There are some people that I have completely opposite opinions to. That’s normal. It usually makes for interesting conversations as well (as a matter of fact I just had one, having a mojito and overlooking Athytos bay in Halkidiki from the most beautiful spot at Blue Bay Hotel). I am obviously always right but this is irrelevant here, because I respect people’s right to think whatever they like and do not bother them about it. It is also irrelevant that occasionally these people may hold a particular view of the world so idiotic that without a sense of humour they would be unbearable. They may be White supremacists, fascists, feminists, ex-Bush supporters, homophobes, xenophobes, whateverophobes, you know the kind. Again, that is not the end of the world. What is the end of the world is that people with such views typically try to persuade other people that they are right and often take conversations there when they were not going there at all. In fact they were going somewhere nice, or nowhere at all, often a very nice place for a conversation to be a going, especially one among people with high emotional intelligence. Personally I try to keep out of these forced conversations because their only possible outcome is that they bring unnecessary friction among people who are neither friends, nor do they have much in common, and in all probability do not seek each others company. But it is often impossible. And when it is, my opening statement is this: “We are one conversation away from never talking again and it is this one, are you sure you want to have it?”. Sometimes they go for yes and others for a different topic. But the reason why I recommend you try it is this: When you do it, look into their eyes. The look you’ll see is one of somebody who has probably never been told before ‘this is my time and intellect and you are about to try to abuse it unsuccessfully for the last time. Have you nothing better to do? Amazing. I have. All the best.’
And, from another angle
As it is going to be a very blue holiday, I thought I’d go with it. There is nothing ‘new’ in them or borrowed, they are all old and blue. Then again, I am not a woman getting married, I am rather manly and only going there for a few days:-)
If this post gets more views than my other, more intellectually challenging ones, I’ll get blue in the face (picture to follow 🙂
P.S. Yes, I forgot that…
It is about hypocrisy. Widespread among young people, but often found among the not so young – common knowledge and a truth that often dares not speak its name. With most relations, there is a dynamic based on physical attraction. It can be between a man and a woman but many other colors are available for the discerning customer. So, what about them? Well, in the relations between friends or acquaintances there is (very often, if not always) a level of attraction that goes beyond the friendly. Let’s look at possible configurations, using the man/woman setup.
(a) He fancies her, she fancies him
(b) He doesn’t fancy her, she doesn’t fancy him
(c) He fancies her, she doesn’t fancy him
(d) He doesn’t fancy her, she fancies him
(e) She is not sure (well, no, since you ask, I haven’t met any man who isn’t sure if he finds a particular woman attractive or not. I do accept the statistical possibility, but I haven’t met anyone yet so I won’t theorise about them)
Now, the problem arises from the unspoken starting point that all non-romantic relationships will go under (b) which as everybody with more than a quarter of a brain knows, is not true. Still, options (a) and (b) are the least problematic. “What if one or both parties are in other relationships?” I hear you say. Well, (a) and (b) are still the least problematic because they exist on a basis of equality and any transition from the default position is likely to effect both parties in the same direction (even though admittedly not necessarily to the same extend). (b) is unconditionally unproblematic if true and (a) is likely to result in either or both of the two people expressing their feelings to someone who feels the same way about them. This is not bad, even considering that it may, in the worst case scenario, endanger marriage/s based on …hypocrisy. Yeah, we all know how these marriages go, but be my guest and listen to your mother who is telling you you should stop thinking like that and look after your marriage. I’ve got shares in a company that produces anti-depressants, so on this occasion you should listen to your mother.
Which leaves us with options (c) and (d).
On both these the balance is problematic. What do you do if you are either attracted to someone or you see they are? Ok, if you are the attracted party in (c), it is the simplest thing. The other party doesn’t find you attractive enough. If this makes things intolerable, tell the other person and take a distance. Don’t go out with them as friends, and if this person is your only friend, join a society or a club of something that interests you and change that. Do you really want to be going out with someone who a) doesn’t find you attractive and b) will leave you alone when Barbie comes along with her pink toenails and high heels (change this last bit as appropriate, for example Ken with his tanned looks and convertible car, or his Harvard doctorate etc). What? Barbie wouldn’t look at your guy twice? And how does this make things better? He’ll leave you for the plain looking girl that either has ‘talked to his insecurities’ or he doesn’t find plain. Great!
Which leaves us with (d). Right. Tell them. You have nothing to lose. Tell them that you actually fancy Barbie, Ken, Fabricio or Dorothy and they will work out the ‘not them’ bit, unless they are idiots and something needs to be said about you who goes out with idiots. Tell them that it is this particular thing that you like about this person. “Oh, I love Ken’s broad shoulders” (author masterfully avoids mentioning the attributes of Barbie that could be mentioned here :-). It obviously doesn’t need to be a physical aspect but it gives a clearer message if you want to let someone know.
Ok, I fully realise all of this is purely theoretical and an action counts for more than 000’s of words. But there is one thing that I think people should avoid because it smells trouble. If you are the unfortunate party in (c) or (d) avoid, at all costs, people who won’t ‘talk attraction’. They usually have an agenda and this agenda is taking advantage of you in one way or other. You should ‘put it on the table’ and talk about it, it will be very enlightening. If you don’t like what happens, you know you can do much better than that with your time (…said the guru). To be continued …here
A few years ago, I went through a period where I was doing something new everyday. I would think about something that I have always wanted to do and then went on and did it. One of them was to go to an airport, look at the board with the upcoming flights, make a decision there and then and jump on a plane to somewhere with nothing pre-planned. Right. While I strongly recommend this as an experience – to do alone – as you suspect I had some money and some time and you should too, if you decide to do it. Now, this is a much more soul-searching exercise than it appears at first: I was in London when I did that, which is helpful in some ways and problematic in others. Since no pre-planning enters the equation, which airport do you go to? Mmmm, you need to know a few things about the London airports. Some mainly fly budget airlines, some are much bigger and have a huge number of transatlantic flights or flights to the far East. Do you have the money and time to go far? I had 4 days so the transatlantic and far East options were left out. I went to Gatwick to take my chances. Gatwick south or north? I went for South and do not remember the reason, possibly because I remembered from past experience that it had a larger selection of places to go than I remembered ‘north’ to have. I may have been completely wrong but hey-ho, this is one of the things you learn about yourself. Will you go to an airport/terminal where you know the flights? Do you already know roughly where you want to go? Do you prefer it this way? For me the answers were no, no and no. So, here I was at Gatwick South, looking at the board. Yeap. Great. About 100 destinations flashing in front of me. Ok. Process of elimination. How many are too close to take-off? They are out. How many are flying too far away? Out. How many are to places that you don’t want to go? This will drastically narrow it down, it did for me. Fine, except you don’t know how many of these flights still have seats available. At a big airport/terminal like Gatwick South it may came to about 10, at least it did in my case. Then, you find out how much these seats cost, which, as it is very very close to take-off, may make it completely stupid to go for. Just to give you an example, there was a flight to Copenhagen which only had business class left for the measly price of £3700 return, which I thought was …a bit more than I wanted to spend on the ticket alone. Some destinations were also out of the question as they required extra documents that I didn’t have (visa, etc). And then, of the very very few remaining options, you may need to make this decision: Do you go somewhere where you’ve been, or somewhere you haven’t? Do you go somewhere where you know someone, or somewhere where you know nobody? Again, I went for the geographically ‘unknown’ options. For me that brought it down to Tallin and Krakow. Both were freezing (it was February), both very beautiful cities that I had not been at the time. Then I remembered: I knew a girl in Krakow.
worth reading I think. Well argued
This is …exactly what it says on the tin. It is something I do a lot, be in London and observe and participate. For those of you in research, yes, participant observation, in the most naturalistic sense. So, here I am, taking pictures with my phone around London and thinking of captions to go with them
So, say you land somewhere around King’s Cross in Londonland and walk southbound, as you should.
Buildings, old as sin, are looking down at you – what exactly are you doing here?
Fortunately when this place was designed somebody kept in mind that people will want to live here and maybe go for a walk in the park(s), so quite a few are in place.
When, at some point you’ve had enough of the British museum, which you will sooner or even sooner, you’ll keep walking and you’ll see that in London there are many many pretty girls around. Be careful.
And I thought I’d end on a high…
I love London. Let me qualify this: I love certain areas in London mainly in zone 1 and some in zone 2, so pretty central. I used to live there and I still spend quite a lot of my free time there, hence my affection for this area. This does not mean to say that there are no other areas that are nice, enjoyable or worth visiting. There are many, a huge number of which I have never been to.
I have many friends in London, and even more acquaintances. With friends things are great, as you don’t really need to say anything specific, you can switch off, if they are the right kind of friends. With acquaintances it is a bit more complicated. We meet, consume calories and culture together, discuss what has happened since last time, enjoy it, try to guess where things are going and then go our separate ways again. This is pretty standard, it happens everywhere. Now, for those of you wanting to join in, or are new in London there are a few things that you need to know when such conversations in and about London come up, so you don’t …sing out of key, as it were. Much like playing music, there are certain scales which, if you follow, you really can’t go wrong, you’ll sound like you are Westminster born and bred. Here are the main five tones of the minor London pentatonic according to me:
Tone 1) When conversations move to the direction of property and its prices (and they unmistakably will) this is what you need to be saying:
Example a) A friend has rented a new place and they are paying £2000 a month rent for what, to an unknowing eye, appears to be a rather small 1-bedroom flat in a really old building, in Kensington.
Right thing to say in rest of the world: “Are you out of your f***ing mind?”
Right thing to say in London: “Oh, I know, I have this friend who lives near there (here, it is advisable to input name of exact street, as it apparently makes the whole thing sound more …naturalistic), and he’s got this fabulous flat, £3,000 a month (you must always go up in the rent amount to offer the feel-good factor), his firm is paying for it (careful, this bit doesn’t always help the feel-good factor 😉 , I know, well, it’s South Ken, isn’t it?”
Tone 2) Meeting new people in a restaurant nobody from the group has ever been before
Right thing to say in rest of the world: “The decoration looks great, I like these butterflies in the wallpaper design”
Right thing to say in London: “Oh, but have you been to (insert name of other new and trendy place), it is amazing, the chef is this amazing (insert nationality or region, the furthest from England the better, i.e. Patagonian beats Mexican and combinations score even higher) and they do this fantastic (name of dish, obligatorily not in English), amazing!” Extra points when these are in fusion cuisine restaurants, like Thai-Californian, more bonus for using the correct abbreviation – for example ‘Japanic’. Wry smile.
Right thing to reply, if you are the other side in this conversation: “Oh, yeah, I love this place, I’ve got his friend who is an astrophysicist and I always meet him there, he knows the chef and they always offer us free (name of fancy cocktail). Here, optional, namedropping “Apparently, David Coulthart goes there a lot, I haven’t seen him, but I’ve seen (other d-list celebrity), he is much shorter than he looks on television”. Note: No friends with normal jobs can ever be mentioned, as other people around the table may think you are a normal person yourself and quite unLondony for that. Astrophysicist just about makes the cut, but you should aim for the likes of ‘nuclear enrichment expert’ with a few sprinkles of art ‘writer/composer/designer’ for good measure.
Tone 3) In most cases you’ll need to have at least one London-based and one worldly contemporary debate/conversation and people with great skills can bring them together: “Have you heard about this new (scientific development) happening at (some place abroad)? Apparently they will be piloting it here at Imperial College, they’ve secured £20m from the Clinton foundation and they will cordon off a big part of Richmond Park and they will (insert something rather absurd, preferably unheard of, for example ‘plant Siberian aubergines‘)
Tone 4) On holidays
Conversations on holidays need to be divided between short breaks and long holidays: Short ones (up to 3 days) should not be classified as holidays even if they are trips to New York but should always come with a twist.
Right thing to say in rest of the world: “I only had three days so I went to the seaside house of this friend of mine, and just spent the whole day by the beach”
Right thing to say in London: “This work colleague is a member of a holidays club and they get access to exclusive offers of discounts at these fantastic places. So, his wife just left him for this huge African guy, Somalian I think he is, and he said, “do you fancy going to Aruba for the weekend?“, so I said, “why not, man?”, the place is literally floating on the sea, I mean it is built on a wooden deck and the sea is underneath you, it is unbelievable.”
Adjust appropriately for longer holidays.
Tone 5) On traffic and being late
Right thing to say in rest of the world: “I am sorry (guys, darling, mate, everybody) for being late, there was a lot of traffic”
Right thing to say in London: “I am sorry, it is FRIDAY traffic (generally only applicable of Fridays) or ‘The northern line is down, replacement service, nightmare’ ‘Two lanes were closed as there were maintenance works for the Olympics’ ‘Regent street was closed so the taxi had to go around (insert place) – pick a deviation but don’t overdo it, Lewisham is too far if you are going from Soho to Notting Hill. Make it specific and offer anecdote too. “There was this old lady on the bus who was cursing the driver for being the antichrist, all the way from Oxford Circus to Bayswater” and close with “I could have walked the whole way here quicker”
That should keep you going for a night out. I’ll watch the Wimbledon final now. More to follow
This is, in my view, a well argued case made in relation to Jimmy Carr’s ‘scandal’, worth reading by anyone with interest in the case! The author of the post, Hyperteller, writes well, concisely and with clear focus. Recommended!
Last week, it emerged that comedian Jimmy Carr has been using a tax-avoidance scheme to pay only 1% income tax, effectively saving himself £1.6million every year. The scheme, which is completely legal, works by allowing investors to pay in their earnings, and then have them loaned back to them. As the loan could technically be recalled by the company, it does not qualify for income tax.
This is quite a complex issue, with Twitter naturally a hub of jokes, fury and denial. There were three main camps that people seemed to fall into;
- The scheme was legal, he did nothing wrong.
- This is disgraceful.
- It was wrong, but well done Jimmy for handling it so well.
I’d like to address each of these points which, in themselves, bring up a lot of other issues.
He did nothing wrong
Of course, the most obvious defence here is that the…
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I like the BBC. It isn’t perfect, it possibly isn’t the best television provider in the world or even in England but this is not the point. My point here is that the way that it works is more respecting of its audience than most other providers, public, state or private. At the moment the TV license, a fee that you pay in England which broadly gives you the right to use AV equipment, including computers, to watch live programming and certain recorded material, is £145 a year. Technically each individual household should have one if its residents consume these ‘goods’. For that, the BBC shows programming without advertisements among all the other things that it provides. Not to have advertisements, apart from everything else (and I fully understand the implications of sustainability for a tv channel) is more respectful of the viewers’ time. In 30 min of programming, you watch about 28 minutes of programme, with a bit of self-promotion of forthcoming programmes in between uninterrupted shows. This is comparable to about 21-22 min of progamming if you are watching a channel with ads on. Instead of getting more for your money, you get more for your time. But this is not the main reason why I like the BBC. It is its accountability structure. It is accountable to several boards and bodies, but, what I find most relevant, there are the audience councils, and they very often offer possibilities for audiences from everywhere to talk to them and make their opinions known. They get together in towns and cities everywhere including “near you”. These opinions get registered, and action is taken and reported back. So, I can go to one of the meetings of the relevant audience council (of people who do not belong to the BBC) and tell them I don’t like this or that programme including radio and internet, and if there are many like me (and not equally many people who love it), they take the programme off! Also, people who were seen as behaving inappropriately got fired, including big stars. Yes, of course I understand that what you don’t like may not change. Yes, I also understand that this sort of mechanism can sometimes be pretextual. It doesn’t matter! There is a structure to listen to people, not just to receive emails and letters that will get an automated reply. I like that. Plus I am sure my own £145 go towards paying McEnroe to commentate at Wimbledon 🙂