Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You don't know what you've got till it's gone

"You don't know what you've got till it's gone"  - Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi; "You Don't Miss Your Water (Till Your Well Runs Dry) - Single from The Triffids.
And other such sayings that highlight the taking for granted of necessary things.

Conversely, something I've discovered in recent months is that a lot of what people think they need today and can't even imagine themselves to be without is in fact a delusion and they've confused the word necessity with luxury or desire or want.

THE CASE OF THE TUMBLE DRYER
At the start of last summer our tumble dryer burned out, broke down, shuffled off its mortal coil.
And as it was summer we said "no problem, we're not using it now anyway, we're hanging stuff  up in the garden.
Autumn approached and we thought, shall we get a new one?...Naa.
We started hanging stuff up in the warm wash room, outer kitchen, boot room, whatever your social strata likes to call it, and that worked fine. Then as winter appraoched same question, same naa.
We got by and are still getting by simply by hanging stuff up.

Now here's the odd thing, other people say, "What, you've got no tumble dryer, how do you get by ?"
And here's the simple obvious answer, "The same way that most people round the world still get by and the same way my mum got by when I was a kid, we hang our clothes up to dry"

THE CASE OF THE MOBILE
Method: A couple of weeks ago my mobile started playing up, it was an easy fix that when I did it took 5 minutes, but instead of doing it there & then I decided to spend a week without a mobile phone.

Observations: I didn't miss having a phone in my pocket all the time, I didn't miss the irritating ring signal, I didn't miss being reachable all the time. However, others missed me  not having a mobile. And it was the same thing, "What, you've got no mobile, how come?" And again the simple obvious answer was, "Because I don't want to carry one at the moment."

Conclusions: Mobile phones for people like me are tools, they are not necessities. But for some people they are desirable objects to show off and boast about, and yet others seem to be symbiotically connected to their android phone, "androids" now that's a really good name for such people.

THE CASE OF THE KITCHEN TAP
Then two weeks ago, our eldest son, was drinking directly from the kitchen tap, you know, head under the long arching tap, and for some reaosn he suddenly jerked up, hit the tap with his head and it snapped off, the tap that is, not his head.

First thought (PANIC), "My God, what are we going to do without a kitchen tap?"
Second thought, "We'll have to get this fixed, double quick, we NEED a kitchen tap"
Third thought, "Well the dishwasher isn't affected, and we've got other taps"
Fourth thought (CALM), "Millions of people round the world don't even have water, let alone a tap, a kitchen or a house to put them in, we'll get by, we've got other taps"    

Initial action: fetching water from the laundry room, wash room, outer kitchen, boot room, whatever your social strata likes to call it, which is 7 feet from the kitchen sink and that system is still working fine.

       

Saturday, March 5, 2011

To blog is to think

Returning to blogging after an absence of 16 months! The need in me to write a blog again has arisen for a number of reasons. First and foremost the need to write something, whether it be a book, a blog or whatever. Secondly the mind-numbing boredom, inactivity, and sheep-like nature of social media like Facebook and Twitter. Thirdly, disillusionment over my return to the Catholic faith two years ago. And finally, societal developments globally, but also and primarily in Sweden.

I'm not going to write about all those now. But I am going to write a bit about Swedish society.
A few things generally lacking in Swedish society today are civil courage - i.e. standing up for what you think is right and intervening when you see something morally wrong or criminal or pointing out to people that you think what they are doing or saying is wrong and unacceptable.

Linked to this, and partly a cause for the decrease in civil courage, is the rising level of unpleasantness and violence in people when they are justifiably challenged.

Now, and this is the trickiest part to write without sounding like a xenophobe or racist.
I hate racism and I hate racial and cultural stereotypes. However, the more time goes by, the
more I realise that stereotpyes are based on experience, "no smoke wihtout fire" as the old saying goes.
Of course one person's experience is hardly the basis for a stereotype but when dozens of people report experiencing the same thing well then surely it's gone beyond being a stereotype and is nearing the realms of a cultural trait, that is felt to be acceptable by that culture.

And negative stereotypes or negative cultural traits cannot be defeated if the object of the stereotype continues year after year to answer to what the stereotype claims and refuses to accept that certain things in one country aren't acceptable in other countries. Just because something is a part of one culture doesn't mean it has to be accepted by other cultures in other countries where said trait is not acceptable.

Again today, I had another "foreign" man (I enclose the word foreign as I am myself a foreigner in Sweden, I do so because I dislike negative adjectivesl ike non-Swede, non-Christian, unbeliever, non-white, unAmerican etc.) man blow up in my face because I told him what he was doing in a shop was unacceptable and wrong, he just went ballistic, lost it completely and wanted to know if I wanted to hit him. He simply fulfilled the stereotype that Swedes have of this particular group of migrants, which is: violent, unreasonable and unable to communicate at a normal level.
Had he been a Swede, I would have made exactly the same challenge, however I doubt I would have been responded to in that way. That said, Swedes don't do in shops what this man was doing!

What saddens me is partly that more people are not willing to challenge this kind of behaviour and that's because of the expected, and unfortunately the violent response, which is becoming
more and more usual in society as a whole.

But what saddens me even more is that some members of this particular migrant group still haven't realised that the dislike they evoke in some people isn't racism and has nothing to do with them being foreigners or being olive skinned or being of a different religion, but it has to do with the rude and violent way that more and more of them speak and behave towards other people in the country they've moved to.

I wish they could see how damaging their behaviour is towards themselves.
What saddens me most though is that discussions like this can't usually be had for fear of being branded racist.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Old style cycling

Old style cycling

While cycling to work this morning (well in fact I originally wrote this on 10th August on another forum) with my briefcase hanging on the handlebars of my old fashioned ungeared sit-up-and-beg bicycle, parallel to the frame, I realised of course that a gentleman cycling to work in the first half of the 20th century didn't have a rucksack on his back to crease his jacket and make him sweaty, or panniers on a carrier on the back of his bicycle, he simply hung his briefcase on the handlebars.

This is perfectly safe on old fashioned bicycles because the handlebars being correctly up quite high and the bicycle frame itself prevent any risk of the briefcase going into the wheel. I changed over to such a bicycle about 8 years ago, due to pains in my lower back from hybrid, mountain and racer style bicycles.Since then I have had no pains, as I sit up straight & my backside resides on a very comfortable sprung Brooks leather saddle - Made in England of course.

I have no gears, so I have to use more leg power, good for the old heart! So no unsightly cables.I have a dynamo light on a bracket in front of the headset - so no batteries. Also I only have a coaster brake, so again no ugly cables.I also have no need for a carrier,as I have handlebar and saddle bags, in keeping with the vintage look. Which on an old bike is easy because of the metal loops on the saddle and the space on the handlebars that aren't cluttered up by lights, cables, gear changers etc. And an old-fashioed bell out by one of the handgrips.


Of course vintage cycling isn't just about old fashioned practicality,ease of use and comfort; it is naturally also about the dignified look! And the positive looks and remarks one garners from passers-by.
For example, last Thursday, as I came out of a shop ,there were two old men admiring some of the bicycles outside , and as I cycled off one said, "that's a nice bike you've got there".Now I don't think they'd have said that if I was on my Claud Butler hybrid.

Old style cycling - comfortable, clean, easy, healthy...but most importanlty perhaps, elegant and refined.

Since August however, in fact in late September I converted my "new" sit up and beg into a 1930s style "path racer"

More about such oddities later.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Life

Life takes on peculiar turns and changes.
Death does the same with each act.
Still surprised by each new twist
By each new interpretation, but
Shouldn't be,as there's very little
New from age to age in the game of
Life and death.

Always shocked when someone dies
Always outraged when someone's killed
Life is full of death, and
Death is a part of life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Denial

DENIAL

Nothing's happened
No it didn't happen
The TV is wrong OKAY,
That's just a film!

Yes mummy's fine darling
She'll be home later
No she wasn't there today
She's out of town.

It's just some sick joke
That the networks are playing
You'll see
Mummy'll be home
In time for tea.


This is a piece I wrote in about 97 or 98.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In the summer we're just animals

Have you noticed that come the warm weather, the retreat of Jack Frost, a.k.a. Kung Bore, the
light days, the healing rays, and the calming breezes that we -mankind - especially in the northern hemisphere revert to some kind of Neanderthal pre-civilised, pre-industrialised, pre-urban catalogue of behavioural traits.

During the winter, the cold, the damp, the wet, the dark, the heavy snow, we carry on with our lives in deepest, darkest, wintry January in exactly the same way as we did in October.
That is to say we carry on driving our cars, going to work and doing everything we usually do, making no concessions, for the fact that it is winter, in the way that the animal kingdom does by going into hibernation, reducing activity, storing food, warmth and energy.

Yet come the warmth & the sun, we get randy, we start peeling off for the heat, we have more sex or at least want to have more sex, and when on holiday we rest in the sunny afternoons after big meals, just like lions. In short, we revert to a more natural animal like behaviour.

That said, I hate the sun.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Five hours

11/10/01

Tiredness hit me not
Suddenly, but slowly &
Persistently like the
Wearing down of wood by Water.

My eyes first closed at 4pm but
I didn't fall asleep until 9.

Five hours waiting in an airport
Trying to stay awake,
Fighting the clutches of Morpheus.

Dreams came fast
And frequently
Distorted by the twisted
Events of the day, and
The 5 hours of struggling
To stay awake.

Turning & sweating in
An unfriendly bed in a
Hotel in a foreign metropolis.

I awoke at 4am
Scared & exhausted
By the nightmares
That reflected the truth
In their terrifying way.

And found myself
In my own bed at home
The day before I left.

These premonitions of
A terrible trip & that five
Hour wait made me
Cancel my flight & my
Meeting.

The News at 10 on the
Day of my cancelled trip
Reported the crash of my
Flight at 9pm, the
9pm when I fell asleep.

Only now I wouldn't
Fall asleep at 9pm
For ever, as my
Dreams had saved me
From that flight.

Now it is 9pm on the
Day after my flight & I'm
Afraid to go to sleep.
But a voice tells me it's safe.

Then I awake with a start
Dripping in sweat &
It's only 6pm.
I have some tea & a
Sandwich then
Retire at 9pm
Feeling safe.

And had a fantastic
Night's sleep.

Did this really happen
Or did I dream it?