The Dishes

Doing the dishes seems to have been the underlying theme through most of my life.

It was one of the first of the ” chores ” that was assigned to me as a kid – in exchange, I suppose, for my weekly allowance. This was never stinted, I might add, and I was as free to spend or save it as my understanding might dictate. But the dishes were always there.

They are still here. Two or three times daily there is a fill up of the basins – detergent in one and fresh in the other, and the results of four people cooking and eating are dealt with. I do not include the cat as a person – I am able to distinguish species – but the cat dishes get done as well.

In truth I should not complain.

a. If I am doing dishes it is because we have eaten. We had enough money to buy food, a stove to cook it on, and plates to bear it. Being fed is better than being hungry, even if you work afterwards as well as before.

b. We have dishes that can stand cleaning. The people who eat off paper plates or flimsy plastic dishes do themselves, the food, and the environment no good.

c. If it was really that onerous a task, we could buy a dishwashing machine. But we’ve never used one that was satisfactory and the addition of another complexity to life is unappetizing. Just scrub and wipe dry.

All this having been said, it is a pleasure sometimes to take a meal elsewhere – a hotel or restaurant – where the staff may pester for tips or to move you on, but they cannot compel you to the soapy water torture. It makes holiday eating a pleasure.

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Well, We Never Killed Anybody…

I was busy adjusting the world the other day with my friend Warren – we meet during the week to condemn the guilty and praise the worthy. It is a mad session of tea and biscuits.

We agreed that we have both been very fortunate – his time as an airframe rigger in the Royal Australian Air Force did not result in any crashes or loss of life. For my part, my time as a dental surgeon did not result in any fatalities or overweening infections. We can both sleep soundly of a night with no ghosts haunting us.

But it begs the question; how many of the people we know can say the same, in their own fields of endeavour? We know many of the same people, and then others in different social sets…somewhere in that lot is bound to be a death or despair. A bankruptcy or suicide. A soul that was lost because of something that someone did…

I don’t want to know the answer to the question. It would colour my perception of the persons involved – even if there was no possibility of redemption or repair. Far better to remain ignorant of it.

This may not sound like the thing that the Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia should say…but there is a difference between deliberate and artistic evil-doing and mere accidental disaster. I would far rather ambush a bus full of orphans with a 17 pounder than run over a cat with a Suzuki…

Warren is not so fussy. He has a new truck and is more impatient than I – he is hunting for lane-changing idiots on the road. I can hear the maniacal laughter now…

 

 

Visiting The Old Country From The New Country

How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:

They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.

They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.

Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.

Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.

This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.

Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.

I’m Not Sorry I Met You…

I just regret that it was at a dinner-dance and not the morgue.

We can all think of people we wish we had never encountered. Ex-partners, schoolyard bullies, dishonest employers, social-club sponges, etc. Of course there are people we regret for the sake of the world; Putin, Trudeau, Mussolini, etc. but they are somewhat removed from our own circle and in most cases we need not take any responsibility for whatever it is that they have done. They are roaches that have not run over our feet.

By the same token, we must be fair – there are undoubtedly people in the world who think of us as unmitigated blisters and regret our acquaintance.  We’ll know of some but be surprised to learn of others – it is a sobering moment when you find out that a friend regards you badly. What we do about this discovery depends upon our characters and the time-frame involved…if the revelation comes in the middle of soup while dining at the Bishop’s palace, all you can really do is continue slurping and excuse yourself after the savoury. Or pour the tureen over your enemy. Equally good.

The best time of all is to be had watching two separate individuals who have both confided  previously in you that they detest the other…and then see them brought together by  circumstance and forced to be civil. If you can arrange the meeting, so much the better. Just be close by as the atmosphere cools and the language stiffens. It is better than a play, though not quite as good as an Auto da Fé.

Is it fair to set these things up? No, of course it isn’t. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here is how you do it:

a. Determine who hates whom. Only the loudest of mouths will advertise themselves in this way – the others need careful attention and the occasional trick question. Try Donald Trump as a touchstone for this and ask if anyone in the social circle reminds your victim of Trump. Or use Justin Trudeau, if you don’t mind the sort of language this will generate.

You goal is not to find someone who hates everybody, but someone who dislikes someone – in particular. It need not be overweening hatred – distaste will do nicely. Then find out if the object of this negative emotion entertains a reciprocal dislike for the first person. If they do, you have your fighting pair.

b. Bring them together. Social club gathering are good for this, as are barbeques, theatre nights, and sporting events. If you can arrange things well, you will have major ingredients to hand with little obvious work.

The ingredients? A crowd who knows one another and who is drinking alcohol. This gives you an audience and a chemical that relaxes natural caution while fuelling passion.

Find a space that does not allow either party to stay aloof to start with nor to escape readily as things heat up. Like a fission reaction, it must all be contained for a microsecond to build up enough pressure to detonate.

c. Introduce a topic upon which they disagree. It need be no more than the correct way to spike tyres – the main thing is to arrange it so that they are both right in the eyes of themselves, wrong in the eyes of others, and unable to back away from the fight. Politics, religion, and sex are always good for this. If you can get them to fight over nothing that anyone else understands it is even better.

d. Try to calm them down by reminding them that people are watching. This will have the effect of making more people watch. See if you can get people to video it on a mobile phone and to be seen by the combatants doing so….It is encouraging and modern.

Make peace by telling them that they are grown-ups. This will bring out the childishness. If you can go beyond shouting and scuffles to actual hair pulling and scratching, you have a chance for a viral YouTube clip. Your combatants will cherish this in years to come.

 

 

The Crayfish Pot

Lobster pot to the readers in Maine. The underwater fish trap that lets a crayfish in but doesn’t let it out again – until it is hauled up to the surface and boiled alive. I have just received a mild boiling by my bank.

The bait was the Mastercard that I use for so many transactions nowadays – petrol, liquor, overseas purchases, dinners, etc. My habit is to pay it off regularly once a month – pay it to the penny, and incur no interest charges.

Then in December I looked at my Mastercard statement and misread the required amount – misread it by $ 2.70 and underpaid it. In the month that has passed an interest charge has accrued of $24.70…

It’s all legal, and it sits there biting and biting and biting each day that passes. And it is what bites people into irrecoverable debt. Trapped in the crayfish pot.

I shall not take the tinsnips to the Mastercard. It can ride with me in my wallet for the emergency aid that it might be – but I am headed back to the bank with my chequebook to  pay the entire debt I owe – as of this day – and will not be using it for transactions that can be done with cash in the future.

It’s probably a $ 35 dollar lesson in economics by now…but I’ll pay it and remember.

 

Does Not Laugh – Can Not Laugh…

These individuals are related to Should Not Laugh and Will Not laugh. They are a close-knit family and support each other in silence.

a. Does Not Laugh. Never been seen to do so, and no-one has really seen DNL smiling either. In fact the thought of a smile is somewhat un-nerving. What would cause it? If jokes, cartoons, movies, songs and YouTube videos of mobile cranes falling into holes does not raise a titter, what would? The mind turns to darker things…

b. Can Not Laugh. This is actually sad, and may draw some sympathy from all of us. CNL has so many worries and woes that nothing seems funny . Nothing may never have, though we hope CNL might have had some fun at some stage of the game. People hope that this is only temporary, and try out new routines to see if they can get a smile.

c. Should Not laugh. Well, if you’re sitting on the magistrate’s bench – or for that matter sitting on the magistrate – the dignity of the court demands that you keep a sober mein. LIkewise police officers, air traffic controllers, and high church dignitaries. The Queen is allowed to crack up occasionally as no-one can say her nay. So are various presidents of various other nations, though some do it better than others. Angela Merkel on a laughing jag is not a pretty sight.

d. Will Not laugh. WNL is the pompous pain in the potatoes who denies any recognition of humour – probably because that would reward the joker. WNL is mean and tight and arrogant…which is why he or she seems to become the butt of satirical humour. Oddly enough, even some satirical writers – especially if they exist on the fringes of real journalism or real writing – exhibit this characteristic too. In their case it is fear of being bettered by someone with a new joke.

Coffee Machine’s Busted

And I am not all that unhappy.

Not that the loss of a domestic appliance is a good thing – particularly as I am a  person who likes the coffee that came out of it, and have several boxes of pods orphaned by the loss. ( Note I recycle the pods in accordance with the latest virtue-signalling on Facebook and produce pure oxygen and small kittens…)

The repairman charged for his time and diagnosis – which I understand completely. The prognosis was poor – the entire brewing unit would need replacing at $ 249. This is more expensive than many of the new coffee makers available in electrical stores – and they come with the correct warranties and even some cash-backs.

So it looks as though my Christmas is sorted. I should have liked liquor or model airplanes, but I realise that some things – like coffee – are essentials in modern life. I can Nescafé it the rest of the day, but after dinner is more serious.