Thank You For Something

I used to occasionally lapse into gloom about all the things in life that went wrong. I wasn’t  qualified to do it on the part of other people, but I could look at my own history and pick out the mouldy bits. The problem is that once I started looking, I kept on looking.

I’ll bet you’ve done this too…wasn’t it a pain?

My solution to it turned out to be a list. Actually two lists – the List Of Desires and the Untouchable List. I’ve written about these on this column before. The one is sometimes known as the Bucket List and the other has a ruder name….

The List Of Desires gets a look-in every so often to see if a Window Of Glorious Opportunity has opened. So far, no, but a Small Service Hatch Of Possibility swings ajar every now and then and I get to do small things. These are inordinately pleasing in their rarity.

The Untouchable List gets an annual review, but for a very much shorter time. Look at it too long and I brood, but I must look at it briefly to remind myself of topics to avoid and people to shun. A quick peep and then snap the catch back closed.

Now, what am I grateful for? Well, I’ve met people who maintain a list as well, but it is an unholy combination of my two – adapted to their lives. They have a record of everyone who they consider has done them wrong and upon whom revenge may be taken. Whether it will happen or not, the existence of the list is disturbing in the extreme. You cannot know of it without wondering whether your name is on it somewhere.

The gratitude is realising that I’ve been able to put happiness and distress into two separate boxes and that they both have close-fitting lids. I can decide whether to open them or leave them shut.

My Head Does Not Hurt

My back, on the other hand, is a bitch this morning. Never pick up artillery shells without bending your knees.

Or, in my case, a cardboard box, a magazine, or a handful of feathers. It could have been any one of these that did the harm…or reaching up for a box of cornflakes on a high shelf. When it comes to backs, nothing is safe.

There are remedies, of course. Braces, Voltaren, hammering carpet tacks down the spine. All equally good. You can often alleviate the symptoms by dousing the affected part with rye whiskey from the inside. The back thing prevents you from changing the oil on your Volvo tractor, gardening, or sitting in hard church pews for 4 hours straight. But then normal good sense does this as well, and you aren’t curled up like a caterpillar for a week.

It is a passing complaint, and I’ll let it pass without afflicting it on too many others. The level of sympathy generally hovers between minuscule and zero and sometimes dips into the negative zone if the family think they can laugh at me unpunished. I don’t get upset at this – I just write it all down on my Revenge List and wait until they bend over and pick up a heavy laundry basket and let out that little yelp…

Be Careful Who You Curse

Note: For the North American market – curse here doesn’t mean foul language or swearing – it means actually drawing the wrath of whatever down upon your enemies. You can swear all you like.

The business of cursing someone is a serious one. You should not do it lightly nor wantonly. You must reserve it for occasions when it is really necessary. This is not because your curses will lose potency if they become too common – it is because they may very well precipitate disaster for the victim.

Calling down the wrath of Heaven ( or raising a similar affliction from Hell ) should never be a matter of petulance or smart aleck behaviour. Both Heaven and Hell have more important things to do than act as your minions. Do not invoke them unless it is a serious matter indeed. They are not patient.

Consider before you curse whether there is another, milder, way to resolve the problem – a fist fight or stabbing or somesuch. If you have access to anti-tank artillery, use that. It is far kinder to put a 17-pounder round through someone’s door than to spit on a coin and throw it across their threshold. The AT shell will only make a big hole – the coin will destroy anything it touches – lives, reputations, businesses, etc.

Do not curse if a blessing would prove more helpful. Or damaging. Blessings are generally more acceptable to Heaven, though they may not be acted upon. It is the optional nature of the thing that lets them be racked up on a spike and attended to whenever there is enough spare time. Curses need answering right now.

Of course, the right now may be in galactic terms. Many of them take generations to come to fruition and people who are eventually sitting there covered in dung do not connect the actions of their ancestors to their fate. This may not seem to be rewarding to the cursor ( or is that curser? I can never tell. ) but if you take time to see far enough into the future you can get some inkling of the effect. The first American Indians who let tobacco loose upon mankind  probably never saw a lung cancer case in their short lives – but they can look down from the Happy Hunting Ground now and see what a curse they unleashed.

The reader of this essay who is skeptical about it will not draw a curse from me. They are free to think for themselves. But they are directed to enquire about the fate of the Han’s Café business.


It’s Only Revenge If I Say So

We’re always seeing that old French saw about revenge being a dish best tasted cold. Or the Chinese advice that he who digs a grave for and enemy must dig two – one for himself. Or watching ” The Princess Bride ” and Inigo Montoya’s long running gag about revenge. But very few of us really get a chance to practise any of these for ourselves – because there is rarely a chance for revenge per se.

This is a little unsatisfying, whichever end of the moral scale you wish to balance upon. You don’t really get a chance to be good or bad. The thing that you have to do is take whatever happens as revenge. Then you are never disappointed.

First off, is there really a need for revenge? If someone has robbed you and has gone beyond any possibility of capture, taking the loot beyond any possibility of recovery…you really are never going to have revenge and/or justice. All you’ll get for reviewing and reliving the robbery is sadder more distressed.

In this case there is no revenge  – and you need to put all the psychological pressure you feel under to a different purpose. If you can turn it to making yourself happy by some means – activity or study or meditation  – you can work through it an actually get a positive return. You’ll never get it from the guilty party, so make it for yourself.

Secondly, If revenge is possible for some hurt, what sort will it be?

Legal? That can sometimes be done through the justice system if the thing is a serious enough criminal affair. It will be taken out of your hands and you may be just a part of the evidence and the story. If this happens, review your moral stocks and see if you can forgive the crim or at least let it become neutral enforcement of the law. If you start to inwardly cheer at their downfall, you risk becoming a sort of monster yourself.

Illegal? Well, there are degrees of illegal, but they each go athwart the law that governs us all – and real examples of successful revenge gotten by criminal activity are rare. We can read George Hayduke books and listen to pub stories all we want but in the end they are just made-up tales. If you do illegal activities, you stand a chance of being the one in front of the magistrate.

But what about the opposite approach. The revenge of kindness. The revenge that forgives the offender? That works surprisingly well if they are at all amenable to reason. If not, it is wasted effort, and may draw more scorn on us than we had in the first place.

If, however, the offender is a person who values a social position, public forgiveness can be very effective revenge. Most people who can be wakened to a sense of sin wish it to be a secret thing. Make it public by forgiving them where others can take note and you apply a good deal of pressure backwards in time. As we’ve said before, if you forgive someone at the same time every day for a month, they will never again look at that time on the clock without trembling.

Best revenge? Well, the best revenge is time. If you are lucky it eventually soothes the wound and removes the hurt. If you are really lucky it removes the memory of the face and demeanour of the offender, and as there is the certainty that you will meet them again in the street one day…your passage without recognising them will show them their basic powerlessness. Make sure of one thing – someone who has done you a serious injury will never forget you – if you truly forget them, and they know it, it will be as acid in their soul.

The Glitter Bomb Parcel

For the one person on the continent who has not seen the YouTube video of the glitter bomb parcel that punishes package thieves, we’ll suspend this column and wait…

Okay. Back again?  Good wasn’t it? You really wanted it to work, didn’t you…including the fart spray?

But did you notice a few things about the thieves? Some were black and driving around in packs, but some were white, driving an expensive car around alone…but still stealing parcels. The couple out for a stroll in the neighbourhood were just getting good exercise…while they stole parcels. The constant factor for Winnetka, Illinois ( where it was filmed ) is that people steal parcels.

Here in Perth I daresay we have some parcel thieves as well – from druggies and vagrants to bored teenagers and hunter-gatherer packs from squalid suburbs. But it may be less of a problem due to less packages being left. I spoke to a friend in the courier business and he detailed some of the problems there can be in actually getting things to the doorsteps of houses that will not allow a close approach – but who still want unattended drops. Some of the recipients sound like they are not thinking the thing through.

Again, there can be some delivery firms – thankfully not the one that my friend works for – that have a cavalier attitude to actual delivery. They may skip up to the door and ring the bell, but run away without waiting for the arthritic or hard of hearing to get to the door. Then the sequence of trying to collect a parcel from some distant depot starts, and you wonder if any on-line shopping is worth the hassle.

I’m lucky, my parcels are generally delivered by a very nice Indian man who waits for me to get to the door and passes the time of day with me as we sign for things. I can feel confident that he does not leave me in the lurch. And I will have no need to develop my own glitter bomb. Though I may make up a few fart spray presents for birthdays. People do appreciate an effort…

The New Propaganda And The Old Audience


Or is it the other way round?

I have books of propaganda in my library that are absolutely scurrilous. Murderous tomes that I have difficulty approaching, but which I keep for the insight that they give into the minds of their authors, and by extension, to the minds of their readers. I must admit I have not been able to read more than a single chapter of one of them, but will steel myself to do more when I can. Not in cold or depressing weather, however…

Several of the books are picture books – compilations of Asiatic propaganda put out by communist nations to indoctrinate their people. They are crass, lurid, and, in many cases, crude. But they do have a visual appeal derived from a simplistic attitude of right/wrong and Asian racism overlain with Marxist and Maoist messages. Chairman Mao looks happy.

Now that my Australian friends on Facebook have taken to pushing their “share” button so freely in the run-up to the American elections I have also started a series of daily postings of images taken from these picture books with anti-Clinton captions. This will irk some of the most passionate of Facebookers, but probably delight at least one Trump supporter.

The important thing to realise is that I am not an American citizen and my opinion on the suitability of either of the candidates in their election is invalid. I have no right to say one way or the other. Neither do the vast majority of my Facebook friends here in Australia. The sad thing is I know it and they don’t…or at least don’t care.

So I will gleefully post what are no more than cheap insincere jokes plastered onto stolen artwork. Those who wish to be outraged will have a daily opportunity – as will those who wish to be delighted. None of us here in the antipodes will make the slightest difference to the outcome.

To be fair, I would also post scurrilous memes about the Canadian, British, French, and Peruvian elections if anyone cared. So far my supplies of these have never been touched.