Friday, November 26, 2010

Unlikely Ways

I have a friend I meet in the pub every Friday night who makes little tin boxes as a job. That’s right: little tin boxes...all day every day, the sum fruit of his day-to-day, nine-to-five existence. Judging by that sentence you’d think he was depressed, right? Sad and annoyed at the world and feeling like he’s in a bit of a rut. Only here’s the thing with this man: he’s perfectly happy with his job, and every day he goes home to his wife and three children and says how good his day is.

Because his job is actually quite good, you see. It’s boring, but not boring enough to kill his brain cells, and this means that while he thinks about each of his little boxes he has space free in his brain to consider all the creative things he likes to do. This means that during the day his brain considers what he will create later on – he like to paint in his free time – and by the time he gets home the idea is fully formed. All he has to do is make it reality.

So you could say he has the work / home-life balance right. He’s happy with where he is, and the irony is that all the people who tend to surround us in the pub – not because we like to be the centre of attention you understand, but because we have a habit of sitting in the middle of the pub – are the unhappy ones. Annoyed with their lives, and without any time to enjoy the money they rake in every month.

I’m not saying that my friends way works for everyone. It doesn’t. But it does work, and it proves that sometimes being happy is born from living life in the most unlikely way.

What's Going On?

People go on about road rage and say how dangerous a thing that is to succumb to, but few people – at least in my experience – discuss pedestrian rage, yet to my mind it is even more frightening. After all, in a car you’re protected from the outside world by thick glass and even thicker metal, but if you run into trouble while on foot then unless you are very strange and walking around in a suit of armour you are going to feel a lot more vulnerable.

When I came across an extreme bout of road rage the other day – a man in a suit having a go at a woman who was clearly quite shaken – I wasn’t sure what to do. It’s not in my nature to step in and play the big man, you see. I am a passive soul, or what some people (who are wrong I’ll have you know) might otherwise refer to as a “coward” (and they are wrong, you know).

So there I was: finally I had decided to step in because the man was really shouting. Across the road, a man in blue overalls – he was standing in front of a Bedford fuel services van: I had memorized these details just in case I found myself before a judge in a court of law – watched and then he started to cross, coming towards us. I was in luck.

Only I was not in luck. The man in blue overalls started to shout at me and the woman, and it was all a mess. I still had no idea what this woman had done at this time, and then, as I looked at what she was holding and more people came running up behind me shouting “she stole this woman’s bag! Stop her!” I started to get the idea...

There you have it. Sometimes you think it’s a simple case of pedestrian rage and it turns out to be anything but!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Noisy Little Animals Know The Score

Walking past our local primary school the other day I realised three (probably very obvious) things. 1) You shouldn’t stare at the children because it makes you look more than a bit dodgy and that is never ever good. 2) Being young is approximately three hundred million times better (or infinity, whichever is greater, but somehow three hundred million seems even bigger as it is a real number and infinity is just endless and a bit boring) than being old. 3) The things we used to do as children...Why, exactly, do we suddenly decide that they aren’t fun any more and start doing lots of other things which are more adult, yes, but also very dull? Who knows, I am yet to find someone expert enough in the field to answer my question. (There was a four but I thought this wasn’t quite so important so put it in brackets: 4) uk teaching jobs look really demanding. I’m not sure I would want to be in charge of those noisy little animals...)

This is why I posed a question at the pub the other day: “why don’t we all do some painting at the weekend guys?” I said, with enough enthusiasm to beat the loud awful music into getting their attention. “I mean, why don’t we?”

Then they started to mock, calling me an idiot, and a drunk idiot at that. Which was true: I was indeed drunk, but they were missing the point. So I explained further. Said about how I had had this epiphany and realized that there are loads of fun things we used to do but just don’t any more. And soon I started to get convertees: people came to my side of the table and pondered this with great thought again.

Then someone three their drink at me and everyone laughed. Hahaha.

But still, it was worth a go I think. And I’ll keep trying too, because I see no reason why us adults can’t have as much fun as them kids.

Honesty: When And When Not To Use It

Growing up, I was confused: often I was told that “honesty is the best policy” and then, when I would be honest about something – often brutally so, like the time I asked the Asbestos Survey man if we would die from inhaling it, and he said "perhaps" – I would be told: “that saying doesn’t apply in that context, silly”. This got me thinking about all kinds of other things, like what other sayings there were that could be easily misinterpreted. They were troublesome years, as I got to know what I could and couldn’t say, and I offended people on a daily basis with my comprehensive honesty that left no stone unturned...

I recall one particularly devastating memory – devastating not for me in any way, at least until I understood the mental torture I had put the person through – of a hairdresser coming to cut my hair at home (she would come to my home because it was another way of keeping me in the house so I couldn’t be honest at a whole load of people who I otherwise would do). She walked in, her hair was sticking up a mess everywhere, and I said, “I know it’s supposed to look good, but it looks utterly rubbish, doesn’t it? Is that the look you were going for? The utterly rubbish look?” This sent the hairdresser packing before she could get within six feet of my hairy scruffy head.

So that was a problem, and mum sat me down and told me never to comment on how other people looked. Which was why I took it to heart. The next time we were walking down the street I said to someone in a wheelchair “I would comment about how you don’t have a right leg, but I was told never to, as it would hurt that person’s feelings, have a nice day”. Suffice to say after that we had to have a big serious conversation to make sure that I didn’t alienate our family from the entire village.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Embrace

Casually surfing the internet the other day, looking at such things as jewellery online (that was the name of the site) and wondering about the lives of the wife’s of men who went out and got the little diamonds that made up much of this impressive site’s content, I said OH MY GOODNESS I AM BORED! The thing is, you see, that I don’t even LIKE jewellery. In fact I never have. I don’t own any, wouldn’t know a good bit from bad, and don’t have any friends or colleagues who regularly wear the stuff. Yet there I was, really quite bedazzled by everything jewellery online had to offer. It was tragic: finally I was resorting to upper class (but well designed, I must say) jewellery sites to get my kicks!

But hold on there pal, I thought, maybe this isn’t so bad. Just maybe, who knows? Hmm. Maybe there is something here that can be salvaged, mentally, and perhaps not each and every one of my brain cells are done for (just most of them...). So I switched off the computer, and you know what I did? Nothing is what. Absolutely nothing whatsoever at all in any way, for a good ten minutes. I embraced my boredom karma, and I lay on the couch staring up at the ceiling imagining reaching the summit of mount Everest or what it would be like to actually wrestle a tiger, and I mean ACTUALLY, as though me and it were locked in a fierce embrace and only one of us could survive (and the tiger was annoyed, so this added to the dramatic shouting of all the terrified and enthralled onlookers).

Go on, have some of it, embrace the boredom. It can be fun!

Friday, July 30, 2010

It is up to individuals to save the environment, not governments

I fully agree with this post that while the Copenhagen Summit brought widespread international awareness of the economic benefits of energy-efficiency, it fell short on achieving its key objectives.

The most important steps that we must take include working together as individuals to achieve results. It is amazing the difference that just one person can have on the environment. Think of a situation where there is a long traffic jam in the middle of a large city. There are hundreds of motorists stranded on a jam-packed motorway, unable to move anywhere. There may have been a major car crash which leads to endless delays and even has a knock-on effect on the surrounding traffic in the area. The delays are so vast that many people are unable to get to work and the local economy loses tens of thousands of pounds. These motorists keep their car engines turned out throughout the traffic jam, thereby emitting higher levels of CO2 into the atmosphere. However, if each motorist had turned their car engine off during that same traffic jam, the CO2 emissions for that day, in that particular area, would have been significantly reduced.

In addition, if some of those motorists had used the train or had taken the bus to work, this would have reduced CO2 emissions. However, in reality there are still countless situations taking place every day in all countries where the opportunities to restrict our carbon emissions simply aren’t sought. All that is required is to take steps as individuals to protect our environment by remembering to use our energy responsible and to minimise our own personal contribution to the environmental problems we face.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are you itching to win?

We’ve seen many weird traditions including cheese rolling and maypole dancing. Clearly some people prefer to gain some publicity by taking part in the most strangest traditions rather than do something more useful like creating a Hair loss medication . However one country has created a new sport which has is its competitors literally itching to win.

According to this article in Yahoo News, a competition has debuted this year in Estonia has thirty seven participants in the city of Tartu in a field where they are given ten minutes to catch as many mosquitoes as they can. This strange contest was launched to deal with the massess of mosquitos in Estonia. The organiser of the event, Triinu Akkermann said "We have many mosquitoes and we must fight them somehow, so we decided to organise a mosquito-catching championship."

One of the competitors, Jevgeny Serov devised a strategy to attempt to win the contest. He said "We will warm up so we will start sweating a little then I will stand with bare hands and feet and my wife and daughter will pick mosquitoes off me."

However his plan hadn’t been the most successful as the first prize was awarded to Rauno Luksepp. The winning score was 38 mosquitoes with a lot of biting in the process, which won him a sailing trip on the Estonia’s Lake Peipus.

In addition to this strange nature of the sport, the competition rules do not state whether the mosquitos caught have to be dead or alive. Furthermore, competitors were allowed to work alone or in teams.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Smashing Fun

I have a friend called Darryl; he’s always relaxed and doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word “stress”. He’s also a picture framer by trade, and an all-around good bloke. Kind and passive and an old romantic, up until last week I had always put him down to be the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly and who spent his time doing yoga. How I was wrong.

I arrived at his door to find him sporting a menacing grin.

“Everything alright mate?” I said, noticing some nasty skin lesions on his right arm. “Why are you grinning so menacingly? How did you get them?”

He smiled. “Yes old chap, and you will soon see, I need to be more careful in future! You want to come and see what I’ve been doing? Maybe you could use it.”

I said I wasn’t convinced I did want to, actually, and that I did not want cuts on my arm or anywhere. He shrugged this off and asked me to follow him upstairs, said that soon I would be completely relaxed. We arrived outside the room which I had never been in. The secret room where I assumed he stored his picture frames. Relaxed was the last thing I was feeling.

“Now, I am about to let you in on a big secret, ok?” he said. “Do you think you can keep it? I mean, I wouldn’t want everyone knowing how I stay so passive.”

I said I would keep it, of course. And so we entered.

Inside it was completely empty. Except for a shelf with piles and piles of plates on. He grabbed one and threw it at the wall, and it exploded with a deafening crash!

“You have a go!” he said.

I said “why?”

He said, “you’ll see!”

I had a go, and I did. Smashing plates was fantastic for letting off steam! After we’d each done about twenty or so, I felt like a new man!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Face It

I have been afraid of birds of prey all my life; I know about as much about them as I do about breast uplift surgery. It’s for good reason, of course. Look them up on the internet if you need some reassurance (birds, I mean, not breasts). I suggest a nice close-up shot of a malicious beak and those terrible, evil eyes. Anyone who says that birds of prey are majestic and wonderful creatures clearly has something wrong with them: they are nothing but evil! I know this because I recently underwent a horrific experience with a number of them. Yes, I said a number. One would have been enough but no, I had to deal with ten.

It was my friend’s idea. He wanted to scare me out of my phobia, but sadly it had the opposite effect.

We arrived at the garden centre early. There was to be a The Majestic birds of prey sort of gathering, and members of the public would be allowed near enough to the evil ones to touch them.

Oh God.

“You sure about this?” I said. “I mean, they look bloody vicious.”

The first bird of prey handler man called over, “want to meet my hawk? His name’s Barry and he’s usually very gentle and loving.”

“Usually–” I groaned. “I can’t believe I’m doing this–”

We went over. I was quivering like a great big nervous wreck.

“Want to hold Barry?” asked the man.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Does Barry want to be held? He looks like he quite likes your arm so why unsettle him?”

Before I knew it Barry was making a b line for my face, his great big yellow jaws opening around my nose.

“Well I’ve never seen that before!” said the handler once I’d stopped shaking and could just about stand up. “Well, I’m sure it was a one-off”.

Except it wasn’t. Clearly Barry had told the others to get me. Again and again it happened, until I was shaken and in a bad way.

My advice? Don’t face your fears, because they will be quite fine on their own.