Tag Archives: people

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)

An Open Letter to Daily Drivers

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Firstly may I sympathise, empathise and generally commiserate with your, let’s face it – chosen, dreaded daily commute. I’ve done my fair share of miles the length and breadth of the UK and for a few years was pulling lorry driver mileage, although not in a lorry, mind! I know the stress, the irritation, the tiredness, the eye strain and the restrictive nature of sitting in that cockpit at the mercy of others, for what can feel like an eternity…

However

It perturbs me, as a road user and as a diligent observer, that the general regard for this weapon of mass destruction, that is freely available to all who can afford it, is lazy at best and totally ignorant at worst.

It wouldn’t matter how day-to-day their usage became, all the gun owners I know would never treat their weapons of mass destruction with such disdain and arrogance as to forget the seriousness of their worst outcome, for even a second.

Car drivers on the other hand – what are you thinking?

“I’m tired”   “I’m hungry”   “I want to get home”   “That last meeting was interesting”    “Can’t wait to have a drink”   “I’m late”     “I’m important”    “Me” “Me” “Me”

That’s how it comes across anyway.

One false move and a child is dead. One false move and you’ve killed someone elses Mother/Brother/Father/Son. One lapse in concentration and you’ve killed your occupants. One careless manoeuvre and life is changed forever.

The thing is, my observations and experiences lead to me to realise that, when that crucial split second occurs…… you, the driver, will react instinctively to save yourself. This seems to be, according to my extensive layman’s research, why so many passengers are normally far worse off than their chauffeur in the event of an accident. I’ve been in a car where the driver swerved me into a skip to save himself – we can’t help it.    It’s reflex …. and definitely worth considering twice when you next have precious cargo in the passenger seat and you’re feeling stressed or distracted.

I can strongly recommend my own preventative measure, which is to always consider the same things when I get in my vehicle: People, Motorbikes, Tractors, Rushing Van Drivers, Tired Lorry Drivers, Obstacles Blocking the Road, Nervous Drivers and the random person who has a medical emergency at the wheel… that sure sobers me up. You see crazy stuff happens and if you fail to prepare…

Driving well on public roads is a superior skill. It is far too often referred to as something we do automatically “ooh how clever we are”. NO.

Please stop driving automatically.

Please cease leaping in the car with your entire focus on your destination.

Please have some pride in your skill and continue to hone it throughout your driving career. The control of your car is just as important as the colour and the craftsmanship in defining your reputation in your area.

Please have an OCD level of perfectionism when it comes to Concentration, Control and Courtesy. They seem to be the three main causes of problems on the road, ranging from the little road rage inducing incidents to the catastrophic pileups. The quantity of you who just don’t indicate, for an example, must be some sort of joke.

Blaming speed is like blaming guns

I don’t believe it is simply speed. It is the driver…. we are ultimately responsible for the safety level that we adhere to and the outcome of each journey that we undertake. Going too slow, for an example, can be just as hazardous to other road users along with being tired, hungry, distracted, wound up, etc.

Every time you get in your car the conditions of your journey will be different. Please drive to the conditions…

At the moment it is the summer holidays.

The days are longish and lazy. Everyone who can be, is in relaxed holiday mode. The sun is bright and the sun is low and blinding in the evenings.

Please bear in mind: Families with children walking, children wobbling along on bikes, the disabled, the less mobile or hard of hearing, folk concentrating on more enjoyable pursuits than whether or not you are hurtling towards them at well over the safe speed with no regard for what is ahead…

Please

Remember: Road-going vehicles are bloody dangerous

The men who work with chainsaws put it best, in my opinion: Comfort Kills – get too comfortable with a dangerous machine and you’ll make a costly mistake

Sometimes we all need reminded.

Peace

The Mastery of the Universe

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas.

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I lay in bed on Saturday night happy and exhausted…. then something caught my eye. I knew there was a meteor shower predicted for Sunday night/Monday morn but the visual spectacular that greeted me on Saturday was soo good that it felt like the astronomers had purposefully misled the wider public so they could enjoy it all to themselves or somesuchthing! The streaks were huge and long and bright bright bright. I must have seen a dozen in half an hour!! I had the optimum location too…. lying on my back in my bed, watching the show. These weren’t the little zip zip type shooting stars, no we’re talking huge, long fireworks…. I was a little surprised I couldn’t hear a whoosh! There was a ‘Star Wars battle’ style to the whole show.

I love how spectacles of this kind bring out the imagination, superstition and awestruck child in me. For a few minutes it is easy to understand how all the beliefs in the world could have arisen. During that time I feel as if I can connect with ancestors and gain a fraction of understanding. To have encountered visions such as these with no scientific understanding or prior warning? That surely would have induced a feeling of insignificance, fear…and wonder, in humans far beyond that when facing a dangerous wild animal or other earthly surprise. Part of me wants to maintain the night skies in a similar vein to Father Christmas for my future children, if I’m lucky enough to have any. “I don’t know what it is darling… what do you think?” I don’t want to just plunge into scientific explanations.

I believe wholeheartedly in education. I also believe wholeheartedly in ignorant wonder.

Learning everything from books and teachers is efficient and important but learning from experience is joy.

I truly hope the generation of kids growing up in front of screens are able to foster an imagination and enjoy mystery and surprise. I hope the world is still full of wonder for them even if they are able to access seemingly everything in that world from their bedrooms. Imagination is what removes the ties that bind, the rules that govern and the facts that restrict. For a few hours I indulged in ignorant wonder… then the next day it was all written down in the news: Science science complicated words statistics blah blah

No wonder none of my friends seemed to give a toss. I tried to enthuse them! They weren’t intrigued or delighted at the prospect because some drivelling expert had removed all the wonder. No disrespect but it’s all in the delivery.

My headline would have read: Rare and mind-blowing experience available tonight: Strange and wonderful light display in the sky…. set in the most stunning and infinite HD backdrop ever witnessed! Stop everything and view the majestic freebie!

The whole world should have been on it’s back looking heavenwards. Floored by the enormity. Except of course most folk were either tucked up in bed, zombified in front of the tv or computer, or inebriated and incapable.

Well, I saw it. It was mind-expanding, surprising, inspiring and highly memorable. It was also impossible to capture on a phone or digicam or anything else. No, you had to use your own eyes and just enjoy it… well apart from the techno-supremes of the star-gazing community… but it is never the same reproduced, never the same at all.

No amount of technology will offer the depth or breadth of definition that human eyes can offer after 20 minutes or so in the dark looking skywards. I don’t care what anyone says.

I feel refreshed, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, inspired and humbled… and as if my world has expanded once more. I feel that frisson of ‘there’s bigger things in life than war, politics, corruption and dictatorship… more powerful than financial markets and latest tech… more awe-inspiring than million pound artworks and purpose-built mansions…’ Thank Goodness!!! We live in a global village, yes, but we are arrogant not to remember that it is one microscopic hamlet in the infinite sprawling metropolis of galaxies.

The universe has cleaned my palate for life… and put me in my place

Truly, the most wonderful things in life are (or should be – Monsanto) free to us all.

My only little niggle is that I met a lad recently who has never seen the stars. What a magnificent opportunity that would have been…

Get Out and Do Look Back

English: Antique Tabriz Persian Rug

English: Antique Tabriz Persian Rug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I see Bug in a Rug syndrome all about me, everywhere I look.

I love this little slice of wisdom. It comes from a quality tune on a Headz (Mowax) album… but could have originated anywhere. I cannot find the track anywhere, don’t even know it’s name, and my brother stole my copy years ago, so here it is roughly paraphrased:

Once there was a Bug that lived in the most beautiful Persian Rug

But he didn’t know it

All about him were his problems and he was miserable

One day he climbed up to the highest point on the rug and looked down

He gasped!

For there, stretching out below him was the most beautiful Persian Rug

What he thought were his problems were in fact the thick pile, exquisite weaving, intricate patterns and thick sumptuous tassels…

He cheered right up and realised life was beautiful even with it’s problems… which only make it all the more rich and vibrant

Take a moment to step back and appreciate your own beautiful Persian Rug whenever you can, from even a little distance or a slightly different perspective it can be taken in fully. It also makes more sense as a whole, looks more beautiful… and feels more manageable!

Get Out and Do Look Back

When did We become They?

They

When over-used, They becomes a lazy, flippant word. They aren’t with you… They are over there somewhere. You can pass the buck to They. They are in the overspill bucket beside you… where everything you don’t really know, understand or take responsibility for goes:

They say it’s going to rain.

They say red wine is good for you.

They need to get the trains sorted.

They need to protect the countryside.

They should be building more houses.

They shouldn’t have let us take so much credit we couldn’t afford.

They really ought to be sorting out the burden on the NHS

They should be feeding, clothing, and educating my children

They say they’ve found a cure for cancer

They say we’re feeling the effects of climate change

They say climate change isn’t actually happening

They‘ve blown up more civilians

They haven’t won the war on terror yet

They could do this… They musn’t do that… They haven’t done the other for us yet…

until…

They should have done more

They should have protected us

They should have learned from the last time

They screwed up

They did this

It’s all Their fault

They are quite a force…. this seemingly all-powerful, dirt-free, 100% reliable and integrity-filled superhuman They. This faceless entity here on earth to do everything for us and protect us from ourselves. Well, how can anything be your fault if you take no personal responsibility? Just suckle from and rely on Them and everything will be fine.

It’s worth noting that in the instances where They refers to an elected government, THEY translates as WE

It’s easy to forget that… when you’ve got it easy

In fact if We took the petty pressures off They, They might be able to concentrate more comprehensively on the important matters…  ok rational idealism isn’t realistic in this case but I live in hope…

So here’s to They… long may we sit back, do nothing and blame it all on Them

Red wine and a window

Red wine and a window (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Loop of Inevitability

Round and Round and Round we go

“Let people learn from their own mistakes”

And so the human race is put on loop, which turns to spiral… which leads down the plughole.

I feel ashamed of us a species

Excuses for everything. Blame. Expectations of others. No personal responsibility or self-determination. Complete reliance on others – from the government to the takeaway.

Why can’t we learn? We’re supposed to have these enormous brains and be so advanced and yet we now live in a world where self-indulgence is the only goal in life. Asserting ones own beliefs to the serious detriment of others. Factionalising every pissing thing.

I feel like a spider to clinging to the side of the drain… sorry… what happened to working hard? Giving to others? Being unselfish and considerate? Accepting difference without prejudice? Making a better future? Equality?? I don’t want to go down…

I’ve lived all over for the past 15 years and am now back home. I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty… you see I’m not just ranting at everyone else about this, I have been experiencing the problems in realtime macro this past few months: The bad habits I have picked up in the wider world are; unhealthy suspicion, constant fear of crime, unhealthy fear of men, constant expectation of petty conflict, silly hangups from self-consciousness, stress and unhealthy stress management, brusqueness, unnecessary hurriedness and a strong tendency to keep to myself… Yes, not great really!!!

It seeps into your fabric without you realising and before you know it you are everything you despise.

We all sign the petitions but are we actually living the ethos? Will your son grow up to disrespect or physically hurt a girlfriend? Will your daughter disrespect and double cross other females to get what she wants? Do your children understand the meanings of reasonable and unreasonable, acceptable and unacceptable, right and wrong? Or are you just indulging them to make sure you are number 1 popular parent…. to make life easier and sweeter for yourself, sod the future?

We need to get with the program people.

I wish I didn’t care but I do.

The most important issue of all is that of men and women. Whatever label you wish to give it is irrelevant, the fact remains that equality is more important than ever.

It is rare that I am completely furious and even rarer that I wish to write it down but this is one such time. I have read far too many accounts recently, by women (usually in the USA I’m afraid…that’s just the way it is) whinging about how some man wolf whistled at them or made a comment and they didn’t feel comfortable. **&^%*$*%$£^%£^£^

This attitude is akin to complaining in front of a man with no legs that you stubbed your toe. Women who are actually oppressed would give everything they have to be in a position to tell a man where to go without being heavily punished for it. Get some bloody perspective. You can avoid being raped by a random stranger, you can’t avoid being raped by half the local police force.

It may not be comfortable to have to speak up or shout back at builders or loudly embarass some loudmouth chauvinist in a shop but when did anyone say life was easy? Men get “started on” all the time for no reason and have to handle it well or face the consequences… I’m afraid we need to do the same. One of the first phrases I learn in any new country is one to shout at a man to shame him if he disrespects me. I very rarely get much trouble and if I do they know about it….as does everyone in the vicinity.

Laws don’t change things, people do.

Stand up for yourselves you spoiled inhumane bitches. You perpetuate the worst evil in the world by being so pathetic, reliant and ungrateful to your foresisters. If you can’t stand up for yourself in a coffee queue you need to go back and seriously understand where your freedoms came from. Grow a spine and contribute, it’s not like you’re staring down the barrel of an AK47.

Lead by example

Change starts at home…    you’d be surprised how many loud and proud feminists bring up indulged, nasty, violent little misogynists.

So as not to end on a rant, I must explain that it is empowering, ladies…and gents.

I am lucky in that I was always brought up to stick up for myself and others. I have NEVER been raped or had any violence perpetrated against me (ironically, other than by those closest to me) and have never yet received backlash from speaking up. There has been the odd moment of fear as a female in the city but the strange person seemingly following me could have been a drug addict, a youth or simply a weirdo… not necessarily a psycho woman-hater… however I am conditioned to expect violent rapists and fear that in everyone I encounter after dark. Did you know though that men are also in a predicament… I hear more and more that men don’t want to walk behind women in the dark, or if they are the only ones in a street, for fear of scaring them.

It is a sad old world we insist on perpetuating.

The good news is that there is definitely a light…. I see men all the time to whom I gave “what for” and most, if not all, of them have improved if not completely changed their ways. These are not just family, friends, acquaintances but also delivery drivers, farmers, cabbies, pub landlords… strangers. I’ve even brought bosses up on it… if you are worth your salt they’ll change their ways to keep you. You see, you gain respect if you stop someone in their well-worn tracks and make them think again… and that approach is not limited to the gender issues. Many folk don’t know any better until someone tells them and educates them.

Ignorance is not an offence but it is an affliction we can all help eradicate