Thursday, 4 October 2018

Essential Snobbery 101: For your noise be couth

Like really?
“That is what you say to unruly teenagers, not to 36-year old professionals.” She said at the top of her voice. I had just alighted from the tram on my way home as what came to perturb my silent contemplation made me look towards the commotion.
The sight I beheld left me raising an eyebrow accompanied by a snigger, she was in argumentation with two police officers, much of it quite disagreeable, as she sat on the embankment of the tram station on the side where the trams would come to stop, so she had to be moved on, but she was not budging one bit.
A raucous cacophony ensued as I minded my own business but could not help but think about what she said and how much like an unruly teenager she was in attitude and definitely not a 36-year old professional in appearance or demeanour.
What a pity
It might well be that at another time in her somewhat vibrant life, she was a professional of sorts, a confrontation with the law then welled up the urge for a sense of self-importance in order not to be treated shabbily, though every indication pointed towards a shamefaced humiliation.
She had with her demonstration brought a public audience to her pending predicament and there is no doubt that every pretension to being a lady had been lost to the vociferous outbursts that were quite unbecoming.
The moral of the tale being, never make noise when your cause is not in the quest of justice but in the folly of notoriety and the unnecessary charge of disturbing the peace. Little doth it take to respect thyself or none of it shall ye get.


Monday, 1 October 2018

Thought Picnic: Conveyors of character

Show yourself
Frequent travel brings you in contact to different people from all walks of life that without probing and conversation, it is impossible if you are not clairvoyant to determine where they are from, what they do and why they are travelling.
Yet, I think there is one place where expression and impression are so profoundly displayed. It is not in sometimes drunken boarding of flights, garrulous or intemperate behaviour or even the basic social graces.
At baggage reclaim
The best observation point is the conveyor belt at baggage reclaim, it is as much as the revelation of character as any. The ones who gather at the entry point of baggage when the conveyor belt is switched on. As if their baggage would run away from them.
The parents with kids that are out of control, who clamber over the belts before they start and attempt to drag off luggage well beyond their physical capabilities. This, despite the sign that the conveyor belt is not a playground. If one were to read more into the situation of unruly kids in a public place, you can only wonder what happens at home.
Just as the conveyor belt starts, watch the ones who literally ignore you, if not shove you aside to get at their luggage without a word about their uncouth behaviour. Or the ones who get their luggage and don’t immediately move out of the way for others.
And your character
The conveyor belt is in motion, the luggage moves around and comes back again except if by happenstance it gets picked up by another passenger, though that rarely happens. Wherever you stand, it would eventually get to where you’re standing. If you have to pull off more than one and are not fast enough to get to it, it would come around again, it would not end up in a black hole, never to be seen again.
At least, one would think in the West, there is more safety for person and luggage, not to have to stress oneself at the conveyor belt. I can never understand the rush to retrieve your luggage if you’re being picked up until you've made it out to the arrivals halls, you really have not yet arrived. You might well be detained at immigration.
Is revealed
What the conveyor belt scenario reveals of character can be deep and interesting, from the disorganised to the untrusting, from the impatient to the harried, from the rude to the uncultured, from the nasty to the atrocious. Amongst these, you can still find gems of humanity, patient, helpful, friendly, courteous, disciplined, informative and just nice.
Being a frequent traveller does bring you in contact with a broad stratum of society, some members, you’ll rather not meet anywhere again.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

The memories of sexual abuse never fade

No two are the same
Each case of sexual abuse is different and unique. The age at which that abuse first happened can be life-defining. However, one thing you cannot discount is the personal memory of the abuse to the individual, to the person and to the child.
Following a blog written about friendship early last year, the write-up went viral and by happenstance ended up in the readership of my father.
He had a perspective and an expectation of who I was supposed to be and where I might have been lacking, in another conversation from over a decade ago, it was one lacking responsibility. That comes with all sorts of connotations, but I challenged it.
Stand up for who you are
My response was, “If after all this while, you think I am irresponsible, that is unfortunate.”
He replied, sensing my hurt and disappointment, that was not what he meant. As I shook and trembled, I was not backing down when I said, “I know what you meant, I speak English too.”
Even to our parents, we have to come to a point where we are ready to stand up for who were are, regardless of who they expect us to be.
Soon, we continued our conversation on other topics until I received a text message of instructions to follow and respond to last August, following his knowledge of that blog.
The memories well up again
I was a few months short of my 52nd birthday when my father learnt that as a child under his roof and where people employed to care for us, were on the side, taking sexual favours.
It was not my intention to share certain dark episodes of my early life that my parents were completely oblivious of, but occasion warranted the need to talk about it at that time.
My memories of these events over 40 years ago are keen and vivid, they are not insignificant and for all that I have written about abuse in well over a decade, I have been fortunate not to consider myself a victim or be victimised for the experiences I have had. I have been blessed and lucky.
I know how the loss of sexual innocence consequently affects relationships, healthy choices, trust and confidence. This is always on my mind when people talk about their experiences of sexual abuse. We would prefer we never had to recall and recount any of it, and whether or not anyone believes us, one thing they can never do it consign us to irrelevance and relegate our lives or history to obloquy.


Monday, 17 September 2018

Your father is on Facebook

Yes, it is him and no one else
This question came from my sister this morning.
“Morning (or whatever), Is your father now on Facebook or one of his sons is impersonating him?
To which I responded, “Your father is on Facebook.”
Even I was surprised that he was on Facebook, but the story goes back to some time ago when I was trying a get a laptop over to my dad. The last few months have involved a lot of impromptu travel related to work that it has been impossible to plan anything.
Time, space and wherewithal
On another note, I sometimes contrast my professional life to that of my father, he was a corporation man with assistants and people he could call upon to do the somewhat important and mundane things. Almost 23 years of my working life has been as a self-employed and freelance consultant, maybe, if I had entered a partnership of consultants, we would have employed an office manager to handle affairs like that.
Then, in arranging to send the laptop, he also asked for a phone making the point that he wanted to have a go at technology before he departs.
An unexpected response
As it transpired, I took a few pictures yesterday evening and posted to Instagram with a cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, I also included a short poem.
The absence of bright lights,
Does not diminish the clear sights,
My face showing the provenance of my father,
Especially now that I've refused to lather,
The unshaved greys are proof of a youth,
Before you say I am long in the tooth,
For many times I was addressed as young man,
I laughed for that was just another fan.
Shortly after it was posted, I received a message with two pictures of my dad from my brother, who then informed me that the pictures were my dad’s reaction to my pictures and poetry. And there was my discovery that my father had joined social media to be engaged under the tutelage of my brother.
Welcome to Facebook
Obviously, my sister is concerned that she might have to temper her views because of the scrutinising pair of eyes of her father. However, I am of the view that if he did not know we were opinionated, forthright, controversial and frank in our postings, he would soon find out on Facebook, and that is a good thing.
He would be proud to know that the privileged education we all had has not gone to waste, we can discuss, debate, argue and banter, with grace, erudition and dignity.
My father is 78, he lives an active life pottering around on his farm or being actively involved in the community. Now that he has the added occupation of Facebook engagement, all I can say is welcome.
For all who care to know, our father is on Facebook.


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Thought Picnic: Am I just being silly?

This, I have desired
All my life, I have always wanted to be a positive influence on the people I met in different walks of life. In social and formal settings, at work and at play, I have hoped that any encounter would be enabling, encouraging, inspiring and building.
In many ways, I hope I have a good sense of self, some awareness, the ability to reflect and take a long view. There is a backstory that is full of events and episodes of life that I am grateful to have been able to review with the knowledge that tough times pass, and tough people laugh.
Yet, there are people I have been unable to influence in any way towards a better self and direction. I get to a point where I begin to regret and find fault in places that bother me in not sometimes enabling, encouraging and acquiescing to the demons that afflict the lives of others.
May I never burden you
By terms, I am an easy-going person who grants latitude and scope to explore and express, my entreaties and advice would always veer towards realising great potential and I see a lot of that in people, long before they see it in themselves.
My hope invariably is to steer people towards what I believe they can achieve whilst not driving or urging them but giving them a clearer vision of possibilities that they can work towards if they so wish. In most cases, I have achieved between limited to glowing success, however, I fear that some have become abject failures.
What I have desired my example, my conduct and my deportment to convey to some by proximity and observation has made no impact. Some people are quite set in their ways that I dare say have become impervious to persuasion.
Finding perspective beyond ourselves
Now, it is no desire of mine to create clones of myself, I would hate that I am mimicked, copied and mimed. That is never my intention when I am involved with people. There are in my view certain things I still hope to impart, the ability to handle responsibility, the ability to face adversity with a sense that one would not be overwhelmed, having function and bearing to manage situations that the avoidable does not become a disability, the practice of moderation even in your vices.
Beyond that, I hope there is humanity and empathy, the knowledge that the world owes you nothing, nor does it revolve around you. The ability to be grateful and full of gratitude for all things, recognising the need to count your blessings and by that fill your mind with an appreciation of the good things in life.
Some of this is probably too much to ask of some. They are selfish and self-centred, navel-gazing and full of self-pity, constantly complaining of others without any inkling of how they might well be complaining of themselves, by which they lose perspective, direction and focus. If by then I have found a way to extricate myself from the negative influence, I find myself burdened with issues I could well do without.
I am just being silly
I do wonder if I have had expectations that have crashed into disappointment, high hopes that have left me despondent and a deluded sense of influence that has left me feeling responsible for what is heading for the rocks and a shipwreck.
Maybe, I am incapable of tough love, the point where my liking a person beclouds my ability, to be frank, and honest about the truth of a situation. I am slow to wrath and sometimes my patience holds for longer than is necessary to retrieve a situation.
Then I think, why do I even think that I can influence anyone either way? What hubris has infected my sanity to suggest I can help anyone to any end? Whilst it is possible by some accident of circumstance, someone somewhere might have benefitted from knowing me and I knowing them. I do wonder if I am just being silly.