Reliving The Lives Of Someone Else’s Ancestors…

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.

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The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bead

The next best thing to sliced bread is not, as the advertisers would have you believe, a new electronic gadget or app. It is not an item of clothing or a kitchen appliance. It is cheese and pickle.

Thus another popular saying ( here in Australia ) goes for a Burton. North American readers can also go for a Burton but they’ll have to hunt out an English pub or beer shop to do it. Elizabeth Taylor went for a Burton…

Do you think that popular sayings and buzz-phrases are getting to be clichéd? You’re not wrong, Narelle. And we are being bombarded with more of them every day, thanks to the very screen you are looking at. They can become a burden after a while and we long for good old-fashioned communication like you got before the War. When men were men and women were women and the ABC announcers dressed up in suits and ties to read scripts over a radio microphone.

I think it is time to take back this level of earnestness and style. To re-assert the right of everyone to be elegant. Therefore:

a. Henceforth this column will be written while fully  the author is fully dressed. No more old green bathrobe and slippers. No more typing while wearing nothing but a wet towel. Or less.

b. No more buzz phrases – or at least none that are currently in use on Facetwit or that other slightly profane site; Instadamn.

c. All words will be correctly spelled and supplied in correct grammatical form. And the correct spelling may not be what the biased Spell Checker at the top of the WordPress menu would have it. I have been watching this suspect program and seen several howlers pass its scrutiny. It may be time to finally decide whether British English or American English is to prevail…though the Canadian compromise might be adopted for the sake of convenience. Whichever one is chosen, there will be protests from the grammatically arrogant.

d. Colourful local words and phrases like ” Crikey ” and ” Stone the crows ” will be permitted but must be put in the mouths of colourful locals. Direct quotes only, preferably from a scaffold.

e. I have no objection to foreign words creeping in as long as they then creep out again.

f. No-one would expect to have a brain surgeon or waist gunner perform their special tasks while eating a Subway  tuna-fish sandwich. Likewise the readers do not want their literature bedaubed with taco sauce or biscuit crumbs. Henceforth the desk will be cleared of plates while the column is being typed. This will have the added benefit of not requiring a new keyboard after Spaghetti Night.

g. I shall occasionally introduce a new word or phrase to cover a particular point of communication and then repeat it enough times over different platfoms to set it in the public mind. Most of this will be done in a spirit of jollity and kindness, with the appropriate amount of savagery. This process of forcing language upon the unwilling shall be known as motting the rubes.

I do not expect them to be grateful, but I shall be satisfied when they start doing it to each other.

A Gentle Thank-You

a. To people who read my weblog columns and get the humour. And laugh.

b. To people who read the columns and do not get them and then grumble. This gives me an opportunity for laughter.

c. To people who still talk to me.

d. To people who have cut me dead.

e. To people who read my material in hopes that I will get better at writing. If it is any consolation to you, I hope I will get better as well. If there was a spell-Check for thoughts I might have a chance.

f. To the people who make Facebook as crassly stupid as it is. They do not raise any faith in mankind, but they let me feel superior to something. Not quite as good as canned chili but better than a suggested post.

g. To people who do not tailgate me at dusk when I am in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. May your tyres always maintain pressure and your seatbelt never pinch.

h. To people who keep appointments.

i. To people who help me with technical enquiries – but only if they are right.

j. To people who speak loudly enough to be heard and slowly enough to be understood.

k. To people who do not bring takeaway containers of coffee out and sip while we are in conversation.

l. To waiters and waitresses who do not hover. If I want another beer I’ll call for it; if I want a helicopter I’ll call Sikorski.

m. To book store owners who put good things on remainders tables at low prices.

Watching Championship Stupid From The Sidelines

We all see foolish things done and exhibited on crass television shows. We see them on Facebook and YouTube. But nothing beats seeing them fresh, live, and right in front of you.

I don’t mean the car crashes and people hitting light poles – these are accidents of our modern life. I also exclude criminal behaviour and its consequences – also a feature of modern life, but one that can stay well away from me. I am thinking of the modest little instances of stupidity that pop up from time to time and make us grin.

Yesterday I visited our downtown area to do a job, and when it was completed I repaired to a bookstore and then to a rooftop bar for a bit of reading and refreshment. It was delightful, until the last inch of beer in the glass. Then tow families of bogans invaded the bar with their 5 squalling children – obviously hungry, overtired, and at the end of a school vacation. The bartender looked like the hatch of hell had opened at his feet; I hastily downed that last inch and dived for the door, pursued by rising screams.

There is a provision in Western Australian liquor laws for children to be on licensed premises under direct adult control for ” reasonable refreshment” but up two flights of stairs onto a city rooftop bar seems to stretch the case somewhat. I can only hope that the children got espresso martinis and red cordial and that the train back home was delayed between stations…

The Invisible Man Vs The Invisible Woman

Well, I looked as hard as I could, but I didn’t see anybody there.

I knew that they were fighting, or making love, or possibly doing laundry. There were a series of bumps and gurgles and at one point something viscous spilled on the floor. I decided that it would be more discreet to just leave and read about it in the newspaper next week.

That’s the problem with super-powers. They are bound to cause trouble sooner or later. The entire collection of Marvel and DC characters, together with the Japanese anime figures, seem to be incapable of living quiet lives. They are either fighting crime or committing it – and mostly to the detriment of the environment and people surrounding them. I cannot think of anything worse than being neighbour to a super hero or super villain. No matter what they did it would break fences and scatter the street’s rubbish on Bin Night. And you can just bet that it would never be during business hours – I’ve read enough Batman comics to know that whenever he roars out of the secret tunnel at 165 dB it is the middle of the night. Who sleeps?

The business of radioactivity and strange oriental poisons is another thing. I can take the average hazards of suburban life – the magpie swoops and the blood-and-bone fertilizer on the garden beds in Spring. The repeated attacks of the Mr Whippy van in summer. The drains backing up in winter. It is the price you pay for having a bit of space about you. But with a super-whatever on the street you are just as likely to glow in the dark, turn sterile, or keel over foaming and choking as soon as they open the basement vents. You can be certain that they have a secret laboratory down there because nothing grows in a radius of 50 metres of their property.

Of course there are those who say having a super-hero will be good because it means the neighbourhood is protected. What they don’t figure into the equation is the fact that the superhero attracts their opposing number 100% of the time and you end up avoiding two men in tights instead of just one.

I could actually enjoy super women in tights, but I’ve seen the muscles on some of them and I don’t think I would survive…

” Now Hear This ” – The BGA Cures The Ills Of The World

Well, we’ve got the BGA booths into the train stations, malls, hospital waiting rooms, and fish and chip shops – now what is going to happen?

People will line up to enter the booth – their gold coin in hand for when they want to get out again. They’ll enter the darkness, snuggle up to the speaking tube, and start to tell the world what they want the world to know.

Part of it will be confession – the murders, robberies, and lustful thoughts of the week. Part will be profession – who they hate – Donald Trump, the brother-in-law, etc. Some will take the opportunity to brag about the size of their private parts, and some will tell the truth – in neither case will anyone out in the waiting line believe a word of what they say.

The trained counsellor will interject with helpful things like ” My, my.” and ” Well, I’ll be darned, eh? ” or just sit there making soothing noises as the professor gets more agitated. If they are asked to forgive the professor they will do so immediately, knowing that everyone else in the surrounding area that has heard the news will be ready with cudgels and handcuffs as soon as the curtain slides back. No sense being judgemental when you don’t have to be.

There will be no penances awarded – people can leave the booth feeling cleansed and free. Of course they may then be collared by the police or attacked by an enraged mob, but that is no business of the BGA. We will only step in when someone admits to a fiscal sin that has resulted in the accumulation of a large amount of ill-gotten gain in a Swiss bank account. The only thing we need is the special number and then you will be free to go.

The effect of this open-ended opportunity to get it off your chest will be to free up the psyche of individuals and let them get on with their lives. Of course, some of the less cautious ones may be devoting a great deal of those lives to running and hiding, but then they would have been brought to that eventually. We give them a clean chance on the starting blocks.

But what if you do not have any sins? Or any money, for that matter – is the BGA booth going to be any use to you? You bet it is – and you’ll read about that in our final chapter tomorrow.

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – A Guide To Salvation Through Publicity

We mentioned the Catholic confessional yesterday but forgot to say that it is considered to be a sacrosanct thing. The admissions that people make in there are generally supposed not to be blabbed about by the priests. This has lead to a number of melodramatic Hollywood movies and even more melodramatic government enquiries and media reports all over the world. And that has given the BGA an idea.

We are going to introduce a variation upon the institution of the confessional but with a few operational differences:

a. The BGA version will be available in more places – not confined to the premises of a church or cathedral. BGA booths will be set up in railway stations, shopping malls, and sports arenas. In country towns they will be attached to the pub or the petrol station. The Guild has a long-term aim to make sure that no Australian is more than 500 metres from a BGA booth wherever they live in the country.

b. BGA booths will be manned by a trained counsellor, though in some cases the training that they have received may be in naval gunnery, bartending, or double-entry book keeping. In any case they will be people who are prepared to sit there and listen. They will be paid, of course.

c. The booths will be properly curtained, with a darkened interior and a grillwork between the impenitent and the professor – we’ve learned that much psychology from the church. People will only start talking when they feel safe. Or when they are full of sodium pentothal. Curtains are cheaper than hypodermics.

d. The booths will have an internal sound tube and megaphone attached so that the sounds created inside are amplified and sent out over the surrounding area. We were contemplating a modern microphone/amplifier/speaker system but the technical experts pointed out that the power requirements and maintenance would make this impractical – certainly if we are to have a large network.  And the costs involved would push the project well over budget.

e. There will be no time limits set upon the BGA booths – neither frequency of attendance nor time inside speaking into the tube. There will be a hook provided in the counsellor’s tool kit to allow them to remove people who are just in there sleeping or making a nuisance of themselves. In really troublesome areas no seating will be provided apart from a central spike.

f. Most of the BGA booths will have a charity box attached to them. It will swing in on a steel hinge once the curtain is pulled across and will not swing back out of the way until a gold coin is dropped into the slot. There are fishooks set in the slot of the box to make sure that voluntary contributions go in and not out.

But enough of the mechanics of the booths. Read tomorrow to see how the BGA professional will help the people.