The first Irishman I met made me cry

Gosh, it must be almost twenty years ago now.

My sister and I were travelling to Moscow from Mumbai; almost-adult fledglings in the departures hall at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, we were leaving our Indian family home for our Russian student one with our heads full of tales of caution about the crooked ways of strangers and the dangers of the wide world.

He was flying on from Moscow to Dublin; a small, quick person, carrying a sort of banjo and talking to all and sundry. He was inquisitive (nosey! I thought) and chatty (suspicious! I thought) and I tried to ignore him politely.

Then he started playing and singing songs of his home and we were captured in a sad and sweet trance. I can’t remember a word nor a tune, but I remember how I felt that day, when the first Irishman I met made me cry.

Funny how the thought of him just popped into my head now.

Poetry in a Scots dialect

The idea is good, as is the expression of it. Read it aloud, as poetry is meant to be.. and feel the Scottish dialect. The author Robert “Rabbie” Burns has spotted a louse on a lady’s hat in front of him while attending church. These is his gentle musing, that ends with a kicker.

To A Louse:
On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church

Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Swith! in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow’rin height
O’ Miss’ bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum.

I wad na been surpris’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’ fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do’t?

O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin:
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

Yes, I’ve blogged this before:
To A Louse: On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church

David Cameron, seen as a Middle-Management lackey:

In this scenario, David William Donald Cameron is but a middle manager,and a middling one at best; answering to far wealthier and more influential people, having to appease a bloodthirsty public on the one hand and blood-letting paymasters on the other. Just another middle-manager, emailing and meeting-ing his life away, knowing it means nothing, yet gaining pleasure in being above the not-middle-management people. Deliberately forcing out the platitudes and false sympathy while privately acknowledging his hand in the catastrophe he’s eulogising…

I pity the fool. I pity all those fools.

Countries where the Head of State and Head of Government is the same person

Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Equador, El SAlvador, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Oh, and the United States.


On Habits. (An excerpt from 2312)

Habits begin to form at the very first repetition. After that there is a tropism toward repetition, for the patterns involved are defenses, bulwarks against time and despair.
Wahram was very aware of this, having lived the process many times; so he paid attention to what he did when he traveled, on the lookout for those first repetitions that would create the pattern of that particular moment in his life. So often the first time one did things they were contingent, accidental, and not necessarily good things on which to base a set of habits. There was some searching to be done, in other words, some testing of different possibilities. That was the interregnum, in fact, the naked moment before the next exfoliation of habits, the time when one wandered doing things randomly. The time without skin, the raw data, the being-in-the-world.
They came a bit too often for his taste. Most of the terraria offering passenger transport around the solar system were extremely fast, but even so, trips often took weeks. This was simply too much time to be hanging around aimlessly; doing that one could easily slide into a funk or some other kind of mental hibernation. In the settlements around Saturn this sort of thing had sometimes been developed into entire sciences and art forms. But any such hebephrenia was dangerous for Wahram, as he had found out long before by painful experience. Too often in his past, meaninglessness had gnawed at the edge of things. He needed order, and a project; he needed habits. In the nakedness of the moments of exfoliation, the intensity of experience had in it a touch of terror – terror that no new meaning would blossom to replace the old ones now lost.
Of course there was no such thing as a true repetition of anything;ever since the pre-Socratics that had been clear, Heraclitus and his un-twice-steppable river and so on. So habits were not truly iterative, but pseudoiterative. The pattern of the day might be the same, in other words, but the individual events fulfilling the pattern were always a bit different. Thus there was both pattern and surprise, and this was Wahram’s desired state: to live in a pseudoiterative.But then also to live in a good pseudoiterative, an interesting one, the pattern constructed as a little work of art. No matter the brevity of a trip, the dullness of the terrarium or the people in it, it was important to invent a pattern and a project and pursue it with all his will and imagination. It came to this: shipboard life was still life. All days had to be seized.

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson.

Répondez s’il vous plaît, Parasite!

A “news article” on BBC Breakfast last week caught my eye. A bride had issued a distantly-related couple with an invoice of $70-odd for the food at her wedding because they had not showed up. Yep. *rolls eyes*

This is the link to that “news article”:

The crux of the problem seemed to be that they had RSVPd ‘yes’ for the wedding and then had not contacted anyone on the day to cancel.

One talking-head they had on telly to give his opinion was a self-styled ‘Etiquette Guru’ *rolls eyes* who I’d usually have no time of day for, but who made a point that the people who RSVP and don’t show up are usually people who are never hosts themselves.

I see this as parasitic behaviour, defined in a biological/ecological sense; i.e. parasitism as a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.

As the host of more than 100 events for Manchester Hiking, I often see this kind of behaviour. It is very rude in this era of mobile phones and internets not to let people know if you are going to stand them up and inconvenience them and others. Most will agree that any group is better off without such parasites. Thankfully there are also a lot of members who understand the spirit and ethos of a volunteering group and pitch in with time and effort once they get familiar.

Ever since I was a child…

Act I, Scene I

Actor: Hello, Chris Tarrant’s home.
Agent: Chris, it’s Dan here.
Actor: Sorry, who?
Agent: Dan here. From NMP. Your agent.
Actor: Oh, hi Dan, sorry, I didn’t recognise you there… err… (pointedly) It’s been a while. A long while.
Agent: Right.. er.. yeah.. talk about it… Anyway, we’ve got something new and interesting for you.
Actor: Great news! That’s what we bloody want to hear! What’s it about?
Agent: This’ll be just the thing to get you right back centre-stage!
Actor: Brilliant! So.. what’s it about?
Agent: Are you free this pm? We can get the papers looked over and signed asap.
Actor (suspiciously): What’s it about then?
Agent: It’s a brand new documentary on Channel 5..
Actor: Channel 5? Jeeez! Ok, what’s the documentary about? I always fancied myself as Sir David’s replacement [chuckles].
Agent: Oh, it’s not animals. Oh no, far easier to work with. It’s a new documentary about trains.
Actor: Trains? I hate trains! And what’s new about trains?
Agent: It’s a brand new documentary.. called Extreme Railways.
Actor: Extreme Railways? Extreme?? What’s new or extreme about trains?! Jeez! Is there really nothing else.
Agent: Nope.
Actor: But I hate trains! And they’ve been done to death. It’s always “Railway this” and “Railway that ” wherever you look on the telly.. I’m frankly sick of hearing about them! And I’m hardly the most natural choice to present this, am I? It’ll seem desperate!
Agent (mumbling): This is a different angle.. brand new concept..
Actor: And Channel 5? Jeeez!
Agent: Listen, Chris, nothing would give me more pleasure than to bring you a new show to host, but offers aren’t coming in. Of any kind. The barrel’s empty Chris.. the barrel’s empty… and you’re right, I’ve scraped right through the bottom here, but it’s still telly work…
Actor: …

Act I, Scene II

Actor (To camera): Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the railways, the throbbing lifeblood of a nation..

I imagine that’s how we got this:-

Under One god

I used to think that the idea of everybody believing the same thing was preposterous.

But now I’m coming around to it.

Imagine the whole world united, believing the same thing!

Everybody in harmony.
Everybody in touch with their better self.
Everybody reading the same books.
Over and over again.

Everybody in tune with the right opinion, handed down.
Everybody eating pancakes on a Tuesday.
Everybody munching beaver during Lent
Everybody doing the same damned thing.

(Oops, can’t say “damned”)

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Imagine you try to do a Jihad on your neighbour, and he’s doing one on you!
Imagine you go knocking on someone’s door, and meanwhile they’re round at yours, knocking away as well!

What a kerfuffle!

But a price worth paying to see everybody bowing their head in the same direction.

Some art will have to burn.
Couple of museums as well, actually.
And yes, there will be those oddballs that will need dunking to check for witch-hood.
Hellooo! Oddball Alert!
Inconvenient, LOL!

I can’t believe nobody’s tried this before(!)

Sex with a gorilla.

The quote goes: “XXXXX is like sex with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you want to stop, you stop when the gorilla wants to”.

As a child I loved the imagery of the ‘sex with a gorilla’ part.

Nowadays I struggle to recall which gorilla is taking its time with me.

Transaction-based approach vs Relationship-based approach

In business school we were taught that there were two approaches to conducting business; one that focused primarily on making the most of the transaction each time, and one that focused on building a relationship geared towards increasing number of transactions.

We were told that, broadly speaking, the relationship-based model was favoured in the ‘Orient’ (an example being the Asian corner-shop who will often allow a payment shortfall in the knowledge that the customer will clear it the next time around), whereas the transaction-based approach was synonymous with a ‘Western’ approach to business, (imagine Tesco doing that!).

In reality, of course, mixtures of both should be and are used. But is the situation read correctly each time?

The smart negotiator is one who makes sure the other party has a reason to come back to the table the next time. This would encourage a relationship-based approach. Unless there is a certainty that the other party will/can not come back to the table again. In that case, negotiate for the best deal possible at the time.

Recognising this, is it in the best interests of both parties to pretend to be in for the relationship while hoping to conduct a single transaction?