When Someone Does Something Right

When someone does something wrong, you have the right to point it out. You can do this in a neutral way or with a great deal of angst and  contempt. This is a free country and you’re allowed a certain degree of malice…as long as you do not overstep yourself into threat or defamation. Generally firearms are not allowed, though you can try to get away with an thrown egg if you think you are young enough and entitled enough. Be careful – magistrates have bad days too, and are empowered to hand them on in thirty-day parcels…

That you make yourself noticeable while doing this is a matter of course, but hardly anyone really will take note. That’s the nature of humans.

But also consider that while you have a right to ridicule, you also have a right to praise…and if you withhold a good word when someone deserves it, you are also guilty of a breach of manners. It may not suit your disposition to be fair to those you hate, but others are watching and can indeed see if you are acting with bias or bigotry.

Being forced to be fair is an awkward thing…better to do it voluntarily.

Do Not Fear Me

For I am not fearful. The smile is real, and conceals nothing but the back of the teeth and a fair few fillings.

Do not praise me, because I am not praiseworthy…or at least not for the things that you think. If I need praise I can do it myself.

Do not be my enemy – because we are judged on the quality of our enemies, and you may not measure up.

Do not try to seduce me with offers of commercial sales. I have all the goods I need. If you offer to buy some of them off me we can talk, provided you are willing to load them on the back of your truck yourself. I don’t do heavy lifts.

Please do not sell me a plan or a program. I’ve had many plans in the past and have learned to be wary – some are futile con games that take my money and leave me disappointed…and some come to glorious fruition. Of the two results, the first is a lot easier to bear.

I can always be purchased with coffee, tea, and cakes. I am not greedy and I do not slurp or drop crumbs. The quality of my interest in your problems is directly proportional to the quality of the coffee and cake. Barista special and rich fruit cake will enlist my deepest sympathy – a plastic cup of Pablo and Nice biscuit will get you what you deserve…

And never be afraid to ask me for money – make the sum as grand as you wish. I shall be equally brave in my refusal, and the higher the demand, the greater the saving. You may be treated to a hollow laugh and a hearty handshake or vice versa.




Salute The Quarterdeck

There is  slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.

If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…

Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…

I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.

In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.


” You’re Behind The Times “

Wait. Does that mean I’m not up to date with the current memes and buzz words? Or that I’m actually responsible for the world’s political and economic mess?  Make yourself clear.

It’s certainly true to say that I look with fondness upon the manners and mores of previous generations. And in some cases that goes a long way back. I’m not going to say I support slavery or witch burning, but I do like the idea of following the basic structure of Georgian England…as long as I can be upper or middle class. I should make a decent gentleman… if I could get the wool.

As far as being party to the latest on-trend socially-influenced electronic micro-meme, I must regretfully decline. I have seen the things that the social media put up as hip, hep, and high fashion and I really want none of them. So little actually resonates with life and good manners. I don’t deny social media writers the right to be crass, stupid, and ridiculous, but I refuse to reward them with praise for it. Be foul, but be prepared to be called out.

I’ve tried living in the past before – wearing the clothing of long-dead periods and sometimes even practicing the manners of the past. Most of it didn’t succeed – but there was always a core of good behaviour that was timeless. Stick to that and every age, as well as every culture, is open to you.

Note: As far as being guilty of whatever new social crime you would like to invent, I not only refuse to plead, but I refuse to even consider you to be an accuser, let alone judge. Do yourself a favour and don’t attract my attention. You wouldn’t like me when I am kind…

The Secret Of Serenity

I spoke with a friend recently and the conversation turned to calmness and serenity in life. I was immensely flattered to hear that she thought I was serene and patient as I’d been working frantically to foster this impression. And I was bursting for it to prove a success…

Well, am I serene? And patient? And all the other good things that gurus seem to charge $ 39.95 plus postage for? Or am I just slow-witted and miss most of what goes on?

The answer to these questions is yes. Patient, serene, slow-witted, and devious. The last quality is not often talked about, but can be just as useful as the other three. You just need to know how to apply them – how and when. As with all good comedy acts it all comes down to timing and inflection. Consider:

You will meet irritating situations and people every day – but you will rarely meet them all day. At some point of time even the worst bogan pest will wander off, if only to piss on a tree. You can use the interval to make your escape – the tree is not as fortunate.

People can be kind, pleasant, and helpful to you all the time if you are so with them. If not, you are amongst the wrong people – and the continuation of unpleasantness is a signal to move away. Only rarely will it follow and eventually if you go to good places bad people will stay away. Think of the road rager who bullies people on the road – they do not do so in the forecourts of police or bus stations. They rarely do so when filmed.

Help yourself out by sitting and thinking about who you are and how you could be a lady or a gentleman. If you don’t know how to do it, get a book on etiquette, manners, civil society, etc. Read it and see if any of the things that were done in the old days can be done now – with benefit. They need not be as complex as court procedure for investiture or a religious ritual. They can be as simple as opening door for a lady, tipping a hat upon meeting someone, speaking courteously…or listening attentively. Done well, they calm you and lift the situation. They make you master or mistress of the meeting.

Sound old-fashioned? Think you’ll be laughed to scorn? Try it. Take your hat off to a lady, or upon entering a structure. Give way courteously to people on the bus. Greet the bus driver, postal clerk, and shop assistant with a ” Good Morning ” and a smile. You may not get one in return but as a lady or gentleman you are above distress – and you may find that you are treated better for the cheerfulness you show.

Civility is the basis of everything. Add politeness and do better. And kindness and do best.

And if all else fails, empty your revolver into the closest threat.



I Wish To Use Fowle Language

Bad language has been the bane of my life.

Whether it was having my mouth washed out with soap ( one time only – I learned…) or watching as a look of horror passed over listeners when I let out a floater, the business of dirty words has always served me ill. Some cultures refer to this as swearing, some call it cursing – But there seems to be some portion of speech that is wrong no matter what language is being used. There were days when I could do it by saying ” Hello “.

I know quite a few bad words. Some of them are anatomical, some are irreligious, and some are connected with contempt and defiance. There’s a good deal of sex in there, from many angles. But I increasingly find myself hesitant to use them – they never seem to have a good effect….upon others or myself.

I used to think this distaste was an age thing…that I came from a time when good language outweighed the bad. But then I realised that the bad new words I know were taught to me in the good old days. And I’ve also met people my own age who lard every conversation with them. This generally just makes them sound foolish and crude.

Of course folly and vulgarity need not be the province of the elderly. Those same foul words in young mouths have an equally repulsive sound – superadded to which is the squeak of the puppy and the quick glance to see if the speaker has been judged to be kewl and edgy. I regard it as a signal to leave and seek better companionship.

But occasionally emotion and circumstance demand something be said  – if only to draw attention to an injustice or some emphatic point to be taken. We do need words for this. I think we should dip back into some of the Elizabethan pot for our curses. ” Rump-fed Ronyon ” is always good. ” Catamite ” another.

If you would use medical terms, call someone a walking gleet. Or a recurrent wen.

I have had occasion to use the Victorian mode of speech and to desire that someone go to another place and do another thing. And they did…it’s all in your tone of voice.

Is the Washing Done?

I’m pleased to be able to say that my wife and I do not stink. It’s safe to stand next to us in lifts and bus shelters. Sometimes we are even fragrant, in a good sense – if the bath soap is fresh or if we have been dusting with Mr. Sheen. In any case we could be retailed in the flowers section of the nursery, rather than with the fertiliser.

Such doesn’t seem to be the case with some I meet. I’m not sure if my own olfactory senses are highly tuned or just adjusted to our house…but there are folks in shops and on public transport that would set gas gongs ringing in the trenches. And not all are knights of the road, either.

I’ll forgive the harried mum with the incontinent toddler – we’ve all been there when someone’s done that and we’ve been unable to escape. The only thing to be grateful for, besides an open window, is that the infant is not a small elephant.

I’ll forgive the down and out bum – the street hobo who can barely survive, let alone keep clean. There, but for the grace of God, go any of us…

But I’m red-hot incensed at the twenty or thirty-something who just doesn’t bother to wash, shave, or change clothing before they come out. Their choice if they want to be passed by, but if they want to do it as a stink, they can stay home and stew there.