Damn You, World Leaders!

I used to have a pretty good corner on the local cynicism market when I worked behind a retail counter. I could size up a customer in four seconds and predict what would come out of their mouth…And make the rest of the staff laugh until they were ill into their paper lunch bags or the till.

Now you have blown this to pieces. No longer can I shock or amuse when you have topped nearly everything I ever did, and continue to do even worse each day. I cannot possibly compete with Trump and Trudeau, and now even Boris Johnson is doing it in his retirement.

Boris. A man burdened with the name of a cartoon Russian spy name, plus a body and  head of hair that was God’s gift to cartoonists, thinks the moslem burqua is a bad look. You couldn’t write this stuff and sell it to the Three Stooges – they’d turn it down as too slapstick.

I’m not in favour of the garment as such but then my objection is that it is too much confined to the one sex – if the males of the tribe were similarly swathed and hidden I would say fine. Or ditch the black lump look and substitute exotic and bright colours and designer patterns. If they must make themselves look like a bolt of cloth at least make it the fancy stuff.

But back to the world leaders. I think we miss out on a lot of good stuff by being Euro and American-centric in the news coverage. I’ll bet there are some wise and wonderful statesmen ( oops, statespeople. Sorry, Justin. ) in the various dictators, theocrats, plutocrats, autocrats, and kleptocrats of the other continents. We just need to have them on the telly regularly. And not just when they are being tried – before that, when they are reviewing the troops or beating the recalcitrants.

 

Advertisements

Giving The Flick

You read yesterday’s column? The one about getting the flick, and how to deal with it? Welcome to this morning, when you’ll find out how to give the flick.

Oh, for the record – the flick is a term for arrogant dismissal. It is also the brand name for a pesticide, though it is not considered a good idea to spray people with it as a form of social dismissal.

So, based upon that definition, why would you give someone the flick?

a. You are insecure in yourself and wish to appear more powerful, cool, entitled, etc than you really are. If you give someone the flick you can pretend to a superior place in the social order.

b. You are a cruel and arrogant person, and need an outlet for these traits.

c. You are frightened of someone and need to keep them away from you.

d. The flickee is a person with horrible, terrible, inconvenient, or disturbing characteristics.

e. No-one is looking at you and you would like them to. Time to show your power.

Few of these are good reasons, but they are all real reasons, as your experience in life will confirm. While this column cannot make you a better person than you are already, it can suggest ways in which you can disguise the truth about you. Not to yourself, mind, but to other people.

a. Do not flick at all. Glide away yourself from unwanted encounters with the most grace that you can manage. If grace involves jinking violently and emitting smoke, so be it.

b. Flick dramatically. Rage, scream, throw yourself on the floor. Howl imprecations at the flickee until they run terrified. Foam. Break a blood vessel in your eye. Thrash about until you have to be restrained.

It is one of the kindest things you can do for them as it will excuse them from feeling as though they were in the wrong or that they have lost a valuable friend. They will avoid you like the plague in the future, and any number of people will join them.

c. Flick in the kindliest manner possible. Set your victim down on a soft chair. Bring them tea and biscuits. Express your regret at having to leave them. Then leave them.

In the end, there is no act of Congress, Parliament, or Synod that can compel you to a friendship against your will. You are required to be civil and lawful to all, but you are allowed to set out your circle of affection to suit yourself. Draw the circle wisely.

 

Getting The Flick

A friend once commented on Facebook about getting the flick socially, so I thought I’d address the topic. I, too, have gotten the flick on a number of occasions and can help with navigating the situation.

a. We will all get the flick at some stage of the game – regardless of how sociable, kind, worthy, honest, lovable, etc that we are. We can take some comfort in the reflection that we will also get it if we are mean, spiteful, vulgar, rude, dangerous, or smelly. The thing is not predicated upon our worth – it is independent of us.

b. We will sometimes get the flick when we are most sensitive…and we will feel it acutely. On other occasions it will pass unnoticed and we’ll be surprised by it years later. When someone cuts us but we do not wince or bleed it takes away a great deal of the significance of the act.

c. Sometimes other people notice the event and look carefully at us to see our reaction. At other times, they fail to see it entirely. The only significance of this is the encouragement it gives us not to notice the flick either.

d.  The flick can be casual or studied. If we are of no value to the flicker, it will be the first sort – if we are essential to them and they want to make sure that we are hurt, it will be the second. The deliberate flick, however, can be disguised to appear of no consequence.

Therein lies the best counter to it all. If someone essays to hurt you and you do not appear to be hurt, they are mired in frustration. Worse – if you are gracious to them, they are in a bad position themselves. Kindliness and polite attention can have roughly the same penetrating power as a 17 pounder anti-tank shell.

e. The flick only lasts as long as it is noticed. When it is forgotten it will either need to be repeated with more emphasis ( dangerous ) or lost forever. Old flicks are like the hollow shells of insects that you find under the sofa – you sweep them away without further interest.

 

 

” Are You The Owner Of The Computer? “

Are any of us really owners of the computer? Or are just lessees? Worse, are we servants of it, rather than owners?

I am drawn to this reflection by a pleasant young lady with a sub-continental accent who seems to ring every few days from a windows technical department. I’m not sure which window company she represents – we had ours done some 35 years ago by Westral and they’ve held up very well. Only had one pane has broken and that was fixed promptly.

I suppose she wants to make sure that I can receive advertisements for their blinds and curtains. I was polite and told her that the owner of the computer was unavailable – she was equally polite and wished me a good night. I look forward to her next call, which I’m sure will be at dinner time again…

How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

Serious Thoughts Upon The Death Of A Business

I have been a customer of one particular business here in Perth since the day after I arrived in Australia in 1964. When we flew in we were taxied from the airport to a hotel and deposited to slough off our jet lag. As the parents sat there comatose trying to focus upon a pay television with the Tokyo Olympic Games on it, I lit out for a hobby shop.

I had seen it as we came past on the way to the hotel. As a kid I had a sure instinct for hobby shops and could spot them in any town we visited. It was a matter of some relief to find that the wilds of Perth were not so primitive that they could not afford one.

No kid assesses distance accurately – what I thought was four blocks turned out to be twenty-three, but I kept on walking. I was rewarded eventually with a house turned shop, several crammed rooms of kits, trains, planes, and toys, and a pleasant owner. I returned in the following weeks and bought a number of items, and took them off to our house in the hills. Later forays to Perth never actually got back to that location, but I discovered the four or five other hobby shops in the centre of the town that were accessible by railway.

Crikey – that’s over 50 years ago. The other shops have packed it in long ago – some to move to the suburbs and some to disappear forever. The original shop I visited moved to a railway suburb and kept there for 50 years…but I suspect it is now moribund. The location is perfect for them but their sales stock is depleted and their reputation dwindling away. They have been forced to become a tiny portion of their previous size and are fragmented.

Yet…They have a name that everyone remembers. Were they to relocate, restock, and promote themselves, I still think they could recover. Were they to combine with one of the other shops the whole town might benefit.

As for myself, however, I have a new shop a mile from my door on an easy road – with free parking out the front. I am a constant customer. Sentiment is one thing but practical life – even when it is a hobby – is another.

I suspect this might be the case for any number of other businesses in all forms of trade. People are spread out more in the Metro area – they are doomed to travel far longer distances to get the things they need from the disparate suppliers. Some have taken to the internet as a solution…but it isn’t. Others have just realised that a 30-mile round trip for a bottle of paint is just not practical.

Don’t Shoot The Wireless Broadcaster…

Because we aren’t playing the piano. We’re just the guys with the microphones and the transmitter.

The best of us plug the set in, turn it on, and stand back as the world makes its own noise. We pause every now and then to sell soap flakes or water pumps but even these are pre-made lies supplied to us by advertising agencies. We don’t add anything ourselves.

Of course the worst of us try to be the power behind the throne…to tell you who to vote for and scold you if you didn’t obey us. We’ve got a great deal of scolding power, as we are the ones with the microphones and the transmitters…as mentioned before.

But have a little sympathy here – The space behind the throne is rather crowded – we’re elbowing away university professors, multi-billionaires, and dubious reverend activists. Some of them have brought their followers with them and the sight is not pretty…neither are many of the followers. We are constantly bombarded with offers to buy our good opinion, but no-one seems to offer cash.

At least we have the Freedom Of The Press to protect us from the Freedom To Suppress . This latter freedom is most often exercised in Asian, African, and latin countries, as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and it is exercised by the people who are in power there.

Some say it makes a broadcaster’s job harder, but we find it can be soothing in many cases. It’s a lot easier to read a daily bulletin from The Ministry in a clean studio than to go out and ask awkward questions in a dirty street. Around about election/coup/succession time it can get a little iffy when you have to guess who will be holding the keys to the manacles for the next few years, but we find canned music and talk shows about preserving jams to be a great filler during the interim. ” A Walk In The Black Forest ” is a great tune to play at this time.

We have also been asked when we are going to bring back the good old serials to the air – those multi-part thrillers that depended upon great acting and superb sound effects to rivet the listener to the wireless at the same time each day for months. Actually we have been doing this for years, but disguising the things as news broadcasts. You thought those politicians you love or hate were real? Ha ha.