"Learning to live and living to learn"
It is a beautiful morning, but a deathly pall has descended upon the domestic environment. The wife, shrouded in black, is moving from room to room in a state of shock and disbelief. The curtains are drawn shut and the sound of a passing train in the distance invades the silence like the distant cry of a wildebeest as it succumbs to the Masai huntsman on the plains of the Serengeti. Lily, (the dog who must be adored), lies motionless on the step, halfway up the stairs, her usual sanctuary when she is in the throes of depression. I stand poised, smelling salts and brandy in hand, lest the sadness proves too much for the consciousness.
“So, what has happened?”, I hear you ask, your head tilting to one side in an evident expression of empathy. I have no doubt that you ask the question with genuine concern. Perhaps you suspect that there has been a death in the family. Well, in a sense, you are right. For the source of such deep sadness in the household can be summed up in one word – “Eurovision” and the death, is the result for the United kingdom’s entry upon which a nation’s hopes of victory rested.
The wife, who strives hard to contain her Euro-fever every year is struggling to come to terms with the fact that the United kingdom’s entry scored the dreaded “Null points” in last night’s Eurovision song contest. “What on earth is wrong with the world? Why do they hate us so?”, I hear her muttering to herself as she reviews last night’s result on her iPad for the umpteenth time.
I hear rumor that there is an emergency meeting of the cabinet this morning to discuss the results. Chaired by the Prime Minster himself, I am reliably informed that the only item on the agenda is a new campaign called “EuroVexit”, whereby we will hold a referendum to take back control of the song contest. Next year, entries will be restricted to England and Wales. Scotland can submit an entry on condition it gives up all claims to independence and Northern Ireland will be allowed to submit proposals but only if they comply with European standards.
From now on, it will be known as “The British Song Context”, and anyone who utters the prefix “Euro”, in any context, will be jailed without trial, or worse still, exiled to the Falkland Islands.
WE ARE TAKING BACK MORE CONTROL……APPARENTLY!
In the corner of the universe which I call home, I have noticed a rather curious phenomenon which heralds the transition between week and weekend. Perhaps you have noticed similar memes.
I like to arise early in the morning, unlike the wife and Lily, (the dog who must be adored), who prefer to plan out the day, coffee in hand, atop the Titanium Aerocoil® Springs of the latest in mattress technology, (i.e., the bed). During the week, as I make my way to the office, the roads are clogged with commercial vans of assorted sizes, each emblazoned with such expressions of masculinity as, “Right Construction”, “Groundforce”, or my favorite, “Willow Pumps”. I often wonder who exactly Willow is and what exactly does he pump, but I digress. Mind you, the cars are no better, humungous “all-terrain” models with names like “Terminator” or “Voyager”, which I assume, were designed for those who live in the wilderness rather than the sleepy villages in the Kent countryside.
However, at weekends, the scene in the early morn is very different. On Saturday, the drivers of those fuel-injected expressions of masculinity, men of a certain age who really should know better, attire themselves in garishly colored lycra, and swap the car/van for the very latest in pedal-power. These strange looking, extremely well-fed creatures, which remind me of a Glaswegian Butcher shop window full of haggis in various stages of decomposition, fill the roads, and inhibit my attempts to reach my destination.
Do not get me wrong, I admire the intention to exercise and the dedication to environmental preservation, if only at the weekends, is to be applauded. But is it necessary to approach the two-wheeled weekend meander as if you were lining up to tackle the Pyrenees in the Tour de France?
Cycle, by all means, but you do not have to dress like a high visibility haggis to do so.
Why is it that I am always right, and everyone else is wrong? This is the question that was in my mind when I awoke this morning.
As usual, when going through the mental gymnastics’ routine required to structure a conundrum, I mull it over on the morning walk through the park. Lily, (the dog who must be adored), was also in pensive mood as we meandered through the wet grass and so, I put the question to her. She sniffed the air, as she always does when asked for advice, a behavior I am told is quite like that adopted by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza in the 17th century when asked for his thoughts regarding the relationship between the Self and the concept of a Universal Oneness. I interpreted her mithering to mean “Ah yes, oh wise one, for even when you are wrong; you are right!”
Now, I will be the first to admit that it is not easy always being right, but this is a cross I was always destined to bear, and I do so with courage and fortitude. Furthermore, over the years I have learnt to look with empathy and understanding upon everyone else because, whilst it is not easy always being right, it must be so much more challenging to live life always being wrong.
I can only hope that other people will respond to me with similar sympathy and understanding. So next time you see me, feel free to heave a sigh of consideration as you say to yourself, or indeed to those whom you are with – “there goes that poor individual who bears the burden of always being right”.
After the wife’s birthday, which I have managed to survive for another year following a somewhat belated, yet judicious visit to Javier, (pronounced Have-ee-air), the local florist, today is the second most important date in the domestic calendar. For today, is Lily’s (the dog who must be adored), birthday. “Happy birthday your majesty!”
You will note the order of importance – date 1 (wife), date 2 (dog). When I tell you that date 3 is our wedding anniversary, I expect you will ask, “but what about you, the man of the house?”. I can see the quizzical look on your face, as you recoil with evident frown. Well, let me tell you.
For a long time now, I have accepted my position on the lower rungs of the domestic ladder, which, for those of you who may have attended a course at a reputable business school at some time in your development, resembles the famous “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.
Like Maslow and his categories of motivation, in our house there is a similar hierarchy, but not of "needs". For us, it is a hierarchy of “breeds”.
At the apex of the pyramid, sits the wife in all her splendor, looking out over her domain, Queen of all that she surveys. Of course, she is busy in her reign and stressed out because of the many demands on her time and talents, for as the immortal bard put it in his dramatization in Henry the IV, “uneasy is the head that wears the crown”.
Then below her in the hierarchy, reclines Lily, (the dog who must be adored), like the favored eunuch at the court of the Empress Cleopatra, stretched out on the duvet, mithering away in my direction because, let us face it, I am a miserable surplus to requirements in the household. Then, below her we have a various assortment of characters from the family, and others who, in Lily’s estimation, are liberal with the issuing of treats on the morning walk in the park.
It is not until you plunge deep into the basement of the pyramid, below the foundation of the hierarchy of importance will you find me, waiting for my orders as I was this morning when Lily emerged from the folds of the duvet having decided that I had wasted enough time on the couch in quiet contemplation.
Yes, I know my place in the domestic hierarchy of breeds!
Of late I have been watching a lot of “how to” tutorials on YouTube and I am amazed at what other people can do. For the past 30 years at least, I have been making my way through life thinking that I was perfect and a master at everything I do.
But, with the help of YouTube, I have come to realize that I know “diddly-squat” about anything.
For instance, before I succumbed to the ravages of age and the world of XXXL, I used to think I was a good dancer. I thought I could connect with the rhythm and, with a few light ales inside me, could execute a respectable twirl and jazz-hands in sync to the beat. But, alas, I was laboring under a misapprehension.
I am mesmerized by the dance routines on YouTube. These amateurs are executing routines that, in my day, could only be experienced under the canopy of a circus tent.
There are YouTube tutorials for absolutely everything. Just now I typed in “How to build a spaceship” and I am spoilt for choice. So, as I set about broadening my horizons further and prepare myself for interstellar travel, I challenge you, dear reader, to explore your own new frontiers and get busy learning more about yourself and others.
Spring has sprung and the evidence is all around us, at least here in my corner of the universe. The leaves have returned to the trees and the birds began their chorus precisely 4.32 am this morning.
On the way to work I noticed that my fellow humans are also emerging from lock-down like butterflies from the confines of their chrysalises, bleary-eyed, perhaps grappling with the after affects of a glass too much from the carafe the previous evening and resigned to the demands of the workday ahead.
It got me thinking, spring is the season for rebirth and renewal, shouldn’t we take this opportunity to ask the question that we all too often avoid, namely, what is it that makes you happy?
After all, life is one more day shorter than yesterday for all of us and that more precious as a result.
This morning, working away in the office, I have found it rather challenging to keep my focus. Lately, I have been thinking of the many people that have come and gone during my life and I feel a certain degree of sadness. I am not someone who is very good at keeping in touch, something which I consider as a weakness, but every now and then, I think of someone from the past who had an impact on me, and I regret that we lost touch.
So, for all those people with whom I have crossed paths, I would like to express thanks for the opportunity to have spent time together and hope that we can find connection again before too long.
I wasted no time heading out to the park for the morning constitutional this morning. Ahhhhh, what a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, the wife is smiling and Lily, (the dog who must be adored), is out, front and center, consuming copious amounts of sniffage. Oh, and best of all, we are not at war with France.
The newspaper headlines are flush with the apparent success of the Royal Navy in yesterday’s “spat” with the French. Reviewing the front pages, I am left in no doubt that the Bulldog was poked and responded with an expression of raw power that would have had the great man himself, Sir Winston Churchill, popping the champagne corks and lighting up a cigar the size of a Christmas poo with a characteristic flourish.
I would like to express gratitude to “Boris the Bulldog”, and the rest of the Sneaky Blunders, for their strategy of aggressive posturing towards the French and in so doing, sending a clear message to everyone that we are not to be trifled with. That should encourage cooperation in negotiating trade deals.
I find the approach of the Sneaky Blunders towards international negotiation rather risky. I would question whether such a strategy is likely to result in securing deals which will prove Win/Win. At least, it does not seem to be proving so effective thus far, despite the International Trade Secretary’s unconvincing attempts to convince us otherwise.
Today is an important day in the electoral calendar here in the UK. I awoke early, the butterflies breakdancing in my stomach with excitement, eager to get to the polling booth. Unfortunately, however, its only local election but important if I want to ensure the bins are collected on time, the fire brigade will respond should my house burst into flames and the police should act appropriately, and with an even-hand, should someone of foreign origin, fail to stop at a red light.
I had a difficult time of it extracting Lily, (the dog who must be adored), from the folds of the duvet since she has lost all faith in the democratic process in the UK. Apparently, her view is that the current conservative parliamentary party, also known as the “Sneaky Blunders”, are no more interested in the future health, wealth and stability of the country than the cat who lives two doors down who, I am told, is a supporter of a Theocracy, which is not so surprising since she is Persian.
Anyway, I had to force her outside because I’m putting together a movie in which she is the leading role, and the polling booth is on my roster of locations. Talking of movies, the polling station at 7am was rather like a scene from the Romero’s 1978 zombie classic, “Dawn of the Dead”. A gaggle of mask wearing local poke-nosers checked me through and I cast my ballot rather like a seasoned angler casts his line, waste-deep in the cold water, hoping the fish will bite.
Which brings me to the latest barmy decision from the leader of the Sneaky Blunders. Our Prime Minister, in order to shore up his support in the local elections, decided to send gun boats to protect the fishing waters around Jersey. I really think it is time he stopped sniffing the Pritt Stick.
Let us disregard the fact that he has already seen fit to destroy whatever fishing industry we had in this country but now, it is all hands on deck and to battle stations in the English Channel. This is a good illustration of Johnson’s approach to diplomacy. I, for one, am not surprised he didn’t last 5 minutes as Foreign Secretary. I mean, what is the next step? Are we going to launch a rolling barrage along the Northern coast of France? How on earth does this help deal with a simmering conflict which, let us not forget, the Sneaky Blunders have, themselves, created.
At any moment, I hope I will awake and it will all have been a bad dream brought about by images from a 1978 horror movie.