If you look, Heaven shows you a new story every day. But sometimes doesn’t let you see the beginning or the ending…
Today I pulled out onto my normal neighbourhood highway – Leach Highway. A small Subaru sedan passed on the inside lane, driving perfectly well. It was fitted with a single cross-roof luggage bar. Like the cops use when they put lights or sirens up there.
But the Subaru was fitted with life-size artificial animals on that bar. Riding proudly in the wind, facing forwards. A large white chicken, a larger black rooster, two fat budgerigars, and a black-and-white rabbit. All made, presumably, of plastic. No other sign or symbol on the car save the normal number plate…
Or Saturday, when I travelled up the Mitchell Freeway and was passed by a motor cycle with a small black and white pug dog riding on the pillion seat, leaning into the wind and weaving from side to side with the rider as he went in and out of the cars. He looked to be in no distress whatsoever.
There’s two stories I would love to find out about, but will never know.
I am going to try a new one on the South Asian phone scammers.
When the next one rings up – and there will be a next one, no fear – I am going to offer to send them money. I shall be polite and sincere.
It should lead to them ringing off instantly…as it is far from what they have been told to expect from their victims. If they are intrigued and ask how much or how I will send it to them, I shall offer them $ 1000 – and ask to which postal address it should be sent. This, again, should lead to them ringing off in confusion.
But there may be a newbie in the stream room and they might give me their address.
Oh Boy, could I have fun with that…
But give me time – I may be able to improve upon that.
The real topic of today’s column is not whether it is bad to hate or good to love. ( or vice versa ) but whether it is possible to exercise either emotion in a sensible and correct amount.
” I love/hate you forever, with all my might, and every fibre of my being! “…makes a pretty good political platform or set of lyrics for a nightclub singer. It invites excess – lust, stabbing, coy eye fluttering, and worse. It is the stuff of bad theatrical performance – suited to the puerile rather than the pure. The raw emotion of it horrifies the sophisticated mind, in whatever quarter of the world it may reside. I propose a careful alternative; graduated emotion. I’ll love or hate you on a sliding scale of imperceptible increments.
Let’s take a set of people with whom I have never had contact – and who I never expect to visit – the Andaman Islanders. They are that savage little band on the East Indian island who attack and murder anyone who tries to come ashore. They are rather like the Japanese used to be before the 19th century, but probably without sushi.
Their nearest neighbours – the Indians – really want very little to do with them, and unless they strike oil in the islands, the savages will probably be able to keep on murdering unwary intruders. No-one else seems to want to deal with them.
Now, how much should I love the Andaman islanders? How much should I hate them? Can I just leave them in a limbo of indifference without incurring the wrath of the social media set? I think I can.
And if this extreme example can be so consigned – until the Andaman Islanders knock on the door and ask to come in – can I do the same to a lot of other people? I should be relieved if I thought that someone could take no harm nor good from me …nor I them. One less meme-storm to have to wade through on Facebook.
I’ll still have a soft spot in my heart for you, my readers. Just don’t expect it to spread to my head.
Impelled by a recent comment on Facebook, I am going to have to make a confession. I have left suspicious stains on the moral fabric. The dry cleaner says he doesn’t care to put it through the machine and the Anglican Op Shop has refused to resell it. So I am stuck with it.
It would not be so bad if I had thought at the time to soak my morality on water. Or bleach. Or nitric acid. But it is too late – the telltale marks of depravity are there for all to see. The best I can do is draw around them with a Texta and pretend it is batik.
Of course I am not alone in this. There are several other people in here. The run around at night and bump into the coffee table. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would pay for some of the utility bills or at least remember to turn off the dryer. The pointers on the electricity meter box dials spin around like propellers on a Wright Cyclone bomber engine. Some days it looks like a suburban house and some days like the ” Memphis Belle “.
I do turn to the sacred texts when it all becomes too much. ” Bradshaw ” and ” The Almanach de Gotha ” are a great comfort late at night. My copy of the trigonometric tables for 1923 sits on the night stand. So do I, when the weather is warm.
I have overcome my fear of spiders – I like the little ones and tolerate the big ones. The venomous ones get squashed if they are under my workbench but let alone if they are elsewhere.
I have also overcome my horror of skeletons. My Walt Disney-induced fear left me when I had to study skulls in university. Owning one cures you of the dread.
But I have never been able to contemplate an open letter without aversion. They are an open trapdoor to the pit of folly, envy, and dishonour. I have been brought to this reflection by a note on social media that features an ” open letter ” published by someone who wants other people to listen to, and possibly obey her.
Open letters in this context are no more than crude pamphlets that do not have the courage to show their vulgarity with multiple fonts and typefaces. They are generally couched in language that suggests an intimacy and concern on the part of the writer – intimacy that tries to get the reader to go further into the letter than they would otherwise do. The style of them varies, but the closest that they ever come to honesty is when a blackmailer sends a threat and a money demand and signs it ‘ A Friend ‘.
Other open letters are those that may be left about to announce what the legitimate recipient of the note wishes known but is too afraid to announce. They are rarely about Lotto wins.
Of course, some closed letters are open letters as well – the blue frighteners sent by dunning agencies and the traffic infringement notices are both designed to be seen by all who handle them and pronounce guilt even before the envelope is opened.
Have you ever read an opened letter on the desk of someone else? Or read their note pad upside down? Or gone through their computer when it was unattended? Or every drawer in their house while they were on vacation? Or tied them up in the basement and beat them with chains while questioning them about the whereabouts of their relatives?
If so, you may be qualified to write open letters.
We have a joke around the office. He’s a relative of the manager and we can’t fire him.
But he has got a merry quip: ” There’s more to price than Vincent…” This will give you an idea what noontime in the lunchroom with him is like and why I eat out.
But there is a kernel of truth there. Price is the thing that determines so much of what we see – from the colour of the French Army’s uniforms to the demise of the suburban garden, so much has come about because of money. Everyone wants a bigger share of the pie and has the crust to take it.
If you make truth expensive and hard to get – like the truths found in astronomical research or the truth of what happens to the maple syrup in waffle holes – you set it away from all but the richest corporations, universities, and military establishments. Oh, they’ll spend the money and they’ll get the truth but no-one else will be able to match it. People might save up to get small sets of truth but who could hope to be able to buy their own Hubble Telescope or Waffle House. In this instance a truth seller must decide whether they will go for the impossibly big market or the improbably small one.
On the other hand, if truth is underpriced it will be undervalued. This is the fate of many philosophers and divines who have decided to feely give their knowledge to the world – they live in tubs or stone cells and no-one gives a damn about them. And no-one cares about the things they say either. They need to make the truth more expensive to make it stick. Horse dung mixed with it will also make it stick in some circumstances.
The fine point of pricing will be found when the buyer can afford a standard truth with a solid whitewash paint job but can be enticed to take the ever-so-slightly garish metallic-finished one at $ 400 more. If they can be persuaded to add on a coat of protective varnish, so much the better. You can varnish truths as well as you can varnish lies and frequently you use the same varnish.
Should you price secondhand or reconditioned truth at a much lower price? Surprisingly, no. Even commonplace blandishments that have had the advantage of being out there for a longer period mean more people since have heard them secondhand, and they have gained a hard shell of respectability. That in itself is a selling point. If they look a little worn you can just say it is the patina of approval and no-one will be bold enough to call out ” Road Apples! “.
Come to think of it, if you can include something to do with apples in your advertising you can generally find someone who is prepared to believe ANYTHING…
I am firmly putting my foot down and ordering members of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia not to vote for the candidate. Far too much has been made of this up to now and it is time to nip it in the bud.
Disregard the newspaper reports and the television sound bites. Never mind the candidates debate and the polls. Your Guild will tell you who to vote for, and will be checking later that you did the right thing. Woe betide the member who puts their X in the wrong box.
Of course, due consideration will be given to the preferential voting system and the trading of votes after the polls are closed. This is a normal and natural part of democracy and the Australian Way – think of it as the parliamentary version of meat pies and kangaroos. One contains the other, in many cases…
If you are at all concerned that the candidate that the Guild selects is not going to win in your constituency, contact the Guildhall and let us know. We cannot send out gangs to break the legs of rival supporters in every constituency – we need to target the most urgent ones. Now is the time to put in your request. In areas where we cannot guarantee to deliver your fracture in time we will post you a do-it-yourself kit consisting of a pick handle and a roll of smiley stickers.
We have received requests from Guild members who have dual citizenship about voting in European or American elections. This is fine – vote for the European candidate in America and vice versa. It will do them all good and provide welcome relief at the polling stations.
Please note: No interference will be exerted in determining the results of voting in the Backstabbers Guild of Australia elections. This would be unfair, unconscionable, and un-hygienic. As we never hold elections it would also be unnecessary.