How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

Hold Me Close – Stab Me Deep

I am somewhat amused to see that Bette Midler and Donald Trump do not like each, though I am not surprised by it. Even if they shared the same political affiliations – which I take it they do not – there would still be ample cause for them to be at each other’s throats – the chief of which is they are both overbearing…and do not appreciate it when they cannot dominate each other. As it is, they both have a very good thing going in their animosity – it assures them of a place in the news sheets and the social tweets. And they both want to be in all the news all the time.

This closeness that they do not admit sharing is also seen in many other arts and crafts – dancing has it, painting has it, sculpture has it…as does any other art you care to name. I can find you collectors of model cars who would stab each other with a 1:43 scale Morris sedan if they could get away with it. Rivalry, angst, bitchiness, treachery, and deceit can be found everywhere.

It can be petty, like the person who falls upon spelling or grammar errors to score points. It can be serious, like the glaring matches that break out at amateur dramatics between sets of parents. It can be useful…though frequently useful only in starting an even bigger fight. And sometimes it can be profitable.  Send me $ 15 in used notes and I’ll tell you how…

I used to be horrified when a friend betrayed me. Then I discovered that after the world had come crashing down around my ears it could be set back upright – and frequently looking a bit better – within days. And the terrible act was somewhat of an inoculation – no-one could ever do exactly the same thing again. Oh there would be new betrayals to conquer, but that particular one was a dead issue. One less person and/or circumstance to worry over.

Is this to be taken as an encouragement to be horrible to others? No, you should still be as kind as you can to everyone. But it does put a lot of the things we see into perspective, and if it helps us to genuinely shrug off a hurt, it is valuable.

 

The Pleasure Someone Thinks You Should Be Ashamed Of…

No matter what little joy you may have picked up, there is always someone prepared to strike it from your hand and then to scold you about it. Whether you want to smoke tobacco, drink beer, read comic books, drink coffee, or yell at football players until you feel slightly ill, someone will sneer and scowl.

It is not because of the actual activity – of the moral goodness or badness of it. It is not really related to economics, politics, religion, or any other serious human concern. it is because it makes you happy.

Your happiness means something to you. If yu are lucky it means something to your friends and family. But it means nothing at all…or worse than nothing…to the reformers of the world. They find your happiness an obstacle to their ambitions, and quite naturally try to reduce that obstacle. Indeed, if they can convert happiness to dissatisfaction, they can use that emotion to further their ends.

I am drawn to this thought by the coffee cup in front of me – it contains a powerful little espresso made by the Nestlé company that is sold in a pre-packaged pod. I load one every evening after dinner into a machine and then set it to wash boiling steam through it. I get the variety pack from the Nespresso shop and cycle a different one through each night. Apparently I am destroying rain forests, the planet, and cuddly animals by doing so. And I might be perpetuating child slavery as well, depending upon which hysterical Facebook post you read. It’s quite a busy time after dinner being that evil before the coffee cools…

I daresay every other activity I pursue during the day – and possibly some after I go to bed – can also be condemned by the eco-righteous and politico-socialist types who lay out the memefields of the net. I perpetuate white privilege, male privilege, and western privilege by breathing regularly, and can be considered reprobate for doing it with a smile. And I am so far gone in cruelty as to do that with clean teeth. I will not be receiving a holiday gift from PETA, ACORN, or the ACLU.

And do you know…I don’t care. I shall be destroying the planet tomorrow night with a cup of Ristretto and a small biscuit and I may even go so far as to actually dislike some trendy announcer on the ABC. If I am going to go to hell, at least I get to choose my own handbasket.

You Cannot Predict The Past From Future Events

I went somewhere one day and did something and met someone. This may seem a little specific, but I assure you it was not – I have rarely had a vaguer experience.

In our city I have often advised people to have a ready response for sudden meetings – because we are bound to encounter people in the street that we neither expect nor want to meet. Faced with them at a corner, knife fight, or funeral, we must say something for the sake of society, and we need to be able to do it straight off.

The first problem is recognition – now the really vile ones – the ones who have been seared into our psyche will be instantly familiar – we need not fear forgetting their names. It is the second-tier types that are the problem – the friends and acquaintances of a decade or more ago that are just becoming a little fuzzy around the edges. Combine that passage of time with a senior’s moment and you can be in real social trouble. You expose yourself for either a fool or a knave, and this can be inconvenient if you have been trying to hide the fact.

I have been known to resort to the Canadian Gambit. Saying things like ” Well, I’ll be darned! Wherever did you get to? ” in hopes that it will distract them. Or if they ask the question first I just tell them I was having treatment in the asylum. And I do it with a straight face and add nothing else to the information. You’d be surprised how people can sweat in cold weather.

Of course there is a corollary to the unexpected appearance and it is the unexpected absence. The person above all persons who you would have expected to be at the graduation, funeral, or arraignment…and isn’t. You have to be careful with this one and make a complete search of the crowd to make sure that you have not missed them inadvertently. But if they’re really not there, you can start a fox and get an enquiry going  amongst the ones who are. Where is X? Why have they not come? Is there something they do not want us to know.? Is it time to search the court and clinical records? Or under the railway viaducts?

In the end, whoever shows up, shows up, and generally the affair does not dissolve into a fist fight. If you are wise you will be closer to the door than most of the troublemakers and can light out at the first sign of knives.

Collecting Things For Gumtree

I have started to collect things for Gumtree sales – or I might opt for eBay.com.au. I’ll get the daughter to show me how to do the registration and presentation and then I’ll get rid of a few things that are surplus around here.

First off I’ll find the box that my Giveashit button came in and repack it. I don’t think I have used it for about 5 years and I might as well get some money back on it before it becomes obsolete. It was in constant use until about 1985 when I shut down some of the North American links. Every year since then I’ve disconnected some of the wires to former professions, businesses, or acquaintances and now it works less than 10% of the time. Oh I try – I do press it whenever someone puts up some anguished meme on Facebook in an effort to make myself explode with either rage or delight. But most times all I get is a clicking sound. Maybe someone younger and with more passion will get some fun out of it.

Then I am going to try to get some return from the anxiety collection. I got some of them as a child – presents from relatives – and then was able to add something new each year as I grew up. My Fear Of Russians cards are still in mint condition – some of them have never been removed from the cellophane packets. With the way the Russians are behaving these days I should be able to get the entire purchase price plus a bonus back. I didn’t save my Moko Lesney Matchbox cars, but these cards should more than make up for it.

I do feel a little bad about the old shoebox full of religious feelings. I kind of hate to let them go. They were like a coin collection – you could take them out on a rainy day and play with them – looking at all the arcane writings engraved upon them and wondering where they came from. In my case I suspect from the Bronze Age. I intend to sell them outright – I don’t want to trade them for someone else’s shoebox.

I’m in two minds about the clothing. The Suit Of Ambition doesn’t fit all that well any more – I have outgrown the waistline on the trousers – and the Cloak Of Humility smells a little – but I still have a feeling that there will be some place I can wear them. But as I really don’t fancy intensive night life, I can’t really think where.

The Boosters Club

Are You a Booster?

You’re not a Booster? Well sit right down here beside me and I’ll sign you right up. Now you can become a Full Booster, or a Semi-Booster, or a Little Bit Of A Booster…but you get a better price on your boosting if you become a Full Booster right away.

Now we also have Booster auxiliaries if you are the partner of a Booster. It means that you can boost together, except that you’ll mostly be making pots of tea and doing the washing up. Oh, it’s a grand life in the Booster auxiliaries.

And don’t forget the Booster Convention Weekend in a famous holiday resort nearby. Boosters from all over the state will be attending and there will be speakers. You can hear a full  program of speeches all through the weekend.

Now make sure that you do not miss the Booster Gala Dinner because there will be a prize for the best costume featuring a Booster and then a speech and an election. If you are a Full Booster you will get to vote and if you are a Booster auxiliary you will get to make cups of tea.

I can hardly wait, can you…?