And now you’re set to take over the castle. At least now you’ll be obliged to be noble…
I once lived in a country dominated by a hereditary ruling clan – a ruthless lot who had the power to incarcerate enemies for indefinite periods for unspecified crimes. All the while demanding obeisance from everyone around them. And it wasn’t Arkansas under the Clintons…it was the UK.
Before that, and since, I have lived largely free from the scourge of noble rule – save for brief visits to Japan, Singapore, and a Packer casino. While my life has not been spectacular, it has been comfortable.
Set, as I am, in a land of crass egalitarianism, I pay little heed to the Gowings and Cummings of the titled nobodies. The supermarket tabloid that chronicles the way the Duchess looked askance at the Princess means nothing to me. If it is anything, it is a blob of colour in the corner of the eye next to the Kinder Surprise. I’m more interested in the chocolate anyway.
Why do we still have ruling families – both royal and noble? Why, when the whole world pretends to some semblance of democracy? Even if it is a warped joke like the Asian dictatorships, it still trumpets the rule of the people somewhere in its name. There may well be Asian nobles and princes and gauleiters in every corner but they still pretend to be humble.
I should be delighted if someone would be honest and put an end to the pretence. Admit that the rulers are not noble or royal – just rich in hidden bank accounts and powerful with armies of thugs. We can accept that – it is expected in most local councils and shires here anyway, and the CWA is apparently a hotbed of scandal and vice. Well, a lukewarm bed anyway…But they do a nice lamington.
Our cat is a noisy squalling animal that has formed a habit of constant meowing whenever he is in the house. Unfortunately years of rewarding this behaviour with food or attention has settled it in his nature. It is a trial late at night and has, on more than one occasion, resulted in him being locked out.
But I’ve noticed an interesting thing: there are a number of circumstances outside the house when he will give small cat greeting to ask to be let in but go no further…just wait patiently until someone can open the back door. or there may be a meow in passing but no further bother.
It is much more civilised, and may constitute social interaction of some sort.
4. Driver’s license.
6. University fees.
11. New clothing.
12. Medical expenses.
14. Job applications.
15. Relocation expenses.
Welcome to the world of adulting, teenage justice warrior. You may not have time to march in front of the state legislature/parliament house/television cameras/iphones of your friends for some time as you are now required to show up and do something worth getting paid for. Hint: keep your receipts and pay slips as you’ll need them to pay your taxes. If you do not wish to pay taxes remember that there is always the Al Capone Option. They have closed Alcatraz but Leavenworth is still going…
You may note that I have left out marriage and babies from the list. You’ll learn about them when you grow up.
There is slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.
If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…
Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…
I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.
In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.
This is an idea so cool that it needs to go viral. Or at least bacterial. Howzabout a pre-mixed pressure can of germs that can be purchased over the counter in any convenience store or chemist shop? With a fold-out nozzle like you get on a WD-40 can. Then you could spray a room or just one sandwich by merely flipping out the little red plastic tube.
We’re not talking plague here – or anthrax, smallpox, or Canadian politicians. This is just good old-fashioned gastro of the sit-on-the-pot-and-groan variety. Something you could pick up on public transport or at the library. Only instead of being a random occurrence, the BGA Butt Blaster Bug Bomb makes sure that the people who deserve to be ill are the ones who get to be.
Of course you’ll have to be responsible about its use. We make you sign a waiver at the counter stating that the BGA BBBB will not be used on babies or the elderly. We’re not monsters, you know. But everyone else is fair game, particularly if they have a sense of humour. Or not, as the case may be. You’ll find out pretty soon.
If the product proves popular, we are thinking of introducing a commercial size suitable for fast food restaurants and large private schools.
At the local post office I fell into conversation with the lady behind the counter as she clerked through a power bill. We have arrangements here in Australia to pay a lot of our things through the local Post Office and it’s a real time-saver, I can tell you.
Well, being the 2nd of January at the time, we wished each other a Happy New Year and agreed that we had survived the holiday season. We both looked tired. But then I told her not to get too comfortable, as Chinese New Year was coming at the end of the month – the 25th.
She is of Chinese ancestry so I reminded her that it’ll be two more weeks of family celebrations, preparations, food, expense, parties, having to stay up late wishing that everyone would just go home…while smiling brightly. And that she doesn’t qualify for the red envelopes any more because she’s too old – now she has to hand them out…
She laughed, but then looked concerned. How did I know all this? I’m not even vaguely Chinese…
Kid, we all have this sort of thing – no matter what our ethnicity or culture. 8 days of Hanukkah, 10 days of Rosh Hoshanah, 12 days of Christmas, Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Years slightly offset from all the rest of the country…The poor old Mussies have to go hungry all day for a month and the Hindus and Buddhists probably have something similar somewhere in their own calendars. We all get a season to be ever so jolly and I suspect we all enjoy the first couple of days but then sit smiling grimly until the thing finishes.
One thing to brighten our day, though. You might be sleep-deprived at the end of the fortnight here in Australia, but you’re not stuck on the platform of a Chinese railway station waiting to get home after it.
I have no idea why I do these things…except I am too old for playing truant to march to parliament house to see if I can get my picture on the news broadcast. Were I younger I would be at the barricades…selling half-bricks…
Anyway, I looked up ” noble ” in the computer’s internal dictionary. It divided the information into two parts:
a. A member of an aristocratic system of government.
b. A good or superior form of anything – a tree, a person, a metal…
I think I’m reading a crock. As far as I can tell, the nobles and royalty everywhere are no different from the common herd of sinners, except in having more opportunity to practice abominations and a get-out-of-trouble bloodline that they can flash at the police when they get caught. Nobility would seem to be anything but good and superior.
Yet, we are stuck with them. The worship of the King, Emperor, Sheik, Sultan, or whomever is carefully taught and rigorously enforced by the people in whose interest s it is to be obeyed. Solemn oaths of fealty are demanded, even when the people to whom loyalty is to be given are vile. I’m stuck with one oath myself, contracted for in 1970 when I became and Australian citizen. The ” Heirs and Assigns ” clause and so on.
I am going to get as much advice as I can about the effect of the Australia Act of 1989 and whether it legally absolves me of having to be obedient to the coming king, his sleazeball brother, or any of the other choices that are on the platter. I don’t mind being loyal, faithful, and law-abiding to a mythical construct, but let it be a figurehead rather than some other portion of the body…