The Unbearable Niceness of Being

January 12, 2009


One thing that has struck me recently are the number of people using the internet as the grindstone for their axe.  Whether it’s acidic comments directed at individuals or the general attacks on opinions and humanity in general, there are plenty out there who like nothing more than lobbing a grenade in the traffic.  It’s a real shame, but perhaps inevitable, and I will admit to naivety in expecting anything else.  Never before have the jealous and the bitter had greater opportunity to publish their bile and present it to the world.  And it is about jealousy.  Why else would so many people part with their cash to buy magazines stuffed with paparazzi images of people in the public eye looking less than perfect?  Why else would they delight in reading the latest piece of tittle-tattle about someone or other getting divorced?  Why else would the Daily Mail still be in print?

Like it or not, for every thousand talented people, only one will make it big.  They leave nine hundred and ninety nine in their wake, some of whom will take out their frustration by commiting random acts of unkindness against them, or others, who have been luckier.  As someone who has always believed in the intrinsic goodness of people, this makes me sad.  The ones who have “made it”, the “celebrities”, are, for the most part, people just like you and me.  And had we been in the right place at the right time, we may well have been in their position, receiving the trappings of fame, but also the brickbats.  Why is it that someone who happens to be a good singer, or actor, deserves to have the detritus of their lives pawed over?  I often hear the argument “they’re in the public eye so they should expect it.”  Really?  In that case I hope I never become famous…

The thing I have trouble with is getting my head around the desire to be so unpleasant.  I can’t see why the disillusioned would see this as a useful way of dealing with their feelings.  I don’t understand why seeing a famous person who’s put on a bit of weight would make the masses feel better about themselves.  If I had access to plenty of money and tables at the best restaurants, you bet I’d put on weight.

For the new year I’ve decided to counter this by being a little more pleasant to people.  I’m not talking about random acts of kindness as they’re too easily done and really don’t mean anything.  That they are committed with little or no thought makes them as lazy as the acts of the axe-grinders.  Besides, we should all be holding doors open for people, giving up seats on public transport and saying “excuse me” anyway.  Let’s forget about the world at large, it’s too big a concept.  Let’s forget about the celebrities who, frankly, would probably rather be left alone to get on with life.  Let’s concentrate on things closer to home – friends, family, colleagues and so on.  Those are the people we should be nicer to, in a considered, rather than a random, way.

Unfortunately these groups are also among the most likely to piss us off.  Families fight, friends argue, and colleagues bitch about each other at the water cooler.  So what?  C’est la vie, plus ca change, and que sera.  Or something.  Get over it, these things happen, and likely as not they have no long-lasting ill-effects.  You know that a ‘phone call to a friend or member of your family will be appreciated, and there’s nothing wrong with reminding them that you like, or even love, them.  Plenty of my friends know what I’m like after a few drinks, expressing undying affection and so forth.  Things I mean when I’m sober, but only have the guts (or lack of inhibition) to say when I’m drunk.  I think the inhibition thing is as much about not wanting to be misunderstood as the embarrassment factor.  I’m actually quite envious of the people I know who are comfortable expressing their feelings sober, and it’s made me uncomfortable when they have done because I recognise the inability I have in doing likewise.  Envy is pretty useless so let’s do away with it.  Saying “I can’t do it” is an evasive way of saying “I don’t do it”.  And when you don’t do something, it’s because you’ve chosen not to.  I’m going to choose to do it and see how we go.

So, if I tell you I love you when I’m sober, don’t take it the wrong way.

Your thoughts are most welcome.


Baby, it’s cold outside

January 10, 2009

coldGenerally I prefer cold weather to warm.  There’s a limit to what you can do if you’re too warm – there are only so many items of clothing you can take off before being arrested for outraging public decency.  But when it’s cold you can wrap yourself up nice and cosy and enjoy it. And anyway, it doesn’t get unbearably cold here – minus 7 Celsius today – so it’s easy to do something about.

I also happen to love scraping frost off the car windows.

But enough about me – which do you prefer?


Nice one, Sydney

January 8, 2009

While watching the last test match between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground, mention was made of a statue in the stands of a chap known as “Yabba”, who, in the days when cricket was watched in virtual silence, was practically alone in haranguing and heckling the players when he thought they could do better.  Some famous shouts were “I wish you were a statue and I were a pigeon” and “Send a piano down, see if he can play that!”

That the ground authorities saw fit to honour him fills me with joy.



Jeepers H. Crackers!

January 6, 2009

It appears that I was wrong to assume that nobody ever read this.  So maybe I’ll carry on after all!


The Big Question…

December 18, 2008

I am going to be splitting my sleep today as I’m going to see the boy in his nativity at Nursery, so I’ll be getting up at about 12.30, then (hopefully) sleeping a bit more afterwards.

So the question is: how long should I stay up now watching the Australia v. South Africa match…?


Captain’s Top Tips

December 16, 2008

Some things have become apparent to me while working at the Royal Mail which I thought I would pass on as tips on how you can get your letters and parcels to their destination more quickly, and receive post more quickly too.

1) Be honest about where you live.  If you live in South Croydon, deal with it and stop telling people you live in Purley.

2) If you’re using, say, a gold-coloured envelope, don’t write the address with a gold coloured pen.  Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.

3) If you’re sending a postcard, pop it in an envelope.  Not only will the address be clearer, but it will stop everyone in the delivery office having a good old read of it.

4) Keep the address short.  Writing “22 Acacia Avenue, Petts Wood, Orpington, Near Bromley, Kent, BR5 5AA, United Kingdom” etc is just silly.  Just use the number, road, post town and postcode.  Otherwise some dimwit will stick it in the pile for Bromley and then it’ll have to be redirected.

5) Writing “Merry Christmas Mr. Postman” will always make sure that your letter or card gets delivered more quickly.

6) Stop sending glittery cards.  It gets everywhere, including on the other letters, which means that someone could get a letter notifying them of the death of a relative in a nice glittery envelope.



December 15, 2008

I now know how parcels get damaged.  If you’re posting something I can recommend bubblewrap.