Oh, The Indignity…

I have been undignified all my life. In some instances it was just small and hardly noticeable – in others massive and memorable. It was a method of living – if anything about life can be methodical – that served me well. Because it let the pressure out of the vessel before it burst.

There were a lot of times when that was the difference between continuing to be a real social being and retreating into depression and fear. I never went into those regions because I aways blew up the verbal paper bag and popped it to let off the tension.

Being foolish is undignified. So is being crass, gauche, pitiful, or needy. No successful comedian was ever dignified – that was the job of the straight man. But in the end the straight man was always the second banana in the act. You know the names Abbot and Costello but it’s Lou you remember with affection.

The class clown is frequently the class dolt – the person who finds that they cannot learn or think and quickly runs for the simple reward of attention. Even if they have to purchase it at the expense of harsh discipline they will act up and get the laugh. If there is a class brain, they observe this behaviour and see if it can be adapted to their needs; frequently this is the case. The dolt never knows that they have been a useful example.

This was the case for me in grade school. Hauled, as was my norm, out of one school between years to another far way ( heavy construction company work ) I had the wearisome task of new-kid fights and pecking order with the start of the eighth grade. The class clown was a dolt from the local area who did his share of picking on me  between getting into other trouble. And it was watching his treatment at the hands of authority that taught me what to do.

a. Do not play up in class. Let the teacher get on with the business of teaching. If you can sit learning, do so. If all you can do is sit, take that route. But sit quietly.

b. Do not play dumb. Never do badly academically just to please the mob. Pass the tests as best you can and let others fail at their own pace.

c. Make a fool of yourself for the amusement of the mob in some show that doesn’t cost anything. That relieves the jealous tension and lets them out of having to react to anything you do.

d. Then occasionally sock it to them. Make fools of them.

 

 

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The Hatter – Retail Clothing Part Three

I like hatter’s shops. They seem such an old-fashioned place to be that I can relax and slow down as I browse. And hatter’s shops are not for the shallow or insensitive – they have surprisingly little to do with the modern youth – or that may be the other way round.

The feed-cap-with-a-baseball-team-on-it shop is another matter. That may be staffed and crowded with all forms of youth – golden, brassy, or plastic as the case may be. I would not know, not being the sort of man who wears a feed cap backwards.

But back to the proper hatters. There is a good one in the basement of the Flinders Street railway station in Melbourne and also one in the Strand Arcade in Sydney. They are small shops with a great deal of stock, but be aware that the stock may be seasonal – hot or cold weather – and priced accordingly. Treat yourself to a coffee at a stall before you call in, and take your time to review all the choices and fit before you decide to purchase. The Sydney shop has a good range of braces too.

Advice for someone buying a hat?

a. Do you need a hat for a protective purpose or is it to be fashion? You can get ones that will do a single or double duty.

b. Can you be a hat wearer? Some cannot. They are so self-conscious that they never seem to be able to actually put the hat on and wear it. They think everyone is looking at them and that this is a bad thing.

c. Do you know hat etiquette? When to cover and when to uncover?  How to do it – how to wear and how to carry – is an important social skill. One that can set you apart from hoi polloi in a very favourable way. There are numerous books that will help you to learn what to do.

d. Do you realise that hats are seasonal, and that you can own more than one? Try a straw for summer, a felt fedora for winter, and a good tweed cap for in between. Then, if you find you are comfortable with them, you can get many more to match your wardrobe choices.

e. If you wish to wear a ten-gallon Stetson hat, there are places where you may do so without incurring laughter. Texas, Calgary, and the outback stations of Australia come to mind. The ten-gallon is not a hat to wear in places where there are dudes.

f. If the hat you fancy makes you look younger, reject it. Likewise, if it makes you look like an English used-car salesman, an Amish elder, or Popov. Hats lend dignity, but withhold it if you make the wrong selection.

g. Do not wear a peaked cap unless you are commanding a regiment, ship, or air station. German railway drivers can get away with one, but then they are that sort of person. Führers to a man.

Note: if you are a service peaked cap wearer and they issue you with a side-cap or fatigue cap it is because they are going to make sure you are sidelined and fatigued. It is not a good cap and not a good sign.

h. Treat your hat well, but do not expect it to last more than a few seasons. Your sweaty head will see to that. If continuity of style is important, select a standard Akubra that has not changed since the days of Menzies and just buy another one when yours gets greasy and spotty.

 

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.

” You Wait Till I Get You Home “

We can all remember that one, can’t we? Either we said it or heard it.

It was a tense little sentence.

At the time I never realised what fun it could have turned into. All one would have needed was for the child to say:

” Are you going to take your belt off and beat me with it again? ” in the presence of strangers. And then cringe away.

I daresay there would have been consequences, but a new wariness on the part of the parent over the business of psychological terror out in public.

Ve Germans Haff A Sense Of Humour

As you will haff noticed, my name iss a Teutonic one. It iss from the Tyrol where my Grossvater has come. He wass in Amerika from many years and I am here in Australia until now.  So I haff a connection to the Old Country…in fact to several old countries.

I wish to address the libel that iss promoted that Germans haff no sense of humour. This has been the standard of jokes throughout the Western world since 1914. The Eastern world iss too serious for this sort of thing – they regard the German nations as carousels of comedy.

The libel iss false! Ve haff as strong a sense of humour as anyone. The fact that we do not haff a native Mr. Bean does not bar us from appreciating him, though ve would not vish that he was a German or Austrian citizen. After Brexit this will be less of a danger.

Ve haff many jokes – you must look up back copies of ” Simplicimus ” to see this and there are amusing cartoons of the German Imperial general staff there as well. Wise people do not laugh at them in public, however.

Vee also participate in ze jokes that ask how many people are required to screw in light bulbs. But we know the secret that they are not screw-based bulbs. They are bayonet -based bulbs, and if zere iss one thing that a German iss good vith it iss a bayonet. Zat iss why ve only need one person.

And ve are as ready as anyone to laugh at ze Amerikan President. It iss fashionable and makes us look better by comparison. Ze fact that we were not fast enough to erect a border wall around Deutschland in the last couple of years to prevent the sort of thing that he complains of iss neither here not there – but ve are not laughing quite so hard about zis.

If you vant people who haff no sense of humour, try the Swedes.

 

 

 

I’m Not Sorry I Met You…

I just regret that it was at a dinner-dance and not the morgue.

We can all think of people we wish we had never encountered. Ex-partners, schoolyard bullies, dishonest employers, social-club sponges, etc. Of course there are people we regret for the sake of the world; Putin, Trudeau, Mussolini, etc. but they are somewhat removed from our own circle and in most cases we need not take any responsibility for whatever it is that they have done. They are roaches that have not run over our feet.

By the same token, we must be fair – there are undoubtedly people in the world who think of us as unmitigated blisters and regret our acquaintance.  We’ll know of some but be surprised to learn of others – it is a sobering moment when you find out that a friend regards you badly. What we do about this discovery depends upon our characters and the time-frame involved…if the revelation comes in the middle of soup while dining at the Bishop’s palace, all you can really do is continue slurping and excuse yourself after the savoury. Or pour the tureen over your enemy. Equally good.

The best time of all is to be had watching two separate individuals who have both confided  previously in you that they detest the other…and then see them brought together by  circumstance and forced to be civil. If you can arrange the meeting, so much the better. Just be close by as the atmosphere cools and the language stiffens. It is better than a play, though not quite as good as an Auto da Fé.

Is it fair to set these things up? No, of course it isn’t. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here is how you do it:

a. Determine who hates whom. Only the loudest of mouths will advertise themselves in this way – the others need careful attention and the occasional trick question. Try Donald Trump as a touchstone for this and ask if anyone in the social circle reminds your victim of Trump. Or use Justin Trudeau, if you don’t mind the sort of language this will generate.

You goal is not to find someone who hates everybody, but someone who dislikes someone – in particular. It need not be overweening hatred – distaste will do nicely. Then find out if the object of this negative emotion entertains a reciprocal dislike for the first person. If they do, you have your fighting pair.

b. Bring them together. Social club gathering are good for this, as are barbeques, theatre nights, and sporting events. If you can arrange things well, you will have major ingredients to hand with little obvious work.

The ingredients? A crowd who knows one another and who is drinking alcohol. This gives you an audience and a chemical that relaxes natural caution while fuelling passion.

Find a space that does not allow either party to stay aloof to start with nor to escape readily as things heat up. Like a fission reaction, it must all be contained for a microsecond to build up enough pressure to detonate.

c. Introduce a topic upon which they disagree. It need be no more than the correct way to spike tyres – the main thing is to arrange it so that they are both right in the eyes of themselves, wrong in the eyes of others, and unable to back away from the fight. Politics, religion, and sex are always good for this. If you can get them to fight over nothing that anyone else understands it is even better.

d. Try to calm them down by reminding them that people are watching. This will have the effect of making more people watch. See if you can get people to video it on a mobile phone and to be seen by the combatants doing so….It is encouraging and modern.

Make peace by telling them that they are grown-ups. This will bring out the childishness. If you can go beyond shouting and scuffles to actual hair pulling and scratching, you have a chance for a viral YouTube clip. Your combatants will cherish this in years to come.

 

 

A Source Of Pride And Comfort

Looking for something in your life that you can be proud of and that can console you for the little heartaches can be difficult – it is hard to judge things that have no measurable number. You can tot up your score in Bridge or at a firing range, but it is hard to post a personal best in contentment.

Still, I have to say I am feeling good about my recent activities on Facebook…

a. I cancelled out a dozen suggested posts and advertisements without telling the auto-bot why. This means I am still a vague target. Oh, it won’t stop the cycle from happening again, and there will be a new spate of probing shots, but they will all fall dead to the ground.

Moral? Tell ’em nothing, ask ’em nothing.

b. I allowed a most foolish posting from a most foolish friend to pass with no reaction – realising that it was nothing more than a product of extraneous time squeezed through a limited imagination. When things get busy for them, this sort of thing dries up.

c. I ignored the coarsest of political re-posts. Why comment on a third-hand thought that was no good to start with? One would not pick up a discarded half-chewed sandwich from the gutter for any purpose, so why do it with anything else?

d. I refrained from showing wounds, prizes, precocious children, or pets. There was a brief temptation to include a video of a working digestion system but I resisted. If people want to look at that sort of thing they can get a bowl of soup and a mirror and make their own experiments.

e. I refrained from mysticism…because the spirits told me so.

f. I didn’t not correct no-one’s grammar or spelinge.

g. I went to bed at a reasonable hour. Drunk, mind, but in my own bed. Well, it’s a start, isn’t it? I’ll change the sheets tomorrow. Before they set solid.