The Portrait Portrays

Or betrays. Then it is known as a betrait…

We are all accustomed to internet posts that have an image of the author at the introduction. The facility with which an actual photo can be added to a social site is marvellous – but few people realise what they are either showing or seeing. Frequently the picture trips up both poster and viewer.

I use a construct – a picture taken of myself in the studio wearing my dad’s old khaki shirt ( 60+ years old and still going strong ) a freebie hat I got from Nikon – with their trademark struck out – a pair of binoculars, and a 1:18 scale plastic fighter plane. You are encouraged to think I am an admiral on an aircraft carrier. I particularly admire the resolute look on my face. I think it is most probably wind…

Other people use pictures that have been sliced from phone cameras or worse. They are lucky to be recognisable. A phone selfie in a bathroom making a duck face is a poor advertisement for a duck, let alone a person.

One person I’ve noticed, an internet troll, uses a quasi-mysterious selfie with roiling edges and the expression of a dyspeptic llama. It’s ugly, but damned accurate. He cannot be accused of deceptive trading.

As opposed to these travesties, some people use genuinely beautiful images as their trademarks. It’s a wise move, and even if they do not match up to the image in real life, the picture is so much more with us that we remember it instead of them. It’s a mistake to steal someone else’s beauty, but if you can pay for at least one good shot of yourself, it’s money well spent.

The no-image introduction, or the cartoon character presented in lieu, are as telling as any real image. The person does not wish to give anything away – either of themselves or of their time. Whatever they write is not backed up with any veracity of personal presence – and can generally be flicked over instantly. You can brand yourself well or badly and get the attention of the populace, but when you are a faceless opinion you lose most of your credibility. Even if all you post is a picture of the either end of your alimentary canal, you are making a genuine contact.

I must show you my collection of orifices some time.




The Thing That They Took Away From You…

You know – that…thing. You remember – all those years they took that thing away from you. Your teachers did it using the school system. Then your employers did it. All those years.

” What thing? ” I hear you say? ” What’s missing? I got good marks in school and I got a good job. I’ve been going to it for years. I’m still going to it every morning. ”

And you’re coming home from it every evening, with a bit of luck. You’ll need a fair amount of money to do this – money for bus or train fare or money for the car and all its expenses. And you’ll be busy for a while. If you commute from an outer suburb into a city centre or ravel across town on the freeway, you’ll be spending time waiting on platforms or standing on a crowded vehicle as it grinds between stops. You’ll be banked up at the freeway on-ramp and then again at the off-ramp. If it’s cross town you’ll get to see many lights. Red, green, yellow, and then repeat…

The thing they all took from you was the time of your life. You didn’t have it sailing or fishing or dancing or reading novels. You didn’t have it in your hobby room or in bed with your partner. You didn’t have it in the garden or the library. You had it on the train platform or the bus stop or in the car and then it was gone…

You won’t get back the thing they took. But if you are smart you’ll figure out some way to stop giving them any more of it. Sell from home, write from home, invest from home. Make your food at home. Or do it at such a short distance from your bed that you can walk to where you do it. Then you can use the thing to your own advantage.

I’m being sort of smug about this as I have retired and am in the years of play again. I do have a once-a-week bout with morning traffic when I go to my hobby club but I can avoid it on all other occasions. I am not saving time – I’m spending it in the best way I know how.

How to Book Your Trip To Coventry

In the last two years  – as a retired person – I have been in touch with many of the people I knew whilst in employment. Some of them are now retired as well. In the case of two of them, I think they were subject to a form of adult bullying in this.

In both cases the businesses for which they worked underwent major changes – in one case bankruptcy and sale of the firm to a rival and in the other, establishment of entirely new premises. I hasten to add the firms concerned were separate ones in two widely differing trades.

In both cases, however, while you might have expected the new management in the one company or the old management in the new building to keep on their most experienced people, this did not prove to be the case. They fired ( retired ) the two people in question but gave as their reason complaints from other staff members.

I am not privy to any of their affairs, but I suspect this is bushwah – neither individual is dishonest or bad mannered. They could not have been as they were both concerned with their own forms of retail trade and dealt with hundreds of customers per week. I think there may have been staff rivalries that were used as levers to sack them. And I think it was a foolish thing.

But, folly or not, it would appear that what was intended as a kiss of death from the other employees may have turned into precisely the opposite. I regularly see reports of hobby activities, trips, and sporting ventures from the two chaps and I suspect they are having the time of their lives. They, like myself, are getting more accomplished now that ever before.

If they were sent to Coventry, they went first-class, and are enjoying the trip. Coventry can be a very pleasant place.

Dining At The Seniors Table

Having come to the conclusion that my spring chicken days are quite some little time ago, I can approach senior’s events with a little more equanimity. One week I attended one that seemed to be organised partially as a sales meeting and partially as an entertainment. I hasten to add, I was part of the sales and not the entertainment, though I did my best.

I do not begrudge the governmental agency nor the private telecommunications firm the opportunity they took to use a seniors recreation organisation to bring in potential customers – they also disseminated very useful information for the old folks and didn’t beat them on the head to get money out of them.

The venue was also well-chosen. A central point served by  buses as well as having extensive free parking and a large, warm meeting hall. With freebies, welcoming coffee and cupcakes, and a free lunch, it was as hospitable as you could ever ask for.

My part – table attendant and salesman for the old camera shop where I used to be employed – was easy work to do and I welcomed a chance to run some of the old communications skills up again. I can be very sympathetic to older folk and tailor the conversation to suit their ( our…) needs. I think I’d be a good senior salesman still if it did not involve standing for 8 hours and trying to deal with impossible computer programs.

Did the old folks get something out of the day? I like to think so – I’m sure we gained new customers for the shop and training facility if it can be made comfortable for them to come and visit. And I think I had a very good idea for the  Photo Live 2018 trade day later in the year – based upon dealing with seniors as a senior. Hope my voice holds up.

Well, Well, Well…

For those of you wondering how the workplace contretemps finished, I can say that it finished very well.

Pardon was asked, given, and registered by all concerned. A proposal for a way of avoiding the problem in the future was put forward ( by me ) and accepted. I shall benefit from protection against any business problem in the future.

Thank you, Lord Chesterfield, for your cogent advice. Thank you as well, Dr. Franklin, for yours. I shall certainly take it. Of course, Nicolo, you are generally right about the way things are governed by princes, and I shall also review your excellent text to make sure I miss nothing.


Good Morning, Sir. How May I Hell You?

Everyone should work retail at some point in their lives.

Indeed, I’ll go further than that – they should also, at some point:

a. Work personal service – wait tables, attend a public desk, man the complaints counter.

b. Work publicity. Write copy, draw illustration, serve at a promo show. Think up the bullshit and then have to spread it…

c. Work in dirt. Even if it is just a personal garden, everyone should work in dirt until they get a good result.

d. Work in a position that is monitored by a jealous and vindictive overseer. This may be a person or a professional board.

e. Work in a workshop. Whatever they produce makes no difference – it will cement their character if they can eventually do it well.

f. Work to a deadline. And fail once, and then succeed once, to know the difference in the way it feels.

g. Work to a financial bottom line. Unless they have had to watch the pennies, they’ll never know how to accumulate the pounds.

h. Work in a job where they were in command. Command of the job and command of other people.

If they have done all or most of these things, they are well-rounded individuals. But they mustn’t get cocky – so is the Michelin Man. And he gets tyred sometimes…

No… back to the topic. People who vault to command without ever experiencing the reality of work live in an unreal world and make false decisions. People who never rise also never see what command should be – there is always a battle between them and others that is detrimental to business. There needs to be a shared experience to share in effective management and effective employment.



Old Coot And The Yearly Rush

A great many things happen annually, and old coots have seen enough years to know the schedule. The fact that they cope with the pressures is not because of superior intellect or courage – it is just that we know most things are soap bubbles anyway.

Take the holidays –Any holidays. We know from long experience that there will be a whole lot of things – goods, rituals, promotions, events, that are just a commercial hype. This extends through all cultures – the center of most celebrations is generally somewhere near a marketplace and the sellers are all in favour of that. The buyers are stimulated with slogans, pressure, advertisements, pressure, guilt, pressure, trite music, pressure, and greed. Did I mention pressure?

Old coots are just as susceptible as younger people to all this, but most of us peak out at about 15 minutes and don’t give much of a shit afterwards. We’ll go shopping but not for long. And we’ll buy, but not for much. Where you can really get us is at the coffee shop or the soft couch as we sit there and chill out.

Of course we are despised for this – all idle people are despised by the busily employed. It is disconcerting at first but as soon as you realise that it is inevitable, you can relax and drive the busy folk mad with inconsequential things. Do it nicely, do it politely, do it well…but do it repeatedly. And remember that a happy smile can go a long way towards infuriating someone.

If there is a yearly rush for a festival, you can also participate, – but remember that there was one of these last year and there will be one again next year. You needn’t cram the entire thing into your psyche in one hit. It is never going to be as good as it was and it is never going to be as good as it could be, but it can still be good.

A rush for payment of a council bill? Pay as quickly as you can, but there’s a secret – if you pay some and let them know that you’ll continue to pay more, they will be satisfied to wait. Show good intention and the thing is quite civilised.

Any more rushes? Generally not. You’ll not be rushing to replace your car nor to catch the latest clothing fashion. No-one can rush you to the altar at your age. If you are stubborn and inconsiderate you can prevent them from rushing you to the graveyard as well. Eat regular, sleep well, and you can irk your relatives something chronic.