Friday, April 30, 2010

Overusing English In Excess And Then Some

I saw a couple of things recently that forced that bemused and puzzle smile across my face, the smile that's a half frown, half chuckle and half WTF?

I was interviewing someone the other day and did that thing that a few interviewers do, I think they call it preparing. She turned out to be a nice enough person, Americanists would probably describe her as spunky but, here in England that means something entirely different and, in this case, most likely to be wholly inaccurate.

There I was, doing the preparing thing and reading through her CV. One of the things it said was

"fluent in Punjabi"

It's not a skill that would specifically benefit our business but I could see how it would be useful to many others, particularly in this area, where there are more Indians per square metre than, well Eastern Europeans.

All was well and good. Until I read the next bit. For, our candidate, or someone who thought they were smart and good at CV writing, had added after the "fluent in Punjabi" bit the words

"speaking reading and writing"

I kid you not, the comma after the first word was genuinely missing, that wasn't just me. I found that ironic in itself. More importantly I stared at the words "speaking reading and writing" and wondered what else there is to be included in the fluency in another language. Surely it's like a fellow telling you that he's good at origami and then adding that he's also quite good at making things out of folding paper.

Yes, she sure misunderestimated my English skills.

And then I was driving around and passed a shop, a bakery cum eating place. The sign said:

"Specialists in all types of egg and eggless cakes"

Well I ask you. Was the signwriter getting paid per word?

Why not just say "Specialists in all type of cakes"?

And let's not even get started on Sri Lankan signs?

Merry weekend out there all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Best Evil Laugh

I think we should get serious for a minute here. One of the important questions that popped up in my mind the other day was one about evil laughs, specifically how they're spelt and said.

Personally I'm partial to an evil laugh with some Ws in it. I feel that Ws add a depth and that bit more character. I like an evil laugh like this:

"Mwuh ha ha ha haaah mwuh haaa."

One shouldn't confuse it with the classic

"Mwah ha ha ha haaah mwah haaa. "

It's one that's favoured by girls, hence the cunningly disguised kiss at the beginning and towards the end.

My friend T is partial to a little:


It's not for me. The whole thing in capitals makes it too shouty, a little too aggressive. If you've ever read any Terry Pratchett then you'll know that only Death talks in capitals. The lack of space between the "ha"s means that many fellows, those without special training, can die from a lack of air while attempting it.

Some people, mostly in strange faraway lands, spell it with a B. That doesn't seem right to me, I hear no Bs in my head when there's an evil laugh cackling away.


It's more the evil laugh of a gay Uncle with a slight speech impediment, in fact it's more of a laugh, perhaps with a little bit of spit at the beginning.

What's your favourite one?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Excitement, Brixton Beach and the Motherland

That countdown has begun, the one that all of us diasporic Lankans are familiar with; the countdown until I hit the motherland. I booked a ticket the other day. It felt good.

I'll be ticking off the days in these coming weeks as the big one gets closer. There are gigs, meetings, rehearsals and all sorts of things to happen before then, including A's sixteenth birthday. I want to enjoy every single event, to savour and lap up each moment as it happens without wishing it away so tomorrow arrives sooner.

I'll also be hoping that the Icelandic volcano doesn't scupper my travel plans with a further eruption. If only it was a man I'd know that there was no chance. It would have turned over and gone to sleep and all would be safe.

And lately I've been thinking about the world, about how small it is compared to "those days". Flights are relatively cheap and technology has made physical distance so much less of a barrier than it used to be. We have the net and it gives us Skype, Facebook, Twitter and those things that some chaps write called blogs or something.

On Saturday night I was being talked at by in conversation with my Mum. She was telling me about the book she's currently reading, Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne, one I haven't read yet but definitely plan to. I actually gave it to her as a birthday present and was keen to find out her impressions. I asked, she told.

She told me that a lot of the story centres around events in Sri Lanka during the 1970s, in the build up to '83. There's background about the formation of the LTTE, of the treatment of different races in Colombo and Lanka during that time. (if you've read the book and I'm incorrect in what I say, please excuse me, it's what my Maternal parental unit led me to believe about the novel more than anything else)

Then the surprising revelation sprang up, like a rabbit after jumping into a field of slinkys. She told me that she's found the information, the retelling of history in the 1970s, if that's what it is, as highly educational and enlightening. I hadn't expected this. I was fully aware that my parents had been in England then, but thought that they were well up on Lankan happenings from then.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because things were very different back then." she replied.

"We had no internet, we didn't have access to the Sri Lankan newspapers and had no daily contact with people and events there like we do now. We were far less aware of what was going on."

So true, I thought, in my best Spandau Ballet voice. I remember those days quite well, for I'm older that you think. My parents' knowledge of Sri Lankan current affairs was made from a phone call to that Uncle who'd just returned from Lanka, from that copy of a newspaper that someone had brought back for them which was way out of date anyhow, or from the words in a prohibitively expensive phone call to someone in Serendib.

My Dad would go home once every couple of years or so, finances permitting, to see his mother and family, my Mum not so much as her family were scattered elsewhere. And of course we had those regular Sri Lankan gatherings at weekends at someone's house where all would trade tales from home, like Chinese whispers only Sri Lankan ones.

These days I can go online whenever I want. I can read the papers, the blogs and the Tweets. They give me a real time snapshot of things in Sri Lanka, albeit only from people and sources that are computer literate and able to afford the hardware. But that's becoming pretty much most people anyway, so is less of a barrier to be considered.

It's a hugely different world today, smaller and more accessible to all. As small as it has become, as easy as it is to talk to each other and interact, there's no substitute for the real thing.

That's why I get excited each time I book a flight back. That's why I can't wait to stare out of the window as we land, to watch the trucks and the street activity, to see the greens and the browns and the hustle and the bustle.

Even if the world gets smaller, if somehow Sri Lanka gets even closer, I hope I always feel the same sense of excitement, exhilaration and eagerness. It's cool.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Death Of The Engineer

This story by Rajaratarala as well as a question A asked me last week reminded me of one of my bones of contention. The question, unlike the answer, was a simple one.

"What do you think of technology Dad?"

My answer was one of those rambling Dad when we have to think and speak at the same time whilst trying to sound knowledgeable and wise ones. The ramble consisted of miscellaneous nuggets about positives and negatives, social networking versus family values and other stuff that people like Dinidu and The Auf are quite comfortable discussing but is way above my head.

My own Dad, before he retired, was a service engineer. He was one of those old fashioned types who went around to the customers of his firm and fixed things. That's generally what used to happen.

Engineers had a sort of inquisitive, nay creative mind. They investigated a fault or problem and figured out the solution. If that solution involved bending a piece of metal in a Heath Robinson fashion and then adapting a spare coat hanger to attach a widget to the flux capacitor then that's what they did. And in those days a widget was something tangible that had three dimensions and hurt you if it fell on your head, not a fancy thing that you can add to your blog to see what colour pants your readers are wearing.

These days, and I know I run the risk of sounding like an old bastard here, engineers have mostly become fitters, hardly evolution I reckon. I blame technology though, as I discovered in my answer to A's question, I'm mostly in favour of technology.

I frequently observe "engineers", a title so spurious these days that is has to be placed within speech marks, when we have to call them out at work for any number of computer or office machinery type problems. They turn up, ask what the problem is and then sniff around the appropriate bit of machinery and do everything that we've already done before we decided to call out the maintenance people.

Then they call their office and ask Dan the controller if he knows anything about that model. Dan tells them to check something. They check the something, figure out that it's broken, order a part from a massive warehouse somewhere near Swindon and return a few days later to fit it. There's minimal skill involved, perhaps the ability to use satnav, a mobile phone and some very basic training on how to open up office machinery and of course how to ask where the toilet is on the way out are the only requirements.

My car is a fairly decent BMW but technology and the demise of the mechanic is helping BMW, not me. Whenever there's a problem I take it to my dealer. Of course it's more or less impossible for me to take it to an independent mechanic as they face the prospect of the death penalty for even looking at a BMW and two death penalties for working on one.

One of the idiots at the dealer plugs a big computer into my car and downloads the information to tell him which part has to be replaced. It's done by another idiot, one who'd probably struggle to change a plug, and I end up paying a small fortune for it. Thinking is not on the agenda. All of that assumes the big computer is working. If it isn't then they have to call out an "engineer". Pah, I say. Sometimes what goes around comes around.

I dread to think what would happen if the computer "engineer" drives a BMW that has broken down. It could all get very messy, like one of the more advanced plots in Walker Texas Ranger.

Our forklift broke down at work some weeks ago. I called up the forklift company and they promptly dispatched an "engineer". Several months later he arrived, made some tutting noises and told us that we needed a new part. If I remember rightly the part was going to cost fourteen million pounds and a bit more for fitting it. I had no choice but to go with the suggestion.

Some days later a different engineer arrived but the part hadn't come yet. My lack of inverted commas there was entirely deliberate. He was an older gent, if it was in Sri Lanka I'd have been tempted to call him Uncle, and he was called Ron. Now I know in Serendib you don't have blokes called Ron, the closest you have is dodgy fellows closely linked with dodgier land deals and ex presidents and they're called Ronnie.

Here in England a chap called Ron is guaranteed to be honest and reliable. You could go up to a stranger, one with a "My name is Ron" T shirt, in the street and ask him to look after your life savings for a short while. He'd readily agree and he'd be there waiting for you when you came back. He'd probably have polished your coins for you while you were gone. That's what Rons are like.

This Ron took a look at the forklift and told me that the part didn't need replacing, that he could fix the old one and the other "engineer" was just being lazy. Ron then spent about three hours bending, banging and twisting all sorts of things to make the part work again. He succeeded, he went and didn't ask where the toilet was on his way out. As he left I watched him with that feeling that wildlife fellows must have as they watch one of the last examples of a species stroll off into the jungle.

What's next though?

How long will it be before Doctors stop treating things because it's too expensive and they just replace parts? Will I go to my Doctor with a pain in my arm and be told that I need a new arm? Will my Doctor ring up an expert and ask if he knows anything about arms? Will my Doctor become a "Doctor"?

Bring back the real mechanics and the real engineers.

We want Rons.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gone Today, Hair Tomorrow?

You know me well enough to realise that appearance matters to me. A chap can't polish a turd but I do like to make an effort in my dress, to at least pretend that there's some sense of style about the RD persona. Not that I actually wear a dress, unless you consider a sarong to be one.

Bearing all of this in your mind you can imagine how hard it is for me to face up to this painful truth; yes, I think I might be losing my, ahem, hair. Not a problem, I hear you say. Well it is a problem, for I like hair, except when I find it in food.

Actually it probably started about five years ago. A and K would tease me and say that I had a bald spot. I, being the face facts and deal with things head on sort of guy that I am, just denied everything, convincing not just them but also myself that it was just the way my hair had always grown. Then I spent a few years with a shaved head, which can disguise things and fool a fellow and all his friends.

I don't mean that I kept a shaved head in my bed next to me in a Godfather and horse's head way either. I mean that I had a few years of maintaining my hair at about a level zero, in terms of clippers. When in the motherland I could walk into any high class hairdresser and ask for a "Blacker" and the barber would instantly know what I wanted, though on several occasions I did have to make a special request for no extras.

After some time I got bored of the shaven look and thought I'd make a last ditch attempt to grow the old head turf. I did and things were okay, in a going slightly bald on top but no big deal kind of way. I experimented with a few hairstyles, from short with a balding area to shorter with a balding area to long with a balding area. You can probably see the link.

I did this for a couple of years and then got bored again. This was a couple of months ago. So I went back to the shaved approach. I don't like it, if I may be honest with you, and the RD locks are now growing in a rather wild and carefree way, with balding area. Well you know, as much as they can.

I've decided to face up to things. Things are that I am losing my hair, not big time, not dropping out in huge clumps all over the show, but it's fading at the top and sides. Scientific research tells me that it's classic male pattern baldness, something that comes to most men with age. It's a bastard shit bummer as far as I'm concerned because the other thing that I'm facing up to is the fact that I do want to have hair. I don't want a big shiny spot that can cause eclipses and other drivers to veer off the road because of too much glare. I don't want Dominic Sansoni to have to open up his lens by a stop next time he's taking pictures of me just because of the glare coming off my bonce.

I want a hairstyle. I want to be able to buy product and use it. I want to play Uprising by Muse at a gig and look as though I'm playing music I like, not music my grandchildren like.

Apparently there are a million trichology clinics all around London. They all say that they can do things to stop further loss and maybe encourage regrowth. For some reason I wouldn't want to get a hair transplant, that's one side of a boundary that I don't want to cross. I've emailed one of them, had an online consulation, which means not much really, and been told that I should come for a free consulation. But I've yet to book my "free consultation" at the clinic.

There's no such thing as a free consultation is there?. I know I'll go there and get told that they can probably help me, though there'll be no guarantees. I know it will be expensive, I know the money could be spent more wisely on other things, like Superdry clothes or poor people or something.

What do you think?

Should I stick, twist or gamble?

Or, failing all of that, should I make an appointment for a consultation at the hair place?

Vut too doo?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Help Us, It's Getting Desperate Here!!

There's a weird thing going on in these parts. Having spent most of my life in West London I'm used to the sight and sound of aircraft. I actually like the noise, it's been a backdrop for much of my history. I missed the regular ear splitting sound of Concorde taking off at about six each evening and I spent many a day in my childhood eagerly jotting down registration numbers of the soaring silver beasts.

Stick me in a foreign country, one that doesn't have planes flying over its capital at an altitude of about thirty feet and a frequency of about three a minute, and I feel reassured when I actually do get to see an aircraft, as if I've got back to civilisation. All a bit mad I know.

It's Sunday afternoon as I write this little postette to you. Iceland has had its volcanic eruption and, as things stand I haven't heard or seen a plane for about four days. West London without planes is quieter and that bit more peaceful, it's lacking that smell of aircraft fuel in the atmosphere that we're so used to. There's none of that pausing in the middle of a telephone conversation until the noise passes or turning the TV up for a few seconds until things go quiet again.

In this United Kingdom of so many millions of people I even feel a little stranded. One of my business partners got stuck here unable to get a flight back to his home in Ireland. He ended up taking a train and a ferry at three in the morning to get home for a wedding. He had to pull several strings just to get a ticket for the ferry. Academic Bro is currently stuck in the US of A unable to get back to London.

Facebook is littered with tales of woe. Friends who can't go on their holiday or their weekend break, drummers who can't get into the UK for gigs, shows that have had to be cancelled and best men who haven't been able to get to their brother's wedding.

It's not just us either, most of Northern Europe is suffering too, though they can travel within Europe far more easily than we can here. We've got ferries and the channel tunnel, all of which are full to the brim with people trying to escape either or get home.

I'm beginning to wonder how long we can last like this, alone on this small island. There's only a finite amount of supplies and resources. I don't want to panic but these things have to be said and the worst must be planned for.

I suppose the internet can keep us connected to the rest of the world for a while but sooner or later we'll need new MacBooks and even PCs. With no supplies available we'll just have to make do with last generation models. What if the first supplies of the iPad don't get into the country? The kids will live in a state of maltechnonutrition, forced to gaze for hours on end at images of their American cousins gorging themselves on new gadgets.

But what will happen when the UK's supplies of the iPhone run down? Will people resort to buying other phones or will anarchy break out, street violence and chaos like in House of Fashions on a sale day?

Please, I urge you. Send whatever you can spare to us before it's too late. We're not fussy. Any brand of flatscreen LCD TVs, anything with the Apple logo, designer clothing (only current stuff, not last year's collections). Drum related things too will be needed soon, particularly snare drums and new cymbals. Essentials like trainers, though only Nike, Adidas, Converse and certain lines by K Swiss are required sooner rather than later.

And lots of rice and curry would be handy if you wouldn't mind as well.

Thanks all, have a good Monday out there. I hope this message in a bottle gets found by someone before it's too late.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life's Eternal Questions - When To Step In?

I was half listening to a few of my team at work the other day. They were discussing a problem, or an opportunity as we're supposed to call them. There were three of them, people that is, not opportunities, nor problems.

I sat in my office, from where I could hear every word and see every grimace, each pained expression as they tried to find a solution. I knew that I would have been able to help them and the temptation was to step in, to try and offer them the benefit of my "expertise". I didn't. Between the time of writing and publishing this there's every chance that I may get asked but until then I'll carry on observing.

I'm confident that these are bright and dynamic people who'll solve the issue, they'll be able to give the customer what she wants and will hopefully learn from the experience. Even if there are some negative consequences from my lack of intervention I reckon they won't be extreme. It's all a bit like Jesus and the teaching a fellow fly fishing instead of showing him where the nearest fish and chip shop thing. Jesus had more hair than me though. And his Dad was a bit more powerful than mine.

And, talking of Dads (did you see what I did there?), the whole thing reminded me of an aspect of parenting, one of life in general one that I was talking about with someone the other day. It's about knowing when to step in and when to let your kids, or anyone else for that matter, fly, even if you know they're going to land with a nasty thud.

When I was a young sales manager one of my first (and sexiest) mentors taught me about field accompaniment with Sales people. One of the most valuable lessons was that you should never step in when you see the salesperson about to make a mistake. If you do, the chances are that the salesperson will never admit that they were going to make the mistake or, if they do, they'll never realise that it would have been a mistake, as they hadn't actually got that far.

So you have to sit there, watch the person make a mistake, know that you could have prevented it, but then talk to them afterwards and hopefully explain what went wrong and how to do things better the next time. It's hard but it's rewarding, it's teaching and it's learning.

As a parent I watch my kids making mistakes time and time again. Of course if they're about to step in front of a bus or do something that I consider drastic or dangerous I'll always step in, but that does raise the question of exactly what is drastic. The definition of physical danger is probably quite easy for all of us to agree on, but "drastic" or serious are matters of opinion. Or maybe you have a different opinion on that.

Parenthood, for me at least, is like that. You have to be there to pick up the pieces, or help when it's needed. You advise when it's asked for and then let the little bastards go out into the world and have their triumphs, glories, disasters and losses.

Knowing exactly when to step in and when to let things happen, that's the sign of true wisdom.

PS - In between the fifth and sixth paragraph my people at work solved the problem and moved on. They probably thought I was wholly disinterested!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy New Year To You

It's a challenge, that whole trying to think of an imaginative title for a happy new year post thing. In the end I've opted for the somewhat predictable but cover all bases title you see above, I think it sums things up nicely, albeit lacking in incisive wit or cutting humour.

It's an honour to wish you a happy new year. I truly wish I was one of you lot at the moment, trapped in the luscious greens and browns of the paradise isle, complaining about the incessantly searing heat. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but they haven't seen the grass in Sri Lanka have they?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Centre For Monitoring Election Violence????

Just a thought here.

Wouldn't it be far more positive, constructive and generally in the better direction if the Centre For Monitoring Election Violence (CEMV) was actually called the Centre For Monitoring Election Peace?

It's a bit radical I know, but hell, you know me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More Thoughts Of A Divorced Dad

Nearly three years on I must admit the divorced Dad thing is still challenging at times, though I continually attempt to be aware that however hard and challenging it is for me, it's probably harder for A and K.

A wise man said to me the other day that the only constant thing in life is change. It makes sense, though he wasn't that wise as he had a bit of a bogey hanging out of his left nostril and didn't realise it. Note to self; when dishing out words of wisdom check nose for stragglers beforehand.

One of the many things that surprised me was the dynamics of my relationships with A and K, how things have changed and are still changing. Before the split A (the now 15 year old) and myself were always particularly close and K (the 13 year old) was attached to her mother. It was never a problematic thing, just that A and I had a bond of sorts, both playing the drums, sharing a similar sense of humour and being similar in many mental characteristics.

A natural selection process had evolved and A and I would do many things together while K and her mother would do the same, so natural that I'd never really paid much attention to it in a conscious way.

Then post split, I was in the position of seeing the girls on Wednesday evenings and on alternate Fridays until Saturday evening. It's the way these things pan out and it's ultimately what I chose, so I'm not moaning to you, but sometimes it's fucking hard for a parent. Like a little piece of your soul has had to be removed for the greater good.

I've never wanted to be a once a week type of Dad and so I try continually to maintain contact on a regular basis. I call them, I text them and generally make every effort to keep things as fluid as possible. But that's not the answer because, while things in the post divorce life progress and move on, the life of a teenager also does.

I call, they answer and talk in monosyllabic, sometimes even less, tones. I text and I occasionally get a response. Interraction on facebook is frowned upon by K, while her sister is too cool to even let me be her Facebook friend. I try my hardest to remain as constant as I can in their lives. It's what I figure is best, to try to give the message that their parents are divorced but are still their parents, that I'm still their Dad, no matter what.

Those moments that I took for granted, lying on a settee casually watching some crap TV with A sitting on my legs or washing up after dinner and dancing to Maybe Tomorrow by Orson have become treasured and rare. I guess the wallpaper of constant contact with occasional outbreaks of non contact has changed to one of constant separation with occasional outbreaks of contact.

For most of the time I've been aware of a problem but not known how to fix it; the issue of time alone with each of the girls. One of the biggest surprises was that all my time with the girls was exactly that; with the girls. It wasn't just A and I, chilling for a bit and doing nothing much, nor was it K and I doing the same, it was the three of us together. It was and is fantastic to get time with them, even with all their teenage hormones and girl drama present, but different.

But, with finite time anyhow, how does one engineer a bit of time without one of the sisters being present, something that used to take place naturally without seeming to have a negative impact on anyone. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't, that it was better to see them together than to try to change things.

On top of that, over the three years, the relationship between K and I has grown and got closer through a series of circumstances that I'd prefer not to go into now. Sorry about that, it's a bit weird I suppose. Old RD telling you just about everything but not that little five per cent. It's peaks and troughs, positives and negatives, but I'd prefer a straight line, as long as it's at the height of the peaks.

So, after much rambling, I've got to the main point, which is that I've been looking for ways in which to re nurture my relationship with A without detracting from my relationship with K whilst working within the confines of the limited time we get with each other.

You may be pleased to know that there appears to be a speck of light at the end of the tunnel and I don't think it's either a train or a blow torch. Which is good.

In recent weeks there have been two or three times when it's happened and it's filled my heart with that joy of a pleased parent. It's no big deal, just like how Neil Armstrong would have felt if, after landing on the moon, he'd scored the winning goal in the World Cup final and, while falling asleep that same night had come up with a way to travel faster than light in a tri shaw.

Yes, A has called or texted me, asked if I'm at home and then popped round. She's then turned up, mooched with me, chatted about rubbish, had a bit of a laugh and raided my fridge. The talk has been about everything but nothing, the laughter has been over stupid jokes, kind of like we used to do.

I'm trying to stay cool, to remain constant and not engage too much.

But I am pleased. Sometimes only time can help these things. We try desperately to invent solutions and find answers and the passing of time goes and does it all for us anyhow.

That's my news, what's yours?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Meeting Bloggers - Part 58 - The Auf

When I started my blog, a few years before the invention of the computer, I never dreamt that I'd make so many good friendships and meet such a lot of nice people through it. It was just a blog, a way of chucking out a few thoughts and words and moaning to the few readers I had about people not being positive.

Now, all these years later, I've met many great and interesting people and made friendships that I hope will last for life at least until the end of the month. And of course I've got to know David Blacker too.

Last week I managed to meet up with Aufidius, not once but twice, another notch on my blogpost so to speak. From now on he shall be known as The Auf, with capitals at the beginning, he commands that much respect does The Auf.

I'd invited the fellow to come along to a screening that was being held by a group I'm involved with and, to my surprise, he said yes. This of course made me nervous. I knew he's relatively young but I get apprehensive, tongue tied and dribble quite a lot whenever I meet my heroes. The Auf, for his photographic skills alone, has become one of a band of chaps I admire.

Truth be told I was expecting him to be a bit of a soap dodger, the type who throws all his pants at the wall each morning and wears the ones that don't stick. Why? No rational reason but more because I knew he was a good friend of Dinidu, the social equivalent of a CV that says you were sacked from your previous job for being crap at it and sleeping with the boss's wife.

He arrived at the function, The Auf that is, not Dinidu, and there was a smell of cleanliness about him. I'd expected a big and expensive camera and a fast lens, maybe even an autofocus one, and a studious looking chap in a brown body. Instead the Auf was a modern and trendy looking chap, a couple of glamorous groupies in tow but with no sign of photographic equipment anywhere.

He's got a cool look going on, not cool in a "fuck me he's trendy for his age" like I have, more of an arty but I might model for Gap if I want thing.

We only had time to chat for a short while but I was impressed. The groupies hung on his every word as one would expect. A few days later I saw him again at another meeting but this time we could talk more. He's got a brain on him this chap and it does seem a bit of a waste that he's chosen architecture as his thing. With that sort of nous I reckon he could have been perhaps a drummer or even a lead guitarist if he really applied himself.

I don't want to sound too fawning but what an absofuckinglutely nice bloke. The only way I can give you a real idea is by telling you that he's such a top fellow that he easily could have been Java's son grandson. To be fair I'm yet to confirm definitively on the pants wearing side, but am sure a helpful blogger and friend of The Auf might fill us in on that one.

That was it. I'd like to give you some juicy gossip about him, a bit of bitchiness, but there was nothing. No sordid details, no fighting and no strange bodily features that made me pretend I wasn't staring when really I was.

His story might be a bit different though.

Happy long weekend all.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are You Calling Me A Liar?

How many times have you heard that question?

How many times have you heard someone ask it as if it's the be all and end all, as if it's the worst thing a chap could be?

I don't know much about religion, the eleven commandments and what have you, but I know that two of them are "thou shall not lie" and "thou shall not jump red lights but amber ones are okay if you look properly first."

My good old Mum, who hasn't been mentioned in these parts for some time, treats the act of lying as though it's the dividing line between a good person and a bad one. I recall being told as a child that one should never lie, that my Mum never did it, except for one time when she lied to me when I was about seven and a favourite Uncle of mine had died. She decided to tell me after I'd come home from school, not in the morning, to avoid me being upset during the day.

As I grew up and started to make my way in the world of adults and grown ups I realised that everyone lies, even my Mum. I also found out that lying isn't the most heinous crime in the history of heinous crimes, it's just a thing most of us do, to varying degrees and with many different motives.

Some people, like my Mum in that whole Uncle dying thing, might lie to spare someone's feelings, if of course she's to be believed. Others tell huge great whoppers bigger than even the womens' department at House Of Fashions in order to cover up huge immoral and maybe illegal acts. Others tell "white" lies to cover up minor acts of dodgy behaviour or small misdemeanours.

Then there's that position we've all been in, the one where I repeat a thing that you've told me beleiveing it to be true, when you've lied to me. Am I telling a lie or the truth? My view is that I'm telling a lie, but in good faith and believing it to be true.

I've been in many a meeting when a person has said or alluded to the "are you calling me a liar?" sentence, that very definitive make or break, do or die, either/or question and it used to stump me. It used to present me with an obstacle that I rarely wanted to leap over, knowing that, if I did, I'd be stuck over the other side of it forever. The other side being the one where the other person was labelled as a liar.

Not so long ago my thinking on this changed. I figured that the way to deal with this situation is to calmly say that I lie, you lie, we all lie so it's not that I'm calling you a liar and branding you as if you're a convicted peodophile who should never be released back into society. I'm merely saying that, in this moment, you're doing something that most of us do and I know it and I'm challenging you on it.

It changes that big obstacle into a minor bump in the path, barely noticeable and easily dealt with.

And, if anyone tells you that they never lie, they're probably lying anyhow.

As you were.