Your Real Look – Part Three – Colour Or Not

Are you condemned to live your life in greys and blacks? Well, move out of Melbourne…

But seriously – your palette of colour when dressing for your real look can be everything from the grim Collins Street banker’s uniform all the way to the calypso bongo drummer tiki shirt and white slacks – and as long as the thing resonates with your psyche, all is well.

Modern fabrics and tailoring can provide the entire gamut and as long as you do not fall foul of the worst excesses of the fashion runway, you can be happy. As your real look is something you control, you are allowed to make it what you will.

I cannot wear the brightest of the fashion clothing comfortably – it has been bought for me occasionally but in many cases I have carefully routed those garments to the Goodwill without ever donning them, and with no regrets. Equally, I deplore the dead black of the Melbourne winter uniform as tending to make the wearers more miserable in bad weather than they need be.

I have hit upon a brown/green palette for myself and have pursued this for years. I do maintain a couple of grey pinstripes or checks of varying luminosity for formal occasions but these often give way to a deep brown stripe that my father bought in 1960 – it is a comfortable garment if you combine the obviously retro look with suitable shirt, shoes, and hat. I am of an age that can wear this.

Equally, I can wear plaid shirts and straight jeans in brown and green for daily wear and get the benefit of comfort and quiet appearance. I can add braces and not feel out of place. A cap or hat is entirely appropriate – even to a straw hat in summer.

And a man of my age can wear a sweater -sleeved or sleeveless as the occasion might be – with dignity. The only thing one must do is be ruthless and discard or repair sweaters so that they do not look holed or baggy. If you are Einstein you can get away with it but the rest of us have to look better, not smarter.

 

Advertisements

The Boot On The Neck

How many of us have a boot on our necks? I would say most of us – at least most of us within Western society. And in many cases we have paid the cobbler’s bill.

Consider – here, right now, as I type this in Perth, Western Australia – I have the following overlords:

  1. The Australian Federal Government – who will prevent me from selling my land to overseas buyers without scrutiny, from importing cigars without a tax, and divulging military and naval codes. They may also prevent me from tearing a tag off a mattress, for all I know…
  2. The Western Australian State Government – who will regulate my ability to make liquor from toenails and to sell it to prospective clients, and who will also want a tax for every piece of paper I touch. I am not sure if they tax toilet paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
  3. The Melville City Council who demand obeisance for every bit of building I wish to do on my lot and who send snoopers with cameras to make sure that what eventuates is to their taste. I look forward to my encounter with the next snooper – I have a camera too and a website that can mock him.
  4. Every trade and professional guild and self-interest group that have gotten a charter from the state government to fix prices and exclude foreigners from their specialty. They have immense and frightening powers – and I am free of them all…having retired.
  5.  The Cat. There is no appeal against the judgement of Cat Meow. If he decides that you will sleep rigid for 8 hours to provide a convenient resting place you must resign yourself to it. So far there has been no demand for human sacrifice but it is early days…
  6. My hobby club. I don’t know yet the extent of the control it will exercise – but there is a constitution with numerous clauses on discipline. Only hobbies could engender such control…

Note that there are no secret societies, religious organisations, or ex-service clubs included in this list. I do not think I could bear the burden if there were. As it is I am doing research to see how I may free myself from passwords or other forms of electronic pavlovism.

Stay calm. I intend to keep my clothes on…

 

My New Enemies – Fresh From The Newspaper

Apparently I am the enemy of the young, and they are enemies of me – or so says the Atlantic Monthly. I am considered a minor detonation in the Baby Boom and guilty, thereby, of oppressing them mightily.

It seems as if by being 71 and owning my own home, I have condemned them to listless poverty and racial segregation. I’m not sure if I’m also responsible for Hitler or the Johnstown Flood, but I’m going to read the magazine avidly to see. And that may be the explanation for the article…

Newspapers write whatever they like. And what they like is for people to give them money. They are pleased to receive it from advertisers, subscribers, and people who buy the paper to wrap fish. It is much the same with magazines, though they are smaller than newspapers and the ink they use makes the fish taste funny. Still, they want you to read and look at the ads, and writing garbage is just as profitable as wrapping it.

On one hand I am pretty certain I have not excluded any of my neighbours from Singapore, India, Malaysia, or Watford Gap from settling in the neighbourhood…because they’re here and so am I. None of us that I can recall have burned crosses on the front lawn, though there have been a few suspect smells when someone has not paid attention to the pots on the stove. And first day of winter smells like a forest fire in the Okanagan as everyone in the street fires up their wood stoves.

On the other hand, the thought that I am causing pain and suffering to the millennial generation by denying them their rightful place in Mom’s basement playing a video game is a very appealing one. Just knowing that they are frustrated at not being able to get free stuff is enough to brighten the day. We don’t have much of a lawn now, but I’ll welcome the chance to yell at them to get off it.

 

Touching A Land Mine With A Barge Pole

Also known as ignoring the warning bells and the voices in your head.

We have all done it at some stage of our lives, but I address myself to those who have not quite reached that stage. Unlike Wells Fargo, this stage doesn’t have a guard with a shotgun on the front seat.

We will all encounter situations where there is a little internal voice – or a faint hint – that tells us to back away. To avoid engaging. To be quiet and do it quickly. If we are intelligent, we listen to those voices. There may also be tiny silver bells, or submarine diving klaxons. In any case they invite us to heed and hold off. And how often have we ignored them…and ploughed ahead to disaster.

I can think of a dozen times when discretion would have been the better part of valour and disinterest the better part of friendship. Yet I only acceded to the call of wisdom in half of the cases – and got 6 bruises for the other half. I’ve lost money, friends, reputation, goods, and self-esteem by barging wildly into situations that needed me to be somewhere else.

This was bad news for me over the years, but fortunately each mental scar has the decency to throb in wet weather and remind me of itself – and I have gotten old enough to take lessons from my own past. I may not remember dates of battles won, but I do remember defeats. Each one has helped me far more than the victories.

I recently had an opportunity to step into the breach and ” do the right thing ” and cover myself with self-love…and I looked at the ceiling and walked on by. I also deliberately avoided doing bad things to good people and/or becoming a living saint. And I think I shall be much happier in all cases for it. I know how quickly good works can turn into bad times.

Land mines blast far further than barge poles can reach.

” How Do You Know That I Don’t Know What You Ought To Know That I Found Out? “

” There. Hah ! You can’t answer that, can you? ”

Well, no I can’t. I don’t even understand the question, let alone any answer. I lost traction at the second ” Don’t ” and slid off the road. As it is, I don’t think I’ll get back up – just let me lie here for a awhile.

This sort of rhetoric is all too common in the criminal worlds of marriage, CNN news reports, and Senate Enquiries. It starts off with the determination to accuse, then confuse, and then finishes by refusing to be defused. It’s like a German bomb at the bottom of the garden – you know it’s deadly and you don’t want to go anywhere near it – but the privy is right next door and eventually you’re going to have to pee…

As a younger person I was fearful – and when I was a student, a junior practitioner, or a shop employee, I always felt at such a social disadvantage that any sort of bullying like this always succeeded. I was always flustered. I was always defensive. I played right into the hands and wandered right across the sights of anyone who wanted to set one of these things up.

Now I am older, retired, and irresponsible. You may think that I should have phrased that last bit differently – that I should have written something about having fewer responsibilities. Possibly. That, too, But I’ll stick with irresponsible because I know me very well.

However you phrase it, I am a different creature. I still fluster, but only in traffic jams, and even then not so much. I have traded defensiveness for offensiveness and find I like it far better. And if you essay to bully me I regard it as an invitation to a fine day’s sport. I am retired and I can play all day.

I also have the advantage that I laugh at myself and suggest to others that they do so as well. This removes the weapon of scorn from the bully’s hand. I am financially independent, which takes the whip away from the boss. I’ve done my time on the gurney and the operating table and have lost a lot of fear of the physical thereby. And I have all day to play.

Ask me a bullying question, Mr. De Mille. I’m ready for my close-up…

Suppose You Were Worth A Million Dollars

If you were me you’d be overjoyed. If you were a billionaire you’d be furious.

That’s what having money does to you.

I’ll amend that statement – that’s what having too much money does to you. Whether it is your own or someone else’s, the stuff will eat into your soul and leave holes. Then other things come and live in those holes, and it is darned hard to get them out.

The trick is having just the right amount. Not too little – so that you are pinched and sad and sick – nor too much so that you are arrogant, anxious, and aggressive. Just enough to eat well, play well, and sleep well. If you get it by working well, so much the better.

If you get it by desperate drudgery, criminality, or vile practices, so much the worse. These will take their toll and eventually the doors to the happier parts of life will close.

I think I have the right amount at present. I can do what I want to do as long as I do not want to do expensive things too often. And I am fortunate in that I honestly don’t want to do expensive things. Though I would like roast beef for dinner.

 

Has You Been?

No, I’m not talking about today and the All Bran. Your digestive tract is none of my concern. I’m talking about your career and your past successes. Things that you may legitimately cherish.

But a hint: Cherish them to yourself, in private. You’ll do far better in the social scene if you keep up to date with what is going on and don’t hearken to or harp upon the past. Others may know of your history and celebrate it, but as soon as you join in the praise of you there is a danger that they will fall silent. And eventually so will you, in shame.

It will go even worse for you if you come and cry your decline. It may be real, and if so people will perceive it. You need not tell it like a tragic opera.

I was reminded of this at a trade fair where I met several former practitioners of professional photography who have settled into a pattern of retailing their past business history and bewailing their current retirement and/or failures. I feel for them, but if they continue to tell of the woes of getting old I am tempted to feel for a sharp knife to cure that problem.

It was exactly the same for me after my retirement from dentistry – now when I meet an old colleague I try to celebrate our hard-won escape from the profession and I do not go on as if I pine for it. In truth, I do not, and am pleasantly surprised to find that most of my old classmates are of a similar mind.

I find I can bore people wonderfully with new topics and do not need to use the old ammunition. Most of it was duds anyway.