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It’s a Fine Line between Politeness and Progress

I am English so naturally I struggle with this fine line.

The problem I have is that, when erring on the side of politeness, there is always a little voice in my head shouting, “Hypocrite! You’re a bloody hypocrite! Don’t let them go away with that view unchallenged – whilst you’ll put yourself in a vulnerable position, how can you live with yourself knowing that person is going to loudly perpetuate that complete tosh to anyone who’ll listen???”

I’d really rather not get into debates with everyone I encounter… but then I find the most narrow-minded to be the ones who incite discussion on controversial subjects. As if to assert themselves from the start and strong-arm me into automatic concurrence.

I think it could be argued that they are spoiling for a fight.

Etiquette vs Education

Yesterday an older gentleman came round to tune the piano. Firstly, he denigrated digital keyboards as a replacement for instrumental pianos which, I must admit, I could wholeheartedly agree with… after all, digital has it’s place but is no replacement! But he “hates” it.

Then he spied my bottles on the side table… and began to harp on about how he doesn’t drink and that drink is terrible stuff and so on, and that he “hates” people who drink. Again, can’t massively argue with the negatives of the demon drink although I see no need to nobble someone in their own home. I can’t drink anyway so he was barking up the wrong tree… it’s there for my “terrible” friends!

Next it was smoking. Again, completely agree but decided at this point to say, “Actually i enjoy the occasional cigarette…”, to which he began harping on about how he hates” smokers and that he knew some old lady who had smoked like a chimney and how she was a bad person for that… and, “…she died! Ha!!” WTF??? I should have kept quiet but felt imposed upon in my own home by that point, which is just unreasonable. This conversation had only started after he had finished the job for goodness sake and my precious time was being wasted on ranting and it wasn’t constructive.

Next he mentioned a call he had to make to tune a piano, back in the 70’s. He had arrived to a group of people all smoking “that weed”. “It’s really bad that stuff – if you smoke it once it damages your brain for the rest of your life.” “You’re never the same again.” “It’s evil dangerous stuff people who smoke it are weird and bad.” “I’ve met them, there’s something wrong with them!” “It’s illegal too isn’t it?” “I hate people who do that.”

Now I have to admit that I am a defender of the medicinal properties of said weed.  I am all too aware of the issues – mainly restricted to teenage boys and folk with pre-existing conditions – but far more frequently, I have seen too many adult people benefit immeasurably to be able to accept alcohol as fine and cannabis as not. I’m yet to see anyone tangibly physiologically benefit from drinking alcohol. Relaxation and loss of inhibition don’t count.

But

I couldn’t bring myself to educate this man. However hard the little voice in my head tried, my mouth would not commit to the noose in that way. I find that the narrow minds of the loudly judgemental ignorant are what poison and destroy sense, free social discourse and progress. I mean, the guy had just told me in no uncertain terms that he hated me on 3 counts!

I find myself often in this dilemma: Educate or Assimilate?

You see this gentleman is completely entitled to his opinion and to voice it… I just feel that he should be in hand of actual facts and evidence before he makes his judgement and goes out proclaiming aggressively to anyone within earshot. I also think “hate” is a very strong word.

Progress, in my opinion, is not related to the obvious – building big shiny things, converting every daily task to technology, searching the universe… no, I believe progress only continues where folk are prepared to question daily what they have believed all their lives. We need to always question ourselves and everything around us… double check it makes sense and we’re not just regurgitating false information provided by another biased and fallible human.

He continued on, as I walked him to his car, “They are letting them in left right and centre, they are taking all the jobs they aren’t learning the language”…. If I’m honest, racism makes me mental and I didn’t want him to stay the length of time it would have taken to debate that subject and so distracted him with a bird sighting!

You would have thought that admiring native fauna would have softened him, but his finale, and I jest you not, was the following;

“Well and of course those nature shows, they really shouldn’t show any of those bits that are unpleasant. I think they should censor when animals kill other animals or when something dies, I hate it. We shouldn’t have to see that, it’s horrible and it’s not right. Not right at all.”

Goodness, we really do have a long way to go with rational thinking.

I must confess that with his final flourish he had induced a burning inferno within me that would not have allowed a rational response had I indulged it. I know I shouldn’t get so angry and frustrated but my first response (of 5 billion that were queuing up in my head) would have been – “So you’re a vegetarian then are you??????” (I know he wasn’t because he’d mentioned meat earlier.) Followed swiftly by, “Do you have any inkling of how fortunate you are to be able to hate so loudly, liberally and ignorantly???”

The problem is that all my responses become swathed in a mire of, “You bloody moron. How can a person live on this planet for over 60 years and come out with such utter drivel? Forget nature programmes, it’s folk like you who should be bloody censored – you’re a danger to a rational and reasonable society, a threat to the environment and a blockade in the way of progress!!”

Instead of course, I smiled through gritted teeth as I waved him off to spread his very assured lunacy-fuelled hatred elsewhere, where folk might actually listen and take it as fact. Scary.

When he’d left, I genuinely couldn’t get my head round what he’d said. I may seem just as judgemental but it’s been a while since I’ve met anyone so entirely closed-minded, shallow and quite so vehement with no provocation. There’s some really serious sh$* going on around the world at the moment and this guy felt he should take up an hour of my life spouting crap that doesn’t even make the scale. He left me feeling frustrated and flabbergasted, guilty and doom-laden. How can he have visited such a wide variety of homes, schools, venues and locations over the course of his entire working career and not realise that people are people, you can’t pigeon-hole them or condemn and if they’re not hurting you and yours then really what’s the problem? Where’s all this hate coming from?

Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Contempt. Contempt creates Division. Division becomes Factional. Factions just Fight.

I avoided the fight but I feel like a coward. Not only did I judge a book by it’s cover – nice old gentleman, lifelong local piano tuner, moderate and polite – I had also allowed him off my turf to perpetuate his unchallenged, ignorant dogma. The media is rife with tales of horrendous evil Muslims and BNP idiots inciting racial hatred but I would like to mention the insidious, irrational, fear-induced inciting of racial hatred that goes on in all sorts of unassuming places and can even seep into your own home if you’re not careful, leaving a bad taste and staining the view for a while.

It’s a good thing really that he came across as such a throwback – I guess the fewer and further between these dogmatic and hate-fuelled individuals become… the better for us all.

I dread his return in 6 months but I suppose I could be out… or fully prepared with a Power Point presentation and an hour to spare!

evil bug

evil bug (Photo credit: acidpix)

Silver Linings

Today’s post has been quite tricky…. I hadn’t expected the response I received to yesterday’s Lyme post and just feel a related, positive follow up is what should be done.

So, what are the silver linings to my own long and arduous storm clouds?

Music just sorts it all out: Another Lymie wrote a great post (sorry I can’t recall who!) about how heavy metal music made her feel better….I wholeheartedly agree, it is great for anger and stress relief! Muse Uprising is a good shouty fighting tune, a selection of the rest of my personal medicinal tunes are listed at the end of the post… I did a lot of angry shout singing and “letting it all out” – wonderful therapy….and gets the oxygen flowing and the heat up!!

Perspective: on life in general, what life is about, what is important, what should be ignored, what is real and what is just drivel. On what I really enjoy, on what I really want from life and on what truly makes me happy. On what the point is…

Limits: Whilst I entirely advocate doing everything that doesn’t kill you, limiting my life to suit my circumstances was quite liberating, limiting unnecessary drains on personal resources was freeing and limiting who I put myself out for was a huge burden lifted.

Lyme made me less fit and able than my 94yr old Grandmother…….Lyme also freed me to behave in ways only old folk can get away with: I now feel that release that older people say they get after a certain age – shrugging off all the insecurities and insignificant worries that younger folk suffer from. It’s marvellous!! and it’s happened, like thirty odd years early whoooop!!

Chronic illness, especially of the little known variety, sifts out true friendships: At first, the feeling of people disappearing from my life as they learned that I was diseased was pretty depressing….however, it clearly strengthened other relationships and I have now got the most fantastic set of people in my life. My goodness does quality outweigh quantity in this sphere!!

Years of anxiety, worry and angst have given way to a new way of thinking: Has anyone died? Is anyone or anything going to die? Is the world going to end? No? Right well, let’s just not get unduly stressed about it.

Longterm deprivation of all things pleasurable makes every tiny thing a great joy: I will make sure I never forget the soul-destroying feeling of having to concentrate intently, pulling every ounce of physical power and psychological strength from nowhere, and work my absolute hardest to put one foot in front of the other…..just to get to a place of safety to collapse. I’ll never take the little things for granted again.

Self-Sufficiency: Not in the funky sense…although sort of, as well, I guess. I feel empowered, obviously with hindsight, that I was able to learn all that science and sift through the rubbish information and, armed with just a CD57 test result, the Burrascano guidelines and a name of an antibiotic from the LLD, get myself back shipshape….myself! It is possible. Doctors can’t know everything – mine all used google search, even the good ones! Really we’re all in the dark together and should work together to solve the testing and treatment issues…..but that seems a wee while off yet. I think there are a few American corporations that would rather we didn’t!

Ferris Bueller was right: Life does move pretty fast and it’s just so worth stopping and looking around you,……..more frequently than, “once in a while”, though!

So, even though I spent most of, according to previous generations, the best years of my life, wallowing in pain and misery, sweat and spirochaetes, exhausted, frightened and broken….there seems to be some pretty good stuff the other side. When lucid during treatment I used to feebly whisper, “if this is the down, imagine what the up is going to be like”, not really meaning it….. I genuinely didn’t feel I was going to survive for a while there to be honest. It’s quite difficult to remain resolute in the face of an organism that is so cunning, adaptable, all-pervading and advanced – I kinda respected (and still do,) from a biological and evolutionary perspective the little squiggly telephone wires….which is annoying! The more I learned, the more interesting and impressive they became  – but I always felt that if human beings hadn’t evolved beyond bacteria then we’re doomed anyway, so I used my brain (what little of it worked by then!) and learned their behaviour and habits and looked at electron  microscope pictures and read endless theses on borrelia and spirochaetes and syphilis etc…….and then double-bluffed the little brutes! I don’t necessarily advise it, but one example is that I used to jump in the river to get really cold…..stay cold for as long a possible to perk them up a bit and then hit them with pills and heat and exercise haha!

During my treatment, I was able to narrow the symptoms of a relapse down to one solitary marker: caffeine suddenly makes me sleepy. So nowadays, for me, “a coffee a day proves the buggers are at bay!”  If it happens ever again, I do have a stash of Cefuroxime which I will just start all over again. Come ahead if you think you’re hard enough – I’m armed and ready!

My fighting tunes:

Muse: Uprising

Carl Orff: Carmina Burana

Nirvana: Breed

Metallica: Master of Puppets, Nothing Else Matters (the album with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra is awesome!)

Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance

Iron Maiden: Bring your daughter, Run to the Hills, The Clansman, Phantom of the Opera, The evil that men do, Wasted Years

Eminem: Lose Yourself

Smashing Pumpkins: Rat in a Cage

Prodigy: Their Law

Deep Purple: Cut runs deep

Killers: Human

Therapy: Trigger Inside

Rage Against the Machine.

The Scourge of “Mates Rates”

Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE

Self Employment Tax Form – Schedule SE (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)

Friends & Family Discount, deal for a pal, Mates Rates…can also be described as Self-Employment Tax…

I’ve been self-employed for all of my working life and one of the most infuriating sources of profit sabotage and reinvestment limitation are the folk who believe that, because they have some kind of connection to you, they deserve to buy goods at cost price.

My Mother is the worst for this and, in fact, crippled one of my earlier businesses by blackmailing me into giving her quite a lot of produce at….wait for it…..LESS than cost price. I carried this curious notion with me as a youngster but it changed immediately when someone I highly respected said, simply;

“I find it hard to understand why you would be willing to go and pay some random fecker full price for this item and yet you’re not prepared to pay me, your friend, knowing how hard I am working to establish my business and how I spend my money.”

That was me told.

What do you reckon?

I reckon that “mates rates” should come into play, only, when the seller can afford to swallow the loss…..otherwise you ain’t no mate! Most of us will offer a bit of a deal to our nearest and dearest by default but it feels very disappointing when the gannets arrive, disguised in support, but expecting …..let’s face it, gifts! Don’t get me wrong, helping folk out is standard but it’s just this expectation of favours. I don’t think many folk consider that, basically;

They earn a salary and save money on the product from you…..whilst, you pay for the product and hand over some or all of your own income on the deal too. It simply doesn’t stack up.

Please think on it the next time you’re about to demand freebies and discounts from someone who is working incredibly hard and for whom every penny clearly counts. Self-employment is 24/7 not 9-5. We might be able to pay our own wages….after costs. Oh and no amount of flirting, giggling, imploring, back-slapping or charm will make up for the extra costs, (in other words, losses), or the head-tonked sinking feeling of being taken advantage of.

Unless, of course, we can come to some arrangement on my percentage of your hard-earned salary… we are mates after all, right bud?!

Rain Supreme

I find myself in a micro-minority of rain aficionados, rain appreciateurs……skyfall lovers. My reason is simple; without rain there is no life.    turtles-wearing-a-hat-walking-in-the-rain-fun-happy-animal-485x728

The whinging and moaning in this country, with regards our great fortune to have the life-giver, in buckets, raining down upon our ungrateful little heads and ruining our hair, is laughable. But humans will forever choose the negative over the positive assessment of a situation. I see the British tradition as, to be constantly ‘talking about the weather’ rather than ‘whinging about the rain’.

English: London Midland Desiro EMU 350125 call...

English: London Midland Desiro EMU 350125 calls at Watford Junction with a service to London Euston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love rain. Primarily because it can transform even the busiest London street in seconds, clearing a hassle-free path and offering brief respite from the hordes. I also love the visual boost in all things green and botanic – the grass fluffs up, trees are abundant with vitality and vegetables swell tantalisingly. The ‘rain’forest is the richest habitat on earth!

The rain that never gets you wet, was a nostalgic reminiscence I would share with my neighbours when living on a hill farm in south west Scotland. “Honestly, it’s a sort of light drizzle, refreshing but not drenching, like a delicate sprinkle or a fine mist”. Of course I was never believed. Having moved back to my homeland once more, I delight in the rain that doesn’t get you wet, for it exists and is the perfect form. Unobtrusive nourishment, win win.

Add in wind, though, and rain is suddenly, admittedly, considerably less appealing. Simply speaking, on the West it doesn’t bother with the detail and just socks you in the face….. back…… side of the head. Once back in the respite of shelter, multiple body areas feel as if they have been shot with salt pellets – bruised and stinging…….although the upside is that grrrr feeling of battling through horizontal wind and rain and the enormous pleasure of settling in front of the fire once back in safe haven. The East however, likes to bring some flare. Somehow the east wind and rain ends up breaching the defences and penetrating around the kidneys, the neck, the wrists…..anywhere it can and places it doesn’t seem it could. It dances around licking at bits of skin you were sure were hidden under layers of thick clothing plus a waterproof. But, this too gives you the grrr feeling although tinged with irritation admittedly. Getting warm is ecstasy, relaxing tense and defensive muscles, divine, and listening to it lash the windows from a place of comfort, pure joy.

Rain is the lifeblood of the planet. It ‘pumps’ round, keeping life going; through the flora and fauna and into the soil, down through the layers to the water table, into the rivers and the sea, then, up into the clouds it floats, ready to do it all again. Perpetual motion. We are 70% water and, depending on climate, we can die in hours without it.

I lived, for over a decade, in a drought-prone area and, also, over a decade in a soggy, flood-prone place, I have concluded that, as long as you have a boat you can escape too much water. You simply cannot, however, live without it.

 

Perceptive deception or deceptive perception?

My most trusted friend is a wrongly convicted murderer……and a saint. My brother’s godfather is a christian minister……..and a convicted paedophile.

One has had fifteen years of his life taken away unfairly and the other has unfairly taken away years of others’ lives. I’m finding it tricky to process I realise, as it pops into my head with surprising regularity. I’m not awash with self-indulgent despair but I am perturbed.

It seems to me that we all attribute far too much reverence to certain groups in society. This, in turn, leads to provision of the greatest ‘baddies lair’ imaginable – the ability to hide in plain sight in the cushioned bosom of sustained wishful thinking. We provide a refuge for rot in our unblanching respect for those we rely on. We bring up our children on a diet of goodies and baddies and yet simplify the identification of those to such an extent that a man in uniform, a suit, or my own special interest – fluorescent/reflective jackets, can basically go anywhere and do anything they like. Really? Honestly, here in the UK a man could stick on a fluorescent jacket and dismantle Big Ben with no interference!

English: St. Stephen's Tower (Big Ben) in Lond...

English: St. Stephen’s Tower (Big Ben) in London, United Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leave the outdated stereotypes where they should be, in books, films and antique shops.

Police, doctors and other medical staff, religious leaders, community leaders, grandparents, mothers, religious followers, funeral directors….

There is a spectrum there but I think it’s clear what I’m getting at. Some titles give the automatic perception of moral standing, to, deceiving, selfish, bigoted, weak, bullying, fibbing, fallible humans, and with that, power.

Automatic attribution of saintliness is a dangerous game. Whilst I don’t dispute for a second the number of genuine and integrity-filled individuals who choose these paths, the reality is that we are all human.

 

 

Just an ordinary human being?

“Have-a-go-hero”

The problem with this phrase is evident. I think it’s partly down to the sing-song intonation. It just sounds disparaging and belittling, mocking even. Patronising pat on the back. It gives the impression of someone leaping to tackle a robber and falling on their face, or being run over trying to stop a vehicle being stolen. It sounds like a half-hearted but well-meaning klutz. I think it sounds like an insult! I suspect that it has its roots in the sarcasm-free zone of the US and is supposed to be a heartwarming and earnest description. That is all very admirable but I see an act of selfless courage as more majestic than that – ‘diving in head first’, has more urgency about it than, ‘having a go’. Well it does!

“Have-a-go-hero”, is usually used in the context of describing an individual who, whether successful or not, chose to risk their own well-being, safety, life or limb in an attempt to protect or help, usually, another complete stranger. They should be called ‘selfless brave heart’, ‘shining knight gallant’ or ‘courageous citizen’…. ‘lion-heart’, ‘plucky bystander’…… ‘some hardcore mofo’! I reckoned they’ve earned it. This isn’t some tryout for a much-considered career path. There’s no time to choose to “have-a-go”. These folk are the very strength of our community – defenders of the innocent, protectors of the weak, crime-fighting badasses.

However haphazard or cackhanded their attempt, I’d want one available in my time of need.

I believe this lady is my inspiration for a language change. She didn’t just ‘have a go’, she foiled the crime and sent a sledgehammer-wielding gang packing. Respect.

Courage-NelsonMandela-300x225