What Would Genghis Do?

There must have been times when even the great Khan was stumped for an answer. When ordering the death of a city or the poisoning of a well just didn’t seem to satisfy the palate. Off days on the great grassy plain.

Well, GK, if that’s not being too familiar, we are still having those days now. We are living far away from your region and have fewer opportunities to swarm over civilisation and destroy it but we still long to make our small mark on the wall.

For most of us it comes down to what we can do at work, in school, or within the family circle. We are beset with laws forbidding pillage and murder. Wholesale destruction of cities  has become so complicated with zoning laws and metropolitan renewal schemes that it is left to the road building firms. The best most of us can do is post snide memes on social media.

Yet we still look to you for inspiration in the times of trouble. We think ” If it worked for Genghis Khan, it’ll work for me. ” and all we need is the boldness to put down the iPad, pick up a  butter knife, and go out and start slitting throats. If we could only inculcate this sense of irresponsibility in our youth…

Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.


Popping The Question

A quick glance at a Facebook post…a young technically-talented swain proposed marriage to his light-of-love  by making an animation that was played on a large motion picture screen. All went well and she accepted his troth. It made a charming little show.

Consider what would have happened if she had said ” No “. Or turned and popped him one on the beezer in front of the rest of the crowd.

Proposing marriage – like confessing a sin, propositioning for carnal pleasure, or suggesting that someone invest in a time-share apartment in Brisbane – is wiser done as a private thing. The reaction of the other is not guaranteed and if there are people to see and hear it, the situation goes from romance to embarrassment very quickly. It is the sort of thing that marks one indelibly for ever after. And that’s the case with either answer.

I am not an anti-romantic. I love a good bended knee and ring box and gasp of delight. I can freely weep in a cinema when I see someone kneeling and getting boxed in the ring, particularly if it Sylvester Stallone. I gasp in delight.

But I also remember my own proposal of marriage. It was done privately, accepted privately, and announced publicly when we were sure of our own feelings. It seems to have lasted some 48 years so far, so it must have been a good thing to do…


” I Regret…”

a. Meeting you. You have proved a disappointment. I laid it all out for you – the mask, the pistol, the map of the bank. Did you take advantage of this? You did not. Begone…

b. Not buying Nedlands land when it was £ 1.00 an acre. Of course this was before I was in the country or even born. But when I see the price that house lots sell for now…my organ of greed swells painfully.

c. Not following the teenage girl into the woods. Well, actually I did follow her into the woods, but I had no idea why she wanted me to go in there, being a stupid teenager at the time. The deserted log cabin she wanted to show me was just an old shack. I looked at it from the outside. I now appreciate her annoyance.

d. Selling the Renault 10. If I had put the damn car up on blocks in a barn with the tyres thrown away and 6 quarts of oil in the crankcase I could pass a cheerful retirement pottering with it. As it was, the 1972 buyer wrapped it around a light pole within six months of the purchase and I can’t bear the thought.

e. Not packing up my first profession and taking up my second one ten years earlier. I was on a hiding to nothing for a decade and it was only my pride that kept me at it. You can be too prissy for your own good.

f. Selling my Leica cameras. Even laid up in ordinary, they would have proved a far better investment than gold.



Honest Behaviour – Whatever That Might Be

Have you ever been guilty of honest behaviour? Don’t be afraid to admit to it here…no-one is listening to us. Regard this as a confessional but with better seating.

I’ll be frank – I’ve been honest before. I’ve been kind. I’ve done the right thing…and worse. I’ve refused to believe and applaud unproven propaganda even though it was really what I wanted all along. It’s sort of like forcing your mind to take a cold shower instead of a warm bubble bath.

Of course I’ve been punished for it – no good deed ever escapes that, as Wilde wrote. But the price was not that high and I had a discount coupon anyway. And fortunately the incident passed over with little notice.

I’m afraid, however, that it may not be the last time – I doubt I can keep myself from it in the future. The discipline to keep on being mean to every one is a very hard one – you need infinite vigilance and a really good nail on a stick. And your concentration just slacks off in good weather.

If I were associated with the late General De Gaulle or Jane Fonda or Clive Palmer the task would be so much easier.

Ah well, I must stop blathering on. Back to the grind. I have several noses and a whirling stone and no time to waste…


” I’ve Never Been So Insulted In My Life! “

Well that shows you that things are advancing, eh? You have achieved something that you never reached before. Onward And Upward, eh?

Feeling insulted may not seem like an achievement to some of us older folks. We remember when it was an unpleasant thing that we tried to avoid. We probably still think of it along these lines, which shows how ancient we are.

A more modern generation has  been able to see more clearly – by peering harder into the pan. They regard feeling insulted as a badge of honour and a desirable state of being. If they can feel insulted…and protest their distresses…they feel they have gained status in their community.

As odd as this may seem to us oldies, it is real – and we should make an effort to assist the younger generation to gain self confidence and esteem by insulting them at every opportunity. Make note of the following words and phrases:

snot-nose kid

millennial snowflake

dole bludger

Mickey Mouse student

They are crude weapons on the generational battlefield but valuable nonetheless. You may never need to wield them, but if you do, lay about you with vigour. You need not feel bad about making the young feel useless and sad – they have said far worse about you for years. If you can engage them in a deep and meaningful conversation you can be more specific and delicate in your abuse. Every young person has deep-seated anxieties that can be plucked like the strings of a lyre.

Pluck ’em. Pluck ’em all. I say. Smarmy little pluckers…

Funny Is Dangerous

I have discovered that funny is dangerous. Bit late, I hear you say, but remember that I was brought up on funny that had great timing and pauses between gags. And no bad words. Funny that wasn’t drunk at a pub.

Now I’m not talking about making fun of others – mocking them. We all know that’s dangerous when done in the wrong way or to the wrong person. There is even danger in doing it with the attention of the wrong audience. Instant retribution can erupt, the clockwork  of delayed revenge started, or one’s personal reputation demeaned. In some cases this is just punishment – in others it’s something gone horribly wrong. There are times when something genuinely is just a joke.

Now you cannot prevent yourself from falling down a fire-belching crack in the earth when it appears under your feet. If you are from New Zealand this may be during a morning trip to the grocers – you either perish shrieking or climb out and retrieve your string bag. This event is so common as to account for the laid-back nature of a lot of Kiwis.

But you can stop yourself from the fate by looking carefully at a map, noting if any streets are marked ” Fire-Belch Lane “, and then planning your shopping elsewhere. Smart money plays the odds. Equally so, you can plan your comedic sallies with an eye to where they go. If someone is a notable Basilisk, treat them with seriousness. Save the yoks for those who know how to smile.

I’ve misread maps before and ended up wrong. The comeback after a failed joke can be a cold journey – rough and comfortless. But you can come back, even if it is just yourself and your string bag. And you come back with information that you can mark on your social map. ” Here Be Dragons ” is knowledge that is hard got, but very valuable.

Sexual Favours – The XXX – Rated Piñata

We’ve all read that term;” sexual favours  ” and thought we knew what it meant. Ditto ”  sexual harassment “, ” sexual content “, etc. I put it to you that we have all been remiss in our reading – there are far more sexual phrases that need to be incorporated into our daily conversation.

a.” Sexual healing “.*

It really does have a place in medical textbooks. If you have just been through a six-month course of antibiotics, surgical drainage, and splints, you are entitled to use the term ” sexual healing “. Otherwise you are just singing a rather drippy pop song.

Don’t sit near me, if you please…just in case.

b. ” Sexual Slave “.

Well we’re really into the Mills and Boone bodice ripping here, aren’t we. Try not to slaver when you say it.

c. ” Sexual Appliance ”

If you think we are talking about something in a plain paper wrapper, let me explain. Sexual appliances are large stainless steel or white enamel machines that do dishes, bake dinners, wash laundry, and dry clothing. They are referred to as ” sexual ” because people of any sex can operate them to make the house cleaner and the dinner more nutritious.

d. ” Sexual Politics ”

Wait till you see the picture on the ” How To Vote ” card…Cor…

*  “Sexual Heeling ” …now we’re getting somewhere. Is that a stiletto heel you’re wearing or are you just glad to see me…?


The Shed In Cold Weather

The shed is where it all happens – at least the good parts. The parts where you actually build things instead of just consume them. If course it could also be argued that the office or draughting room is also where the intellectual part is, but that is splitting hairs. A good organisation has the office and draughting room attached to the workshop and people run in and out all day.

For me, the detached shed is a mixed blessing – I live in Western Australia and experience a pretty wide variation in temperature throughout the year…though to be sure it is on the upper part of the thermometer. This isn’t northern Canada or Russia. The range of temps in the place have gone from 4º to 52º – neither number makes for comfortable work.

Nor does it make for successful modelling, leatherwork, or household maintenance tasks. Scale model airbrush painting is a surprisingly sensitive business and can be affected by temperature, humidity, and air currents. I avoid it in very cold, hot, or windy conditions – which means there is sometimes a backlog of work needing to be done as i wait for reasonable conditions. Very frustrating, it must be, if one were a serial modeller -fortunately I am now a parallel worker and can switch to the next task on another model while I wait.

Big jobs in household maintenance also flag in bad conditions – However, they can sometimes be harnessed to serve. An example is our front door – it is a panelled thing with wood that sees raw sunlight at some part of the day. As a result, one panel has dried, flaked, and started to split. I am planning to wait until the summer and to pick a day that will have a hight temperature.

I’ll gird my old loins, demount the door, and take it into the shed. The outside surface will get the finish stripped off with a power sander and wire disks and then a stain and varnish finish – as well as some mechanical filling for the cracks. But I do not want the door off longer than one day, so it needs to be a day that will give very fast drying for the finishes. If need be, I’ll strip one day, remount to door overnight, and then start to finish early next day. I anticipate sweat and bad language, but it is far better than the price of a new door.

As for the modelling – I have adopted the practice of retreating into my air-conditioned computer and photography room when the temp climbs or dips too much. I’ve got a secondary work position in here that is useful for anything but spray painting or welding.


Permanently Wrong

Are you in danger of becoming permanently wrong? Take this simple test to find out:

a. Are you male or female or not? If you can say yes or no to any of these three, mark your scorecard with a ten.

b. Look at the colour of the skin on your right forearm. If it is any shade between palest white to deepest black mark another ten on your scorecard. Then look at your left forearm – if it is 15 shades darker than the right one you might consider not driving with your arm out the window. Reverse this in the UK, Australasia, Singapore, and Japan.

c. Are you old enough to vote? Mark another ten.

d. Did you vote? Ten again.

e. Do you hold a religious belief of any kind, or do you avoid any belief? Ten again, and now you can add up your score.

You should have 50 points. This proves that you are wrong. If you have less it proves you are wrong and dishonest, and if you have more than 50 it indicates that you are stupid.

How do we know? We have the internet, social workers, political parties, teenagers, and the leaders of think tanks to tell us so. No good you protesting that you can live your life perfectly well with whatever shape, size, colour, or ethnicity you have – you are wrong, and must be made to pay for your error.

The payment will be in guilt ( we’ll tell you what you are guilty of ) and fear ( again depend on us for this ) and money. The money will produce justice for everyone whom you have wronged. We’ll keep it in Switzerland or the Cayman islands so it is safe.

Pay up.