Tag Archives: Human Interaction

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)

Radio 4 Rage

The only thing that brings me out in blotches and makes me see red on a regular basis is Radio 4 listeners in this country.

There is an unwritten and unwavering belief system amongst those that listen, usually exclusively, to Radio 4, that has bestowed upon said individuals the right of PhD status general knowledge and an air of superiority that you don’t actually find amongst the truly gifted and exceptional.

Honestly it is laughable

I didn’t realise how things were until I found myself stuck amongst said listeners for a protracted period of time and noted that every morsel of knowledge or information uttered from their lips was regurgitated, word for word, from a Radio 4 programme.

The more I noticed it the more comical it became.

The self-important numpties who rate their credentials upon their choice of listening material are right where the next propaganda-led dictator wants them. I swear you could put anything on Radio 4 and it would become acceptable… and of course be widely promoted!

Well, the disappointment has been huge for me. I thought I was surrounded by a wide variety of independent thinking conscious adults when all along they have just been a version of children following a trend and talking the talk, walking the walk, thinking their cool coz their ‘in’ and sneering at those not conforming to their limited way of thinking and being.

Please understand, I am not knocking Radio 4 itself – although I find a lot of it dull and repetitive, there is the odd enjoyable or enlightening bit… and if you want the most depressing version of the news you’ll certainly get that regular as clockwork. I do love the shipping forecast, from childhood, though.

Although there are many who stand for truth and aim for purity of fact, everything has the twist of humanity attached to it – the influences of belief, education, upbringing and the subconscious, bad eyesight, dodgy hearing, bias and fear…

There is no oracle in this world. No fully truthful news source. No infallible human being. That’s just the way it is.

Radio 4 listeners? The game is up! Add a few pinches of salt and form your own ideas from the incomplete information being fed, sometimes 2nd/3rd/4th hand, to you. It’s lovely to discuss the subjects and concepts but….

Radio 4 ain’t the Law

… and tolerating the sleep-inducing drone for protracted periods of time, without hesitation, repetition or deviation, does not make you special, superior or all-knowing. It makes you a little bit boring actually.

BBC Radio 4 - The World at One.

BBC Radio 4 – The World at One. (Photo credit: LoopZilla)

In Rude Health?

Rudeness has been on my mind recently. I’ve been trying to come up with an important sociological reason for being rude and why it is so frequently employed in communication and as a general method.

I can’t find any good reason for it

Rudeness gets people’s backs up. It is unpleasant to live around. Rudeness insinuates hierarchy or superiority. Friction and conflict usually result.

Quite simply it is disrespectful.

In my opinion, being rude is ignorant… and that isn’t to say that I am not a perpetrator myself on occasion. I feel ignorant when I do it and I know I let myself down. My own rudeness is usually induced by an individual and their words or behaviour. I’m rarely an instigator. This is no excuse.

I occasionally venture further out into the material world but usually hasten home soon after…

Staff in shops are rude. Coffee purveyors are rude. Folk walking the street are rude. Drivers are rude, cyclists are rude, lorry drivers are rude. Children are rude, teenagers are rude, adults are rude. Everyone is so bloody rude!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a massive fan of the sycophantic and vacuous fakery camp that insists on the cheesy repetition of an insincere, “Have a nice day” etc, either.

Is there no middle ground?

The other day I pulled over in a local village to allow a stream of 12 cars in the opposite direction past me on my side of the road. The drivers? EVERY SINGLE ONE smiled and thanked me.

I lived for a few years in a place where the attitude, and the people who perpetuate it, is the unwanted virus of England. (Much wealth, no manners, total ignorance, pure disrespect) In two and half years NOT A SINGLE human being thanked me or smiled at me for being courteous.

Living in ‘rudetown’ made me a rude and seriously grumpy bitch. To have everything and give nothing is a negative state… living surrounded by this mindset made me question my very existence on this planet and whether a world of humans all aiming for that “dream” is a world worth inhabiting. (BTW it isn’t, FYI) When I assessed the damage I realised that I was at a point where going out in the car to specifically drive slowly around the place, holding people up, became a game of pure pleasure. Watching the anger mount as these spoiled individuals weren’t able to pursue their exact desire at the exact moment they desired it – because of me – became like a drug. Pottering along at the speed limit with a massive grin as they all risked their lives and licences to scream past me in fury only fed my need to make them as miserable as they had made me. The only way to dissipate the constant anger and irritation at being treated so incredibly and constantly unpleasantly, was to wind those mofos up something chronic.

Slow at roundabouts, slow at the lights, let every car that wants out in front of me…

I’d be in that supermarket carpark for just after school time, crawling around, all smiles, as the massive BMW 4×4’s and other flashy rides were trying to muscle their way through with their blond and orange and incandescent occupants swearing at me. Ha Ha Ha.

I even took to standing three feet away from the neighbours blatantly watching them and listening to their conversations…. sometimes for up to an hour. That’s what they did to me.

You can see why I had to get out!

Rudeness is self-perpetuating. It takes all the resolve in the world not to give it back in spades to someone who disrespects you for absolutely no good reason. Very few of us are able to override the basic instinct to retaliate.

So, having gone from the pit of extreme rudeness – which seeps in to your fabric – to the perfect level of politeness and respect – which does the same – I can categorically say;

Manners maketh man (and woman)

Kindness makes the world go round

A smile is worth a thousand words

and…

Rudeness is a ripple effect WMD     

To be avoided at all costs

Grudge match over a compliment

Credit: thestylecuratorblog.com

Credit: thestylecuratorblog.com

An inherent social, mainly familial, problem was highlighted for me today:

Folk never tell folk meaningful stuff to their faces. In other words, parents, siblings, teachers, friends…whoever…..tell everyone else but the person in question, how great said person is and what their particular shining attributes are. Within families this can create completely unnecessary rifts.

My wise old friend was being very wise the other day as we sat admiring her garden. She told me that she and her brothers had always hated one set of cousins, mainly because their Grandmother constantly went on about how wonderful they were. Recently they were all reunited at Grandmother’s funeral and were harking back to childhood….it turns out she did exactly the same about her and her brothers to their cousins, who had also felt collectively miffed for the best part of 60 years.

What is with us that we can’t just tell someone we are proud of them, they’ve inspired us, cheered us up or done themselves proud?

I believe it is mostly a British thing….other nationalities seem to be much warmer in that respect. We must have had generations of people feeling inadequate and inferior, simply because we ‘talk behind their backs’. It may not be in the traditional bitchy or gossipy sense but nonetheless it is damaging.

There are obvious exceptions; cool threads, great hair, wonderful cuisine……soooooo pretty. We are happy to gush openly about them. So what about kind? Long-suffering? Patient? Inspiring? Infectiously motivating? Tough? Capable? Anything deeper than looks and fuel presentation???

I just reckon, we live in a world where dark skinned folk want to be light skinned and light skinned folk want to be dark, people are implanting crap into their bodies to all look the same as one bloody doll – a product, beauty is still only skin deep but some seem to think that if they keep layering it’ll all work out…..what I’m saying is that it would be great if we could go back to respecting traits, generosity of spirit, selflessness, positive attributes rather than merely singling out good assets.

I don’t reckon that we should all be constantly ego stroking each other – no, that would be torture… that’s how it is now! I just mean, when someone does something pretty amazing or makes you think differently or changes your world, even for a moment, just tell them. Presents are all very well but telling someone face to face….or writing a letter to say, that you really appreciate them, is genuinely priceless.

I’ve been cogitating this for a while. One of the things that struck me hardest when I realised and accepted that Lyme might shorten my life considerably, was that I really wanted all the people I cared about to know it and know why they are so bloody brilliant and how much I value them…..including people from way back who I’ve always remembered for one reason or another, which was probably a bit over zealous but what the hell, how bad can a compliment be?

The reason it was highlighted today was because a member of the older generation was visiting and, being objective…. with gritted teeth, I think I could concede that maybe he is merely perpetrating the usual grudge-inducing round robin of wrongly directed continual praise in mismatched company when he makes us feel quite as inferior as he does in his lauding of other siblings whilst seemingly totally ignoring the tour of the fruits of our endless hard work and throwing barely a scrap of positivity our way.

I just want the next generation, my kids if I’m fortunate, not to have to do battle with the smog of the family merry-go-round or the general beauty rankings and just get on with being wonderful people. How can any of us reach our full potential if noone is prepared to tell us the good, and meaningful, stuff like it is?

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?!

Pleasure Instantaneous

IMG-20121220-00517

Credit: Nightmare Logic

Instant Coffee. Instant Mashed Potato. Instant Messaging. Instant Gratificaton.

Everything in an instant.

What happened to; “All good things take some time”, “Slow and steady wins the race”, and, “the more you put in the more you get out”?

I’m not a fan of instant. I love freshly ground coffee, homemade mash and long evenings with my friends. I prefer open fires to central heating, choose stairs over lifts and get more pleasure from books than from films. I guess I’m the tortoise to the majority’s hare. From where I’m sitting, it seems the focus has become the instantaneity itself, rather than the potential benefits from performing the task in an instant. I also reckon our brains take a little bit of time to catch up and thus spend most of the day under heavy fire without a moment to properly take things in… process…. do the internal filing. The constant alert status our bodies have to maintain in order to handle the sheer volume of bleeps and ringtones and alerts and reminders, requests, comments, emails, texts….. By the very nature of instant, we’re just filling each day with too much distance run and thus falling into a constant state of mental exhaustion.

What’s the rush?

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Quote: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off        http://youtu.be/HbR7axof1wk

We say, “life is short”, “life is precious” and yet we’re diverted from the actual act of living by all this technology and our inability to moderate our compulsive behaviour. One day we’ll look up from texting and googling and realise our lives have passed us by…….and we’re suffering from self-induced vision impairment.

I do appreciate that many people choose to live in a constant blur and ‘instant’ probably seems incredibly helpful. I understand that to those the blur is the buzz. When I lived in the blur I still found instantaneity unfulfilling. Rushing here and there, cramming so much in that none of it left an impression other than the blur itself. In our shared house in the city I introduced a weekly ritual of getting together and cooking a big roast dinner. Whatever form of instant sustenance we had lived on during the week would just keep us right till the much anticipated Sunday roast, which would in turn keep us right through the next week of instant, unfulfilling fodder.

We seem to want to cancel out the delicious and tantalising anticipation that comes with waiting for something we desire. That frisson in your stomach or rousing of the palate. What’s wrong with feeling hungry for a few minutes more? Why should someone stop mid-discussion to text a reply to your inane question about next week’s meeting? Do you really need to tell me for the third time that you’re en route? Anticipation even sounds good when you roll the word around on your tongue, it’s almost onomatopoeic.

I’ve always found that anything done or decided in a rush is usually a recipe for leisurely repentance. I find that substance is lost through speed and instantaneity… Not only do we lose the thrill of anticipation but also the joy of quality and attention. How can you give your best in an instant?

Halve the quantity, double the quality. Shouldn’t ‘instant’ free you up, not swamp you?

I live as slowly and simply as I can without being some kind of hermit weirdo, ambling around the fringes of society, eyed suspiciously, out of touch and shunned. It’s quite hard actually. Stepping into the blur every now and then, to try and maintain a sliver of balance, is like stepping into the path of an oncoming train. The onslaught of demands in order to maintain the instant culture is an assault and I feel as if I’ve been trapped with a load of hyperactive children for the duration. Constantly demanding every inch of me. Never listening properly. Always on to the next thing. The problem is that I literally can’t jump in with both feet and join ’em. I’m too busy experiencing life to have the time to let everyone know what I’m doing every five minutes, with accompanying photographic evidence. I’m having a dance while my coffee is brewing. If I say I’ll be there next Thursday, I will. That’s it. Unless I contact you and let you know otherwise.

I miss my friends who are too busy texting. I miss sharing the jeopardy of using a map. I miss the relaxed assurance that noone around us is taking photographs. I miss debating a point rather than googling it. I miss simple. I miss slow. I’m bored of people ripping the heart out of adventure with their satnavs and gps. I’m frustrated with the number of social interactions that leave me feeling I could have better spent my time, as my companion was constantly on their bloody phone. Perpetrators of phone-related rudeness, which is pretty much everyone, should understand that to the other person in the room, the one whom you have bothered to meet up with, it feels as if you’d rather be somewhere else. Now, if that is the case, I only speak for myself here, I’d rather you gave me back my precious time and we didn’t bother in the first place. Don’t be ‘polite’ on my account.

My phone is a tool. Nothing more. It massively facilitates part of my life and my work but doesn’t dictate my day. I don’t drop everything the moment it demands. I love my friends but most of them, nowadays, are like crackheids – slightly wild-eyed, totally distracted and completely addicted. Even a light-hearted ribbing makes them defensive and protective of their “preciousssssss”. Don’t get me wrong, the information and capability in our hands is thrilling, humbling and mind-blowing…… but balance and moderation are soothing for the soul.

Let’s down tools once in a while and share a pleasure that is only growing scarcer and more precious; our undivided attention.