are either suppressed or addressed.

f. Hosts cannot cut their guests.

g. Cuts cannot be done indiscriminately or for light purpose. They could have serious consequences for both parties – if between equals the cut may provoke a challenge and if between disparate classes it might redound badly. Some social cuts destroy careers and marriages.

There is little enough general society these days – the class system having realigned itself around money rather than birth – and the population having grown so much as to diffuse contact and/or interest. People can get fame or notoriety, but it is rare that enough people focus upon them long enough to grant them real respectability. To get this, one must go into the smaller divisions of organisation – the social club, the hobby group, the sporting association. You might even need to go down as close as the family before you find respect or notice.

Thus the loss of social status that someone who was snubbed might have felt in 1850 does not generally exist now. It might still be operating for someone who has been suspected of a major crime but has escaped conviction – they may find themselves refused entry to the social scene they once frequented. People might avoid them in public. They might find that their careers are blighted. The curse of widespread modern communication and the free interchange of information might also mean that they cannot find rest or respect elsewhere. Mind you, Cain had his problems too…

But snubbing, cutting, and general exercise of hubris may backfire. The story of Beau Brummel’s snubbing by the Prince Regent is well documented in Wikipedia. It notes the reasons why it was done and his rather foolish reaction – judge for yourself when you read it. The Prince Regent was seen as abusing his power and Brummel had enough social steam to ride it out. Of course Brummel’s own lifestyle could never be sustained and he was lost to France and debt…but take it as a lesson to be careful who you cut and why. If you do it unnecessarily you do it wrong.




” Fix Not That Which Doth Not Need It “

” For verily, I say unto thee, that thou wilt be sorry. That which hath not been put asunder up until now need not be fiddled with.  For lo – things will shoot out of the inside of the mechanism and roll under the fridge and thou shalt curse the heavens.”

Oh if only I had heeded the holy text. I would not have attempted to cure the floor lamp of its permanent lean and I would not have destroyed it in the process. We would still have light, if at an angle. Now we have an even and oppressive darkness in the corner…and the prospect of an equally oppressive journey to the furniture shop to get another lamp.

It was not an expensive thing…and the internal construction of it was in keeping with this. The lean was caused by the base crumbling, and really there was no cure possible…but it could have kept on leaning for months had I not commenced treatment. It was well enough and needed a dose of leaving alone.

I shall take the hint. There are a number of little things that have been niggling at me around the house and shop. I will look very closely at them now and see if they really do need human intervention, or whether they are just a natural feature of the landscape…

Postscript: The lamp was replaced by a similar item from IKEA – to my immense satisfaction. But I am still not going to attempt to retile the sofa myself…



Our new kitchen is getting built. The team doing it is at the stage of screwing cabinets together. But to get to this point, they have had to hammer, saw, and chisel the old kitchen out.

It is not the sort of thing that you want to see happening. I’ve done my share of demolition, but it was always on someone else’s property or anatomy, and there was a certain degree of dispassion about it. Not when it is your house…

So far only a few surprises, and most of them pleasant. Only a couple of delays, and they can be side-stepped. I am closeted in the computer room trying not to hear what is going on, and failing. I am pleased that I cannot offer any actual physical assistance that would be helpful, as it prevents me from giving the other sort.

We dine out, not in, for the next few days.

Taking Back Life – Part One – How Many Friends?

Is your life shared with people on the internet? Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account on your computer, mobile phone, or tablet that keeps you in touch with people –  people you normally wouldn’t touch with a barge pole? Welcome to the modern world.

As a child, I had two parents, three grandparents, fifteen cousins, and about six friends in my home town. That’s 26 people with whom to interact – some on a regular basis, and some at intervals as long as 5 years. I managed to be happy and fulfilled with the amount of approval that they gave me and coped with any other treatment in the meantime.

Of course there were acquaintances and school companions, but they shifted and faded as the years went by. I can remember them via school yearbooks, but find evidence of only two of them in public records via Google. The relatives fare even worse…I had to do a thorough analysis of one picture before I could convince myself the person in it was a cousin. Heaven knows where the rest are…

Now, with FB and other accounts – as well as the WordPress connection – I seem to have gathered 1200 souls into the iMac. I know some of them personally, and some merely by screen. Some are a complete mystery, and some a complete pain, but I am too polite to wave them away in case they are offended by it.

The most frightening thing is finding a day in which all my intellectual contact and stimulation comes through that screen – and not through human conversation or serious reading. I’ve no-one to blame but myself for that isolation – though the distances we travel in this town to meet each other are sometimes excessive considering the short period that we are in each other’s company.

I really do have to consider whether I am getting the best out of my time by following these social sites so slavishly. It may be time to trim down the Facebook contact pool and ditch the Instagram. And go find real people in real time.