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Things That Dent My Calm….

  • Waiting for the 43 bus.

I know.  You could have taken the tube.  But you thought you’d be clever.  You thought – the 43 is reliable, it’s a good service, it’s fast, it’s maybe an extra 10 minutes from point A to point B compared to the underground, but you can also get off it a few stops earlier and save the walk at the end, and I’m carrying a lot of heavy tools, I’d love to save the walk at the end.  I know I’ve been waiting ten minutes now and I could have hopped on these two alternative buses, but those alternatives aren’t quite as good as the 43 I’ll give it another 5 minutes

Look, I’ve been waiting 15 minutes now, 15 minutes, that means it’s got to come it’s got to come soon it’s just…


WHERE IS THE 43???!!!

I could have walked it by now I could be resting with my feet up oh no you choose to turn up don’t you now you choose to NO!  Don’t spend ten minutes explaining to the American tourists that they want to go another way!  Especially when you’re wrong!  I know they asked for City Street, but they blatantly mean City Road and you DO go there!  You really do just let them stay on don’t send them oh too late.  Too bloody late WHY ARE YOU TURNING LEFT?  A diversion?  What feckin’ diversion?  “Ah I thought people knew because my mic doesn’t work,” THAT MAKES NO SENSE.  It just makes no sense your microphone isn’t working so you just assumed everyone knew you were on diversion?  HOW?!

Long, slow exhale….

  • Lingerie ads.  Because less than 0.1% of human bodies anywhere look like that.
  • Chocolate orange.  I know.  It’s hard to take.  But in my mind, there’s chocolate… and there’s orange… and why would you ruin both by putting them together?
  • Cheerleading.  I’ve tried hard to find a feminist angle on this.  The incredible athleticism and talent of the performers, the years of hard work, their passion, their dedication, the empowerment of doing a thing you love – these were my opening moves, and they’re all good’uns.  Cheerleaders are incredible athletes and performers.  And then you look at the professional pay (pitiful) and the commercialization (all about an unreal, unhealthy female ideal that demeans women who just look like women, for being fat, when clearly they’re just women) and the culture which is, frankly, all about putting on a show for the Dads.  This isn’t a performance that tells a woman’s story or celebrates a woman’s physicality; this is a performance about sex, for men.  I would love, love, love to have counter-arguments put to this, because I really, really want to cheer for cheerleading, and struggle.
  • ‘News balance’.  Because when you’ve got 99% of climate change scientists saying that this is real, and it’s happening, of course you need to give the wacky guy from Sidcup equal air time to call them all idiots.  Of course you do.  That’s balance.
  • Confusing castigation of kids.

So sometimes you’re out at the park with your kids, and you’re tired, and grumpy, and it’s been a long day, and the kid spills her ice cream.  And it’s messy and icky and sad and you’re gonna have to change your plan and you just….

“How stupid are you?  Are you stupid?  Tell me you’re stupid!  Look me in the eye and say you’re stupid!”

To a four-year old.

And it’s heartbreaking.  Because sometimes you tell kids off because they’ve been malicious and need to learn the difference between right and wrong, and what to value and what to respect.  And sometimes people just lash out, because they’re tired, and you can see a child’s world crumple a little bit more, and it makes me incredibly sad.

  • Wheelie bags at airports.

I know they make you feel good.  I know they make sense, except on stairs or uneven pavements.  I know that it’s convenient and comfortable and all of that.  But for the rest of us, especially those of us who are wondering how you managed to get your giant, elephant-hiding wheelie bag of doom into the cabin as hand luggage, thus taking up all the overhead locker room in a single go, are less impressed.  My ankles.  My calm.  Both are dented.

  • Rejection of almost anything ‘because it just doesn’t feel right’.  A lot of the time your instincts are gonna be bang on the money.  Sometimes it’s gonna be bullshit.  It’s the lack of questioning which it is that makes me tense.
  • Mistaking responsibility, for power.  Yes, I know your job is very, very important and your choices now can change my life.  So do it.  Change my life.  Do so wisely, considerately and after great contemplation.  Don’t do it, because you like the feeling it gives you, and you like others knowing that you can make it so.
  • Mistaken sense of excellence.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve all been there.  When you’re feeling massive self-doubt, it’s a comforting next step to turn round and say, ‘yeah but I’m awesome’ in your special awesome voice.  This is especially distressing, I find, in martial arts.  I remember getting to my Grade 4 and thinking yeah, this is it, I’m starting to get ok at killing things.  You over there – bring your face very slowly towards me while looking gormless, and I’ll totally kill you ah shit don’t actually move at speed I’m not yet trained in oh well….

However!  Just because you’ve mastered the art of making your foot move at the same time as your hand, does not mean you are now ready to teach mini munchkins.  Kindly desist from telling newbies to ‘just hit it harder’.  If they need to hit it harder, I have no doubt that the actual teachers will tell them, and also, they don’t.  They just don’t.  I mean, I have a flappy mouth on me and tend to get over-enthused about fixing someone’s left foot no a little this way, maybe a little that – but I usually feel a bit bad about it afterwards, just in case it turns out that I was wrong.

This same angst also extends to the following: if you have plugged in one lamp once, please don’t pretend you understood what I meant about DMX Universe 2 if, in fact, you didn’t.  If you have just had your first novel published, maybe hang back for a moment before explaining everything you think is wrong with all the other books out there ever.  If you just googled the answer, please don’t make like you’re an expert.  All these things dent my calm, and what happens when my calm gets dented?  Well… I become temporarily a little grumpy and might go eat some Monster Munch, that’s what happens, and no one likes that.

  • Any argument which begins ‘yes but atheism is a religion too’.

This is what is known as a Fail.  You know why?  Because if right now a great big celestial deity were to appear in my living room and declare, ‘the universe is not what you think it is and dark matter is just one of my funny little jokes hahaha’ I would drop my current intellectual frameworks and start again from scratch in the light of this new evidence.  Whereas when science turns round and goes ‘the rate of decay on the carbon isotope would seem to suggest that dinosaurs pre-dated the Pyramids and there’s no evidence for Noah’s Arc or dragons’ it is the role of belief to reply, ‘fine, but I still believe X’.

I do not believe in science.  I have confidence based on evidence that as a human being I am prone to failures of perception or thought.  I intellectually understand that the scientific method of observation is the current most reliable tool for me to learn about the universe in light of my own limited sensory apparatus.  I have confidence that the scientific community, with its many many checks and balances, produces data and information to enhance my understanding of the universe with this tool.  I rejoice whenever something I thought I knew, turns out to be wrong.  It suggests that we’re using that ol’ method to its best, and that the universe is boundless, wonderous, and we have so much more to learn.  I do not find this a fearful thing.  I find it beautiful.

I can also find faith a beautiful and lovely thing.  I can even sit up and cheer for the notion that loving your neighbour is a good idea, and have no objection to a theological framework which promotes charity, caring and equality for all.

But please don’t tell me that just because I marvel at the scale of mankind’s ignorance, that makes me ignorant too.  Such things demean you, me, and the potential of the universe.

  • Gherkins.  Just don’t like ’em.  That’s all.
  • Rude cyclists.  I love cyclists, generally speaking.  Riding a bicycle is an awesome sauce thing, best way to commute.  Just don’t start cursing pedestrians because they mis-read your intention, oh man on a thing that means you’ll probably hurt them more than they can hurt you if you collide….
  • Needless remakes.  Don’t get me wrong – sometimes a remake is a good thing.  The recent Ghostbusters, while I know it was scary to many people, was arguably a noble bringing into the present of a beloved thing from the past.  Controversially, even Robocop‘s updated version wasn’t totally crap, as these things go.  But… a remake that adds nothing relevant or says nothing new with an old idea… these things make me tense… especially given how many good ideas there are just not getting put out there much…. back to the drawing board, please.

Next week, if we’re lucky, I might do a run-down of things that make me burst with joy and love for the world and all mankind….