But I did say it
” But you are not allowed to say that! That is not acceptable! You are not allowed to have those opinions! We forbid it! ”
We? Who is this ” we ” that you write about?
” Me and all the other the moral people! The people who are caring and sensible and good and right and virtuous! The people who demand that you toe the line and conform to our moral standards and only print our opinion! ”
So no other opinion is permitted?
” No! We are a free country and you are free to think as we do or suffer our displeasure! ”
Do you always speak in exclamation marks?
” Yes! We are never wrong! “
I have been accused of cynicism and irony.
The persons who said this were probably hoping I’d offer them a bribe to change their minds. I would be happy to send them a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for their opinion – It has opened my eyes to the value of mistrust and suspicion.
Of course there are others who see this philosophy as detrimental – who cry that all men are brothers and all women are sisters. Take a look at a family that is composed of brothers and sisters and count the bruises, scars, and other souvenirs. You don’t get that as an only child. if you want to be savage you have to go away from the cozy hearth and the bosom of the family. Strangers are your only legitimate targets and the world only has 9 billion of them left.
As far as the irony, I do think I may have been a little indiscrete with that. I have laughed where I should have cried and pointed out follies that others wished to be hidden. It has made me enemies, though not the sort of quality fiends that I really want. Mostly just people who snarl at me in passing. Some, of course, adopt the sensible course of putting on stern disapproving looks or blank RBF looks. There is little one can say to them, though there is a great deal that can be written about them. I tend to do this on the doors of lavatory stalls. With pictures.
Cynicism has saved me a great deal of money in the past, and as internet promotions ramp up, I’m looking to it as a real shield. Of course I disbelieve anything that comes over the telephone these days, particularly if it is spoken in a Peter Sellers accent…but I am also binning any number of contacts that urge me to do things on email or Facebook. When you close down the latter the air clears remarkably.
Last month I watched people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.
I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention – not on the causes – but on them?
Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.
Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.
Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:
- Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
- Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
- Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
- Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
- Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
- Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
- When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
- Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house. No travel, no passports or documentation.
- Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
- Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
- Become Vice President of the United States.
And the goodness may be your own peace of mind.
One day recently I made a bad purchase – for a small price. Neither the seller nor I were aware of a defect in a product that rendered it valueless. There was no chance of recompense from a supplier or maker – they were unknown and far away. The only saving grace about the whole thing was the low price of the article – it was not worth raising a stink about it to anyone.
But it was worth writing a weblog column about – tying in memories of cheap goods from Hong Kong that plagued us in the 1950’s and contrasting that with the generally high standard of production from China these days. Didn’t put the coin back in my pocket, but did keep the thing in perspective – and the release of steam meant that the rest of the boiler remained calm.
The weblog column is much maligned as too petty for real writers to bother with – and too common for real readers to look at. Bit of elitism there, but it doesn’t touch the real benefit that writing one may give; the opportunity to vent a grievance or order your mind when no-one else will listen. If I were a single person without family or friends – which I thank the Lord is not the case – I would regard the humble blog as a lifeline to sanity.
As it is, I have looked at sanity and decided that I didn’t need it all that much.
Are you a child? Do you have friends? Are you aware that one of them will become a famous scientist, one a renowned entertainer, and one a serial killer? That’ll dispose of three, and all the rest will be insurance salesmen, cocktail waitresses, and dry-goods clerks. In your case you’ll be lucky to get out of the neighbourhood ahead of the mob armed with the torches and pitchforks.
Childhood friends are a little like childhood cousins. You get to interact with them and have a sort of a family connection for awhile without being required to save them when they fall down the old well. That’s Lassie’s job. You can watch with interest their future progress and you never have to claim any debit for it – only credit. If they make good, you knew ’em when…if not, you didn’t. And you need not worry about what they think of you because chances are they don’t.
Childhood enemies are similar – but you are not required to be pleased for them when they make good nor grieve for them when they finally end up just like you said they would. Being from the long past, anything they do wrong cannot be sheeted home to you – unlike present work colleagues or acquaintances. There is a bigger circle of blast around people you have interacted with as an adult compared to the ones of childhood.
If you meet an old childhood friend on the road take the Buddha advice. If they claim friendship, run away from them. Remember that when you were young it was no great honour to know you and it hasn’t gotten any better.
I mean, don’t you freeze up at the keyboard? Haven’t you run out of topics? How can you think of things to say?
Well, think about what you’ve just asked. What you’ve written has become the topic of this weblog post. Thank you for asking – you’ve done me good…
Keep your ears and eyes open every day and there are far more things to write about than you have fingers for the keyboard. People are the most prolific source of interest we can think of – after all most of the people who read this column are human…and they can see themselves in the pictures and hear themselves in the language. You have only to return one image or one word to them that they recognise as their own and they will read every other syllable you write.
They might read from self interest, or self consciousness. They might read with greed or horror. They might read to see if you have mentioned the time they were left on the doorstep by the police drunk and dressed in a dirndl…but they read.
Write about what you’ve heard or seen in the day, or the week. Lie to them unashamedly, tell them the unvarnished truth, or anything in between. Just use your own words and they will read.