Tag Archives: psychology

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)

A Different Mindset for Consistently Successful Veg Gardening

I grow vegetables every year. I have grown at 1000ft with winters of sub minus 20 and also at sea level with drought and long hot summers. I have to live a stress-free and mainly physically undemanding lifestyle. I cannot afford staff!!

These are my canny, tried and tested, tips for virtually guaranteeing success when growing your own food…

Remove Rigidity and Relax: Gardening is about working with nature… not against it or with it under tight control… if you try to control it too much, you live in a perpetual state of angst when you do and guilt when you don’t… have the time and energy to devote. I’ve been there and it can be quite soul-destroying… I realised I was setting myself up for disappointment and failure.

Go Old School when planting your seeds:

One for the mouse, One for the Crow, One to Rot and One to Grow – it is rare for all four to fail. I always aim for a quarter of my seeds to go on and produce vegetables. If I end up with surplus, which I usually do, I give, swap, sell and save and on bad years I normally end up with just enough for the household. I’ve never had total failure unless the seeds were dud in the first place… and that is rectifiable early in the season.

I believe that the word “weed” was coined by a weedkiller producer. We all automatically hate and worry about them but unless they are literally vying for root space with your plants they are usually more beneficial than detrimental…. other than purely aesthetically…. but even that is up to you – I pull mine in a design to look purposeful!

Nettles are necessary so try and embrace them: I pull nettles like the next person but only selectively. Nettles provide important habitat for animals and insects that are garden helpers…e.g. butterflies. I find they also protect from rabbits eating my leaves for some reason…. they provide shelter from wind, rain and cold and they provide shade from the sun. They also help hold the moisture in the ground and prevent erosion and bare patches. You can eat em and brew em and soak em to make a great liquid feed. I let them grow around my beds and pots and containers as protection. You can even broaden this embrace to include other native wild plants… the more you provide for your pests the better…

Immaculation breeds contempt: We all love a neat and tidy garden that looks beautiful and well tended… the thing is, the garden doesn’t really like that so much. Welcome a bit of organised chaos and disorder and you remove the metaphorical neon arrows pointing to your tender young morsels that are exposed for any hungry being to spot and steal. Remember, the birds, beasts and insects were all doing fine before you showed up with your fancy foodstuffs… leave them some of their own scran and they’ll leave yours alone. If you embrace the plants that thrive naturally – please note I tend not to use the negative word “weeds” – you’ll find that they put on a magnificent display when their flowers appear.

Spread Bet: Staggered multiple sowings ensure a longer season and a higher percentage of success. Don’t plant all the same seedlings in the same bed – spread them around a bit. Put some in containers too. All sorts of silly things can cause crop failure – from bad positioning to dodgy soil and pests. If you have a few here and a few there you should always get some whatever the season throws. Pests usually won’t be in 5 places at once if you’re canny with positioning.

Cram them in: I plant seedlings quite close together. After years of panicking about exact measurements, I now cram them in and thin (and eat!) regularly – most veg seedlings and young plants are perfectly delicious.

Squat don’t bend: For weeding, and all the other ground based jobs, don’t kneel or bend and constantly strain your back…. squat – preferably with flat feet if you can. It’s simple – it keeps your back aligned, straight and supported. Don’t be self-conscious, that doesn’t help anything, squat and work between your legs… if you are female just wear something appropriate.

Let it go to seed if it wants to: Things go to seed, that’s just the natural cycle. If your veggies are turning to seed, do something about the ones that haven’t yet… if you want…. but let the others continue to full term. So you have slightly less food this year… next year you’ll have no seed outlay or more seed – one in the bank for the future, as they say, and many plants produce tasty edible seeds anyway.

Plants have a drive to survive too: If you are growing native plants… or those that are generally happy in your climate and soil… they will work hard to look after themselves. You can over-Mother plants to the point of expiration. Quite a few veggies, I find, thrive when left to their own devices. Obviously growing extreme produce in the opposite climate is a different matter and requires precision and care and skill on the whole… then again someone grew a lemon outside here, through neglect!

Water is the primary concern: Too much or too little, water is the deciding factor. That’s what I’ve found. We humans are comprised of over 70% water… most veggies have a higher content than that… I’ve never yet managed to overwater anything… although I find that most herbs don’t like to sleep with wet feet – particularly Basil – so water them before midday. Nuff said.

I put in the hard graft in early Spring – if everything has a good start then I can potter and gently maintain the garden, consume the produce and divide my time, throughout the rest of the year. A bit of focus again in Autumn to make sure everything is snug for the Winter and the ground has a good feed in preparation for the Spring… and so on. Once you have your old faithfuls identified you can use the extra time to experiment with more exotic delights, safe in the knowledge that the bread and butter will reliably continue.

Books are useful for reference… but not the law! Enjoy learning on the job: Watch your garden grow. See what is happy where. Identify where the worst pests lurk or live. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt.

We don’t have to work at making the weather or the seasons… they aren’t always ideal but in extremis is the point where our human intervention should come in, in the form of sun protection or watering or whatever is required.

The planet is designed for us to feed ourselves – Don’t insist on making it so impossible for yourself

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

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

Malala Speaks

Malala Yousafzai speech to United Nations, well worth a moment of your time if you haven’t already seen it. As subjects very close to my heart, Afghanistan and Malala were the subject of my first blog post. I am happy to see her so well, undeterred and so full of strength for the difficult road ahead. She is an example to us all.

Take heed

Peace

 

Savouring Now

I’ve found myself zoning right in to the tiny things just now. The pollination around the garden, the birds raising their young… sunrise… sunset… ant colonies and spiderlings. The organic wildflower meadows leading down to the river, the barn owl floating by at dusk while the bats flit about overhead.

I’m missing writing but have been taken over by a period of unintended deep meditation. It could be the heat, the pleasure of watching my garden grow after all the hard work or just my way of coping with the palpable changes going on for us as a species.

Within these hedges I am unencumbered.

Guilt is a powerful subverter and I have been wrestling with the guilt of not following the news, keeping up my opinions on global affairs and generally being downhearted about the state of the world… not being superbusy 24/7, not being sociable summer stylee, as well as the perennial guilt attached to not living how everyone else does and expects… of course.

I earn enough to cover what I need and, most of what I personally need… is free. I don’t feel my lifestyle is particularly selfish – I contribute to my local community and loan to farmers in developing countries, I provide a natural habitat for local flora and fauna and put up with creatures I’d really rather not for the greater good of humanity! I can’t summon any guilt for not being a rabid consumer or being in a perpetual state of, “What next? Where next? What do I want now?”

I am content.

This is a good thing. A wonderful feeling. A much sought-after state of mind.

I have realised that I finally do live somewhere that I don’t feel the need to get away from… I am now living a lifestyle I don’t need a holiday from. The restrictions that come with Lyme have actually given me freedom.

This split second in my life is to be savoured

life_moves_pretty_fast