Monthly Archives: March 2016

Smalltalk

I am notoriously bad at small talk, I hate that business in England requires even as you don’t look people in the eye or wait for an answer small talk is required.

So conversations evolve thus:

(Person X wants Person Y to type up minutes and photocopy ten copies and bind them)

‘Hi, how are you’ (don’t really care how you are, please reply with fine thanks and you)

‘How about this cold weather we’re having, hey’ (yes, because it’s generally cold in the winter and you can’t really change that beyond dressing warmly or not going outside or emigrating. commentary has no effect on it, what do I come back with, ‘yes, it is, isn’t it’)

‘So you been keeping busy lately?’ (is this personally? does this matter in the business context? is this busy in the office? in which case you are saying I have too much to do/not enough to do? that I’ve taken too many coffee breaks?)

‘Can you please type up these minutes then print and and bind ten copies for me’ (why do you bother to use ‘can you’? this implies there is choice. obviously one could refuse but when it is part of one’s job description, refusal is generally not taken in a favourable light)

This backwards forwards bantering of meaningless prose has made me cynical about conversation in general unfortunately.

I have a friend who, upon meeting him for the first time, someone said to me, ‘he’s rather intense isn’t he?’

I can’t tell if he read some self help book and totally took it to heart, if he is just programmed for great politeness or if he just sees silver linings in everything, even when it is not possible to have a lining because it’s a cheap summer jacket from Mr Price. I actually suspect it really is the latter but that just makes him more weird to me.

Every time I see him sometime in the course of our conversation, usually within the first ten minutes, he will surface with a banal comment like, ‘LC, your hair looks great today’ (this genuinely was the last compliment he paid me after I’d come in from a small hailstorm, a huge amount of rain and a near on gale force wind) or ‘LC, that’s a really nice sweater’ or ‘LC thank you SO much for forwarding that email of kittens playing the piano to me, it really made me smile.’

I wish there were more people with such a shiny outlook to life to neutralise the cynicism of me. But I fear the shine tarnishes when too many people like me are looking at you funny trying to work out what your motive is.

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Je Suis

So now there has been a bombing in Brussels. And Paris and many other world locations will light up in the colours of the Belgium flag tonight in solidarity for this violent action against the west.

The left wing liberals will remind us again of the deaths in Lebanon, Syria, Nigeria, East Timor etc that are not recorded or publicised.

Many in the world will weep, somewhere I presume someone will be gloating and happy.

Why I don’t know.

It’s like the argument I had with Plus One last night where he resorted to calling me some really ugly names to reinforce how annoyed he was. It did nothing useful for our relationship and I sat there wondering what deprived childhood made him think hurling really nasty insults at me changed the way I reacted to him in a positive way or was in the least bit constructive.

Likewise the terrorists and bombers. What brainwashing process makes you think inflicting pain on others will prove your strength and win your argument? Clearly the concept of catching more bees with honey is not in the handbook of a war monger.

Instead the equivalent of trying to throw sand in your eyes in the playground or poke your eyes out seems to be the way to win you over to their way of thinking.

That’s not freedom of religion or freedom of choice.

At least the Scientologists offer the possible opportunity to hob nob with a plastic faced Tom Cruise. Rhema the chance to drive a fancy car on the church if you are high enough on the food chain.

Of course religion should be about enlightenment, feeding the soul, a glorious afterlife. But of course, in this day and age of instant gratification, creature comforts within the hope of salvation also go a far way!

*No fundamentalists were harmed in the writing of this piece. Freedom of religion, and the freedom to safely practice those beliefs without harm inflicted upon those around you or yourself should be a basic human right in this, the 21st century, hundreds of years later than the first Crusades. Something I know a lot of people who are supposedly of the same belief system as these terrorists would agree with me on.

 

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Divergent – Veronica Roth

I’m not going to lie. This is not a book I would have purchased naturally but it came as a ‘free’ Kindle option. (Also not a pro for me as I don’t really like e-books. I can’t flip through the pages at random and start and finish as I wish, and don’t tell me you can put electronic bookmarks in, it’s not the same thing at all.)

It was the best of the bunch offered on some random ‘deal’ as other options clearly included what was a ‘female fluff romance’ option, a historic novella of sorts, a ‘dark thriller’ and a ‘comedic’ option. Basically they took a broad sprinkling of mass readership and decided to promote about six authors.

It turns out Divergent has actually been made into a blockbuster movie. Something that I missed. And it turns out the third instalment of the movie is due out this year so I obviously live under a rock somewhere. (I am not going to see the movie, the girl is described as petite and blonde and interesting looking, the lead actress may be amazing but she is none of these so I’m annoyed already.)

It turned out to be a fairly fast paced read. Dystopian settings are very much the setting for both novels and movies at present and this fits both categories. Given the author is under 30, it’s actually amazing the pace she seems to be writing these books. Clearly there is a lot going on in her head.

The storyline isn’t exactly unique – the world blew up and now different factions rule the city, with 16 year olds obliged to pick the faction that best suits their personality type. The lead character is ‘divergent’ in that she could fit into three of the five categories and people always land in one in their aptitude tests. (They clearly never met me, there is no way ONE would have worked with my indecision) She threw in some interesting twists in developing this and for the most part writes well. The issue is really that some questions aren’t really answered in the first book and after being really naughty and wiki’ing the sequels I’m not sure they are really answered at all. Like who is in charge of the rest of the United States. Whether there is a great overarching authority. What genetic damage actually means.

I also find it a bit one dimensional to assume that one would grow up to be a tattooed freak just because one was born into the Dauntless crew and had to be fearless. Or automatically be an academic if part of Erudite. She does explain that the aptitude tests would allow you to determine a change of faction in your teens but it seemed nurture definitely won over nature as most people stay with their factions and if this is the case the gene thing didn’t make sense.

Maybe I just need to read the sequels. But I don’t have the energy to go through another e-book on my phone or search actively for second hand copies of the next two books either.

(I believe there is a’free’ ebook that explains many of my questions but it seems to be only available in the States. Like that’s not discrimination.)

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Work secrets

 

So there is this guy that has been doing my head in the last few months in our office. The type who makes this funny slurping noise before he speaks, looks permanently ungroomed but is geared for greatness to the frustration of his equals (minions) and undying support of his managers (equals). I can see he has some very good points but not really good enough for his role.
Currently I’m trying to be the bigger person – yes, me, and its working because I put on weight on holiday so I AM bigger…
So on Friday he went for coffee for half an hour then came back and crashed around cleaning his desk for an hour then left to go on a long weekend at 11am. I probably wouldn’t really have noticed except he really WAS crashing around.
Open desk. Shut desk. Lock desk. Open desk. Shut desk. Lock desk.
He did this about ten times and the office was a tomb at the time so after the fourth time I realised something was up.
WHO locks their desk anyways? If you lose the key you have to break it open to get back in and its not exactly the best security system. I only do this when I go running and I don’t know who the cleaning staff/security are after hours and my purse is full of money. Which isn’t often to be fair. The running or the money thing.
So I asked, what is in his desk (natch at the pub at lunch).
‘I’ll give you three guesses’ says my colleague, ‘because I know what is in there’
It turns out the answer is SHOES. SHOES!!!
When he was made permanent and promoted, he bought a pair of shoes worth £500 and for some inexplicable reason stores them at work in his drawer and then locks them in…. even when he goes to the toilet. I’m unsure what shoes we are talking about as I would guess his most expensive pair to have cost maybe £120 at the most but hey. We dispute if its the blue suede ones or the 90s Freedom looking ones. Or the brown brogues. None of them look that expensive.
I think an iron and a haircut and shave would have been a better investment.

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