I Apologise To All Whom the Guild Has Failed To Offend

It has been a busy season and some stations on the social railway have remained necessarily unattended. People have had to embarrass or insult themselves in the absence of trained staff members. The mental porters have not be available to help with the psychological baggage and passengers have had to lump it themselves.

With such a busy world – and so many people wanting to be angry and offended – the job of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia might be thought to be idyllic. A victim at every turn – treachery by the carton – coups to be struck all day. This is the case, of course, but we in the BGA  have to plead the limits of inhumanity. We can do only so much to worsen your lives. You really must learn to make yourselves miserable when we are not available.

Let us take simple case of a person – say an ordinary man or woman who is a pillar of the community – and ask whether we really need to exercise the full fury of the Guild on them – with attendant expenses and time needed. Would it not be better in 58.3% of cases to enable them to make fools of themselves, and save our efforts for the exceptional? I think it would be.

To this end we will be sending out BGA Paks to a wide range of households in Australia this coming winter. Each Pak will contain banana peels, metal caltrops spikes, mercaptan oil in breakable containers, and a handy guide to public embarrassment that will enable the recipients to produce their own regrettable incidents. As an added incentive to use the kits the Guild will include three free Golden Tickets per 1000 kits that entitle the lucky winners to nominate someone to be publicly humiliated, with the full compendium of Guild fiendishness.

It looks like a good winter.

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Are You Sorry You Never…?

Yes. and no. When I consider the possibilities of what I might have done…or had done to me…I figure it is about a draw. I have never been as happy or as miserable as I might have been. Not that I did not try.

We can all remember chances we could have taken that would have resulted in vast wealth, fabulous sex, and untold acclaim.  The land we could have bought for a song, the partner we could have bedded, the position we could have stood for and won. But we have to be honest – if we pass the same period of time through our memory we can also list junk bonds and properties that we passed by, people who have turned out really rotten, and ventures that have proven to be toxic to all concerned. If we missed some, we at least avoided the others.

It’s been a constant meme that the saddest phrase is ” If Only…” but this is a crock. The wise person remembers the mixture of events and benefits greatly from the warm glow – in some cases of nostalgia and in the other of burning wrecks. In both cases you benefit from being far away and long after. Just remember the dumb thing and do the smarter thing next time.

But, but, but…what if there is no next time? What if you fetch up on the wrong side of 70 and all the bikini girls are 18? And what if there is no more land in Dalkeith for 5 Pounds? And you have retired from the Association Of Veeblefetzers long before you could become president and reap the bribes? How can you stop the gnaw of regret? Easy. Remember then, if you wish, and then look at now realistically.

Talk to an 18 year-old. If you can get them out of their iPhone long enough. Ask them about music or the movies. Be prepared to grit your teeth and/or other parts of your anatomy at some of the answers. Let’s face it – you’ll be lucky to resist the urge to order the kid off your lawn!

Fabulous land bargains? They come with fabulous land taxes and/or dealing with contractors to develop the dirt. They are the start of decades of worry, culminating in the fear of capital gains tax. You’ll get a six-foot plot of land soon enough…

Position and power? Over whom? The sort of people who have meetings, seminars, and workshops? The committees and subcommittees? The Annual General Meeting? You could wash out stale yoghurt containers and have more fun than occupy most powerful executive positions.

So do not regret. Leave that to others. If you enter into the thing at all, opt for being the person who makes them sorry for it all.

 

 

 

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

The Obscene Joy Of Politeness

I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.

Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.

Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.

But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:

a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.

b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.

c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.

In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.

” I’m Not Happy…”

Once upon a time my father put a set of plans for his new house in to the local shire for approval. It was a good design and quite legal – though it was an unusual configuration for the time. The clerk behind the desk shook his head and said he wasn’t happy about the ideas he saw on paper.

My father wasn’t offended. He asked the clerk to show him the local building statute that referred to the clerk’s happiness…There was a the sound of growling and rubber stamping and the house is standing and serving me 44 years later. I cannot say what the state of mind of the clerk is – perhaps he cheered up in retirement.

Similarly, I have noted that many people behind counters are not happy. Some, because they are there, and some because I am there. I have learned to do my best to alleviate their gloom by smiling and making whatever request I have small and easy to accomplish. This works well in delis and banks – a simple request for a pie and sauce in the one or a small note demanding cash for the other is all that’s needed. And keep your finger pointed in your coat pocket when you ask.

If you are not happy at home, the onus is generally on you to remedy this. The way you do that can be manyfold – study, work, singing, hobbies, thinking – they’ll all serve to lift your gloom. If your unhappiness is due to another, simply remove them from the home and have the locks changed. If all else fails paint them a bright colour and decorate their edges with chrome trim.

Politics – It’s All Their Fault

Or alternately…It’s All Their Responsibility.

Rarely, It’s All Their Honour.

That last’s a pretty unusual thing to hear from the electorate these days, as the culture or habit of public politeness seems to have been laid aside in a camphor-wood chest along with the heritage linen and the tintype portraits.

In fact…I cannot remember one unpaid posting on my social media screen during this last election that lauded anyone – and I certainly do not expect to see them in the coming months as the new old government and opposition continue to turn up at the office each day and do their business of government and opposition. I cannot say that no-one in my social circle will be happy, but I’ll bet that they do not express that happiness publicly. The risk of angry outbursts from the readers will prevent it.

I often wonder about the disappointed in elections. I mean the disappointed voters and supporters – not the candidates. I wonder whether there is not always a culture of wrecking and schadenfreud afterwards for some considerable time. I’ve seen it in the USA with the last two presidents’ terms of office. Perhaps it exists in Australia, and perhaps to a greater extent due to the evenness of our vote spread.

Who knows how many things will be awkward now because people want to make difficulties for the party that won. And then complain that the government has failed them…

And that, folks, is the last of the Australian Federal Election that I’ll write about. It is done and dusted and while the aging millenials are still whining ( or is that the bearings on the refrigerator going out? ) I feel we can get back to normal next week.

 

Well, Chicken Little…

You can take the helmet off. The sky has not fallen.

We’re well into the first week of the election that wasn’t won by your party ( and by that I don’t mean a party that you actually belong to. Not a party where you join and pay and do work. I mean one that you thought would be handing out the free stuff. ). And we’ve looked outside and the sky has not fallen.

China has not forced sanctions on Queensland. New Zealand has not stopped taking tourists on trips to see where LOTR was filmed. You can still get spicy tucker in Singapore and pirate DVDs in Bali. And your dole payment.

Things have not changed.

There are some fools gone from the Senate, and new ones substituted. Ditto House of Representatives. There will still be cross-bench members trying to pull the strings in both directions as hard as they can. There will still be witless xenophobic morons holding rallies. There will still be hippie apologists trying to buy an electorate with government grant money.

Things will not change.

Had your favoured party gotten into power, there would have been a little flurry of preening and appointing of party members to special positions. Ambassadorships would have been handed out in exchange for past favours. And then it would have gone on quite the same as before.

Console yourself with your paroxysm of outrage and share a dozen vulgar memes. Vow revenge on the winners. Howl to the moon – it’s good for the lungs. And next week is coming.