Thursday, 22 June 2017

PASSIVE and PASSENGER are Equally Contentious Labels

Everyone tells me I don't need a car. I mean, let's face it, at my age! Why do I need to go out in the evening when the buses only run once an hour? Why do I need transport at my fingertips? Buses are good enough. Fgs, the Government gave me a bus pass, for which I am eminently grateful. Of course, on odd occasions, someone might give me a lift. Sometimes it works out fine, and I appreciate that, I really do.

EXCEPT...

Something terrible happens to perfectly nice people when they are IN CONTROL of the car and you are a PASSIVE PASSENGER.  PASSIVE and PASSENGER are equally contentious labels.

There are the usual problems which every non-car driver experiences.

  1. You have to leave when your lift decides to leave. You can't leave early because you are p....d off, or even later because you just met this incredibly dishy man. And that's fair enough. You can't expect your lift to inconvenience themselves, otherwise what's the point of a car?
  2. If you can't get a lift, and the buses finish before you leave your event, then you can't go. That's that.
  3. Whenever you travel by public transport, you arrive windswept and exhausted from whizzing over platform bridges or standing on the station in a wind tunnel. Or being rained on at the bus stop because the bus is running late. And the cold, the biting cold in winter, when the bus is nowhere to be seen and everything around is dark and miserable.
  4. Without wanting to be unkind to the unfortunate, it can be hard when someone very dirty and smelly sits next to you. I do understand this person has problems, but ... I am squeamish about stuff like that.
  5. You have to carry very heavy stuff, or else arrange for it to be delivered or buy online. This means you have a constantly aching back or feet. Or you have to use a shopping trolley which makes you feel 90 years old.
IT'S A LIFESTYLE

People tell me I don't need a car because I can get a taxi from time to time when I need one. But it's not a one-off. It's a whole lifestyle that is having to be adjusted to what is available in the area where I live. It was better in when I lived in Brighton as the buses go everywhere and run all night.

So taxis are out. If I used taxis every time I needed a car rather than a bus, I would be broke.

Then there are the occasional TERRIBLE EXPERIENCES a person can have when accepting lifts. It's not just me. Friends in the same position have also encountered similar problems. For example:

THE WORST PASSIVE PASSENGER EXPERIENCES
  1. When I first moved to Rustington, a woman I knew wanted to take me everywhere. I think her heart was in the right place in the beginning, but it became impossible. She was so intense and eager to please that I accepted even though I could, in some cases, easily have gone by bus. Then she would turn up 30 minutes early or even longer, and sit outside my apartment block blasting her horn and I was still in my underwear.

    To cap it all, I'd believe we were going to the cinema, or maybe for a drink in the pub, but we'd have to spend an hour in the garden centre, or maybe the supermarket, first. There was plenty of time. She'd made sure of that. I hate going to the garden centre or the supermarket and trailing around with a trolley when I think I am going to see a film, and when I definitely don't want any shopping or plants. Generally speaking, I hate shopping. I only go when I run out of marmalade. But in someone else's car, you are done for. I made a big mistake. I got in her car and she was in control, the Boss Lady.  It was soooo hard to extricate myself from this situation.
  2. "Don't worry, we will take you ALL THE WAY HOME. No, there's no need to drop you off halfway at a convenient bus stop."  Okay, sounds fair enough. But I am in the back of the car. The front windows are wide open, to allow the smoke to drift out. But science is not that kind. The draught thundering through the windows channels that smoke straight back into the car, depriving me (floundering in the back) of oxygen and creating enough toxic fumes in my tiny bit of air space to practically choke me. 
  3. When I was offered a lift to a regular event, the male driver in question was gallantry itself, until a couple of people made remarks about us arriving together. Sort of suggesting, by implication, we were an item. He was raging by the time he drove me home and ranted at me, as though it was my fault. Perhaps he thought I'd told people he was my man-friend, who knows? Some men are so arrogant. It's quite scary, having your driver in a state of, well not exactly road-rage, but something close. I told him the fact he had given me a lift did not mean I wanted to have his baby. Eventually, we made it up, and are now civil to each other. But that experience made me wary of accepting lifts from men unless I know them well.
  4. Then there was the intimidating woman-driver who took me to an event. I paid my share of the petrol so it should have been okay. But what an aggressive driver! She gave all the other drivers the finger, accelerated to within half a metre of the car in front, and then slammed on the brakes. At one point a car was trying to edge out of a difficult position onto the main road. She would not give way and missed hitting it by a heartbeat. At one point it passed us in the faster lane, and then she sat so close to its back bumper I was tensing up for the bang. She must have had her two fingers up in front of the windscreen for at least a mile.
INDEPENDENCE AT LAST

So that's why I need a car. It's about freedom, movement and independence. 

I found a super one on the Internet, see photo and I'm going to look at it tomorrow. I've checked out the current values, and the insurance. 

It seems perfect, so only something truly awful will stop me buying it. 





Wednesday, 12 April 2017

I Can't Stand Nosey Parkers.



I can't stand Nosey Parkers. Real, unashamed Nosey Parkers. The sort of Nosey Parker whose nose twitches like an excited squirrel about to unearth his nuts after a long, long hibernation!

What is so fascinating about what is going on in my living room?

Okay, so we are all, to some extent, curious. I understand that. We're all interested in other people. At least, most of us are. But now I'm talking about those human-twitchers always on the lookout, always nosing into other people's business, and who don't understand the meaning of the word "privacy."

Being on the ground floor, people have to walk past my patio window en route to the car park. I don't mind that. I like people. Most don't trot past with their eyes burning anxiously as they try to peer through my window glass. Hoping to see what?

The case in point is a married couple in my block of flats. They are both irrepressible twitchers of human activity. Rubber-neckers. When I first moved in, before I managed to get my blinds sorted, I felt like a specimen at the zoo. I contemplated putting up a sign. HOMO SAPIEN, (FEMALE) FEEDING TIME 7PM.

Sometimes I had a sense of humour about it. My friend and I would giggle, watching them as they walked past, not realising that we could see them rubber-necking.

He has taken Holy Orders, so maybe he hopes to catch me out in some minor sin that he can help me to repent of. But - eventually - the blinds went up, and the curtains went up. Incredibly their necks remained intact and not dislocated.

Now my blinds and curtains have had to come down again.

The workmen are here doing my damp proofing and plaster repairs. This evening, though, I wanted some privacy. The bookcase placed on its side in front of the window helped, with cushions and table mats on top, and a chair beside, see my photo above.

His Holiness comes up the apartment steps, veers left towards my window and peers through the glass patio door, over the two bags on top of the chair I pushed in front of it.

Infuriating.

Fortunately they will be moving in May. Let's hope the new neighbours will have a life of their own and won't need to rubber-neck mine!





Sunday, 2 April 2017

Giacomo Casanova, The World's Most Famous Womanizer, was Born This Day, 2 April

Casanova - by Adriano C. Public Domain
I'm not sure why I'm posting this on Msanthropeonline. After all, he LOVED women, and so, he must have been very charming. Maybe I would have fallen for him if I'd lived in the 18th century and met him. Yes, knowing me, I can be taken in by a sparkling wit and and engaging manner.

But he was ruthless and manipulative and deceitful. And women were his "victims" although possibly that is too strong a word.

He was born in Venice on 2 April 1725 and called himself by all manner of uppity titles, Baron, Count, Chevalier, to impress the ladies and other useful contacts. He hobnobbed with the best of society, Voltaire, Goethe and Mozart, and was on familiar terms with royalty.

His autobiography which he wrote while working as a librarian in Bohemia, was Histoire de ma vie. (Story of my life.) 

The following quote he made about love is courtesy of his page on Wikipedia.

Real love is the love that sometimes arises after sensual pleasure: if it does, it is immortal; the other kind inevitably goes stale, for it lies in mere fantasy. 

So, clearly, this intellectual did have some idea of what real love was; nevertheless he is known for his numerous and brief amorous adventures with women.  

One particularly bizarre incident occurred in Paris. He managed to convince an aristocratic woman, Marquise d'Urfe, that he could use his knowledge of the occult to turn her into a young man, his goal being some sort of payoff. Of course, as he would have known, his plan didn't work and the lady lost interest in his alleged occult abilities.

Why was Casanova impelled to pursue and seduce so many women?  

For a start, he was constantly in debt. As a result, he moved around Europe at an alarming rate. Perhaps he was never able to stay anywhere long enough to develop anything concrete.

There could be another likely cause. At age 9, his mother, a theatre actress who was constantly on tour, packed him off to a boarding house in Padua. (His father had already died when he was eight years old.)  The conditions were terrible and he felt angry and abandoned. Maybe this caused him to go off in search of love - and yet not be able to trust anyone sufficiently to commit to a lifetime relationship. (All this is just speculation on my part. No doubt a deeper study of the man might produce further possibilities.)

If I get around to reading his autobiography I will let you know! 

Casanova died in 1798. 

You can find a short biography with a video about Casanova here.




Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Girlgate


Six delegates, five men and one woman, are at a business meeting after hours. The refectory is closed and the coffee machine has broken down.

 After a gruelling session one of the men says, "I could murder a coffee."

"Right," says the man next to him. "I'll get the girl to fix it."






Monday, 13 March 2017

The Philosopher Who Rubbished Philosophers



Aristotle was boring, says Bernard Williams
Bernard Williams (1929-2003) considered much philosophy from the past to be mere flights from reality. Philosophical ideas, he believed, ignored what life was actually like and the problems that beset humanity. In 100 Great Thinkers, he is quoted as saying: "Writing about moral philosophy should be a hazardous business." He continues by asserting that most philosophers of the past did not address the issues, and in the end, they "refused to write about anything of importance at all."

What Williams Thought About Philosophers
·                                 Aristotle:
                        He was boring.
·                               
·                                 Immanuel Kant: 
        Williams abhorred Kant's reliance on the "categorical imperative" in defining moral behaviour. The categorical imperative required that rationality should be the basis for moral behaviour. His argument with Kant rested on the following beliefs:

·                                 To be moral, people did not need to act selflessly.
·                                 People need not take an impartial view of the world.
·                                 People's own values, commitments and desires influence how they see the world and act within it.
·                                 If we lose our individuality, we lose our humanity.


                         The Utilitarians: 
                         Williams disliked them primarily because they believed morality meant pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number. In Williams' view, pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number, as endorsed by the Utilitarians, was neither worthwhile nor practical, ignoring as it does several important issues:

·                                 The integrity of the individual.
·                                 The central projects that inform their life.
·                                 Special obligations.
·                                 Loyalty to family and friends.

Williams' Central Belief and Lifetime Achievements

We need to find our deepest impulse and follow it and allow ourselves to be driven by our inner necessity. Philosophy, says Williams, should ask us how we should live, not dictate to us our duty.

Bernard Williams was born in Britain at Westcliffe-on-Sea, and was educated at Oxford. He did his National Service in the RAF during the fifties. From 1967-1979 he was Provost of King's College Cambridge. He taught in the United States at Berkeley, then became a Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford from 1990 to1996.

Occasionally he appeared on radio and television and was for some time a Director of the English National Opera and Chairman of the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship.

Bernard Williams' Main Publications:
·                                 Morality: An Introduction to Ethics (1972)
·                                 Problems of the Self (1973)
·                                 A Critique of Utilitarianism (1973)
·                                 Moral Luck (1981)
·                                 Utilitarianism and Beyond, edited with A.K. Sen (1982)
·                                 Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985)
·                                 Shame and Necessity (1993)
·                                 Making Sense of Humanity (1995)
Sources:
·                                 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
·                                 Williams, Bernard, Descartes The Project of Pure Enquiry, Penguin Books, 1978.

·                                 Harwood, Jeremy, Philosophy: 100 Great Thinkers

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Money, Power and Beauty - Curses or Blessings?

   
Jane Austen, Public Domain

Once, a friend said, "I take the view that if I don't go out with the postman, I won't end up falling in love and marrying him." At the time, to the dizzy, Mills & Boon-reading teenager that I was, this seemed unromantic, even calculating. Surely you couldn't choose with whom you fell in love! Yet, she had made an honest attempt at self-analysis about what was best for her. Coming from a fairly wealthy background, love-in-a-garret would not augur well for a future marriage for this particular friend.

Of course, these days women are perfectly capable of earning their own money and setting their own parameters within a relationship. But, just how much have things changed? Do we still look for that extra something that seems to emanate from money and power? What do women really want from men?
Women have been uttering these little sparks of wisdom since the sixth century to the present-day. Here is a selection of some favourite female comments:
Reputation and Freedom
For some women, it was always simply a matter of quietly going ahead, doing what you want, and letting life take care of itself. Here are two examples from women of previous centuries:
If women want any rights they had better take them and say nothing about it.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.” ~ Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
Women Wanting to be Beautiful
Fifty years ago, beauty was essential if you wanted to “catch” a husband. If not beauty, then you needed to be, at the very least, a woman of some substance, preferably an heiress. Women considered plain were diminished by their contemporaries, female as well as male.
The Englishwoman is so refined / She has no bosom and no behind.” ~ Stevie Smith, 1937, (1902-1971)
As she had no hope of raising herself to the rank of a beauty, her only chance was bringing others down to her own level.” ~ Emily Eden (1797-1869)
On the other hand, some attractive women decided to compromise, and learned to use their natural assets to good effect – and were brave enough to say so:
I had always looked upon my beauty as a curse, because I was regarded as a whore rather than an actress. Now at least I understand that my beauty was a blessing. It was my lack of understanding the way to merchandise it that was the curse.” ~ Louise Brooks (1906-1985)
Others rebelled and decided they were perfectly all right as they were, a lesson many of us are beginning to take on board today as the diet and beauty industries become increasingly under fire for setting standards impossible to attain. At last, such deceptions as air-brushing are deemed unacceptable and many of us demand to be acknowledged for what we are.
I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want - an adorable pancreas?” ~ Jean Kerr The Snake has all the Lines (1958)
However, there are truisms that work as well today as they did in previous centuries:
Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” ~ Coco Chanel. (Gabrielle Bonheur, 1883-1971)
A dirty exterior is a great enemy to beauty of all descriptions.” ~ Mary Martha Sherwood (1775-1851)
The Cost and Benefit of Beautiful Clothes
Fortunately, today we are more enlightened and we care much more about wildlife than mink or ermine coats unlike Louise Brooks:
I was mad about clothes for a time. You know, ermine coats and those things eat up a lot of money.” ~ Louise Brooks (1906-1985)
The sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.” ~ Miss C.F. Forbes (1817-1911)
Money Talks
Back in the seventeenth century, playwright Aphra Benn (1640-1689) said: “Come away, poverty’s catching.” This does rather echo the postman metaphor in this article’s introduction. Some women have always loved men with the Midas touch, for example:
I have known many people who turned their gold into smoke, but you are the first to turn smoke into gold.” ~ Elizabeth I (1533-1603) to Sir Walter Raleigh.
Who can fail to sympathise with iconic short story writer, Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) when she said: “I must say I hate money but it's the lack of it I hate most.”
Even Jane Austen, (1775-1817) gentle romantic that she was, had plenty to say about money: “A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. It certainly may secure all the myrtle and turkey part of it.”
The American women’s rights activist and writer, Gertrude Stein, (1874-1946) was actually being rather sneaky when she said: “I want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to do to get rich.” But Stein was already a wealthy woman in her own right, and so, she didn’t have to.
Throughout history, women have had to make many difficult decisions about their multi-faceted lives. What is amazing and often inspirational is their spirited determination to rise above the realities of their lives and the often wicked wit that has surfaced throughout the struggle and the turmoil.
Sources:

  • The Wicked Wit of Women, Compiled by Dominique Enright, Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. London, 2003.
  • 3500 Good Quotes for Speakers, Gerald F. Lieberman, Thorsons Publishers Ltd. Northamptonshire, 1984.
  • Pocket Treasury of Great Quotations, Reader's Digest, London, 1977

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Things I Wish People Wouldn't Say

"Don't tell me what I'm feeling. I don't like it."


"I want you to meet my friend, Helen. She's amazing. You'll absolutely luuuuurve her." (No I won't. I can feel myself bristling already!)

Journalist: "A man was brutally murdered."  (Ever heard of a non-brutal murder. Somehow, by definition, murders aren't loving and kind unless it's a mercy-killing.)

Writers in general: "She sobbed uncontrollably."  (Does anyone - ever- sob while in perfect control?)

Stores / Tour Operators, etc: "Get a free xxx000xxx!!!!"  (That is a complete misappropriation of the word "free" which means unconditional. If it was free you wouldn't need to buy something to get it.)

Anything President Trump says.

Hairdresser: "D'you want product?"  Me: "What product exactly?"  "Hairdressers; "Product, d'you want product?"  Rolls eyes at the ceiling. (OMG, doesn't she know "product" means an item and is not procedure-specific?)

My bank / doctor's practice worker / dental surgery. "Hi Janet."  (Excuse me, but have we actually met?)

"How lovely to see you." (Okay if it's sincere but if you're looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone more interesting around, then it's a deal-breaker.)

Anything Nigel Farage says.

"I'm just here to help."  (Last person that said this to me was a retired chap who saw an ad I put on a local site for someone to do a small window-related job for me. He didn't want to do the job, because he was just off on holiday. He wanted me to contact "his man" who turned out - as I guessed - to be a double glazing company. 

No prizes for guessing what he got out of it. If someone says they want to help you, be very afraid!