20 aphorisms for a disruptive world

Francois de Rochefoucauld  (1613-1680) wrote a book of aphorisms – one liners,which explored the difference between what people say, and what they mean. His tone is sardonic, dissecting the hypocrisies of his time.

I have tried to follow in his footsteps.

Philosophy

1.The needs of the one are always more important than the needs of the many.

2.Yesterday can teach us nothing, neither can tomorrow.

3.We have forced our children into early adulthood, while we return to infancy ourselves.

4.True wisdom comes from the realisation there is no wisdom to be found.

5.Free from the shackles of organised religion, we have nowhere to go.

Sex

6.Sex is just a phase.

7.Those who look for “emotional moments” are themselves incapable of true emotion.

8.We have never been so open about sexuality as we are now, or so closed against the knowledge of death.

9.Of all sexual choices, straight is the most beige.

10.Attraction

                  Passion

                             Conception

                                               Deception

                                                               Revulsion

                                                                              Separation

                                                                                              Resignation

 

Cyclists

11.All cyclists are saints. They are saving the planet.

12.They have right of way everywhere, apart from cycle lanes.

13.A cyclist may use their phone,take their hands off the handlebars,eat a tub of yoghourt, or read a book while travelling.

          Car drivers may do none of these.

Internet.

14.Selfies reassure us we are  still alive.

15.Airbrushed into anonymity, our faces mask what we try to reveal.

16.The wider our network of contacts, the more we are convinced that we are missing something.

17.Through Instagram, we have outsourced our memories.

18.Everything on Twitter  is true. But only for one day.

19.We can communicate with anyone on the planet, but many of us have forgotten the use of a pen.

20.Incapable of expressing our feelings in words, we use…..imogees.

     

   

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I am old, I am old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

 

I used to look forward to growing old. I had this glowing picture of me, with distinguished grey hair and a kindly twinkle in my eye, distributing Good Advice to my children and grand children, while my wife sits by the fire, knitting and stroking the cat, ( but not at the same time, obviously.) I would be looked up to, the family patriarch. My grandfather (only one, the other died years ago) was like that.

Well I got the distinguished hair. It’s a bit thin on top, but I have lovely silver sideboards. I look like the meeter – and-  greeter that the BBC wheels out  to meet  political bigwigs, who have come to have their noses tweaked by John Humphries. He looks like an ambassador. I could do that.

I’m a bit short on wisdom though. It’s not quite that. I have wisdom but….it’s irrelevant.  I can talk about the Elizabethan theatre, the history of my city of York, the wingspan of a Supermarine Spitfire ( 32’ 6”) if you’re interested, or the back catalogue of the Stones – but no-one is really interested any more. I do not understand the social media. Why do they all talk to each other in unintelligible abbreviations ? What’s wrong with the phone ?

Why do they have to take a picture of themselves every three minutes ? Do they doubt their very existence ?

I still use email. For special friends, I will write a letter. Remember ? That pen and ink stuff ? I can sometimes use Twitter, but it’s a matter of stab and see where you get to.

And all this is entirely irrelevant. It has always been the same. We old codgers have had our day because that’s  evolution, man. We’re irrelevant now, and extinct soon.

And we asked for it. Take one tiny aspect of daily life – fashion. Fashion is for the young and for elegant mature ladies. Not old guys. Beards are fine for hipsters, with tartan shirts and climbing boots. But any man over sixty should never grow a beard- you should have got that out of your system forty years ago. Look at Jeremy Corbyn ( difficult, I know, but do try) He looks (a) as though he’s forgotten to shave and (b) like Dr Shipman the Mad Medic. It’s a uniform – they all look the same.

Old geezers should never, under any circumstances, show their legs. Old male legs are indistinguishable from chicken legs in Sainsburys. And the shorts they  wear !  Great bags of canvas rippling in the breeze ! It just looks wrong, guys ! Get a pair of nice chinos and a summer jacket and you look like a film director.

And don’t wear replica football shirts either. You look like a wazzock. Stretched tight over a beer belly and balanced on skinny legs, you do not do yourself justice. And don’t wear sandals, don’t wear socks with sandals – just quit the whole sandal thing. Without, your feet look like lumps of  squashed haddock.And the toenails ! Chipped and splintered and discoloured like lumps of Roman rooftile.  And with socks ? No ! The horror ! The horror !

Mind you, I have come a fashion that is totally the fault of Young Dudes – and that is a too tight suit with shoes – but no socks ! Can you imagine what it’s like in there ? Slippery and reeking with footpong ! Is this likely to pull the birds ? Maybe -how should I know ?

No – it’s time to step back and let them get on with it. 

Every twenty four hours a day becomes history.

That’s profound, that is.

See my Amazon profile here

Make the invisible visible

I love Amazon, especially the quirky, eccentric stuff. I’ve been glancing at the offerings in their pre-sale sale (don’t ask) and I have fallen in love with two items after which I lust.

First of all, there’s a paper shredder.I need a new paper shredder. My last one died when I tried to shred two sheets of paper – so flimsy you could wrap of jewels in them- jammed in the works.It whined and coughed, spat out a wodge of mutilated paper, and then gave up the ghost.

That won’t happen with the Bosch 2200. I reckon it could reduce sheet steel to metal porridge in no time. It has a 2000 watt motor – you could fit it in a racing car. It has a 40 millimetre cutting blade that could do a decent job on the Forth Bridge. This is a paper shredder For Men ! And it costs three hundred quid. Maybe not then, eh.

The other gem is a torch. It’s multipurpose. You can use it as an ordinary torch or you can switch on  the Ultra Violet beam –  then it becomes something to behold.

It can make the invisible visible. It can:

Authenticate currency.

Reveal dried urine stains of dogs on carpets, rugs or clothes

Easily spot scorpions

This is what I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’ve always felt there was something dodgy about our banknotes – the new ones are even worse. They are obviously cut from oil cloth and handpainted with water colours. I’ve wondered for years – now I shall find out.

As for revealing dried urine stains – I’d never thought of that – perhaps dogs have been creeping into our sitting room at night and relieving themselves on the rug. I mean..you don’t know..do you…

And I shall know if we have scorpions. I think that maybe we have. I sometimes hear a tiny pattering in the corridor, a distant hissing noise. Scorpions are clever little devils. They exude a protein which makes them completely invisible in normal light, but in UV light they stand before you naked and ashamed. This torch will save my life.

And it’s only a fiver.

Side effects

Side effects

Danger ! This course of action
may seriously damage your health !

There are reports of dizziness,
a spinning sensation in the early stages.

You may become restless and irritable.
Weight loss may occur in many cases.
You may experience difficulty in breathing.
Light headedness and confusion are common –
giddy euphoria, sudden inexplicable despair.

Many people experience long term heart problems.

But that’s always the way of it
with love.

Which witch ?

th-2
Sylvia ? It’s me darling. Listen.
I want to ask the most enormous favour.
I’ve heard from Big Mac again! Yes !
He wants another seance –
still has issues around his career development plan
going forward.
He wants to come round tonight !
Just a little kitchen supper like before.
Could you have a word with Susie ?
See is she could make it as well –
and tell her to bring her leotard.
That Progressive Dance thing she does
really gets the spirits going.

No. My real problem is the food.
I’ve got some fenny snake in the freezer
and there are some newts’ eyes and frogs’ toes
left over from last time.
But I’m totally out of wolfs’ teeth and bats’ wool.
I don’t suppose you’ve got any, have you ?
And if you haven’t
could you teeter down to Waitrose and get some ?
They have some lovely artisanal stuffed bats
and you can pluck a bunch of fur
whenever you need it.

I’d go myself
but I have to collect Piers from his playgroup.

Be a darling.

Man and Dog

DSCF1967

Man

The dog plays football every day
with me, along the passageway.
We pass the ball from dog to man
and then from man to dog again.
I’m bored as hell. It pleases him
for dogs are slow and somewhat dim.

Dog

The man plays football every day
with me, along the passageway.
He tries so hard, it’s rather sweet
for one who’s blessed with two left feet.
It keeps him happy; I don’t mind.
I’ve grown quite fond of human kind.

Man and Dog

We both hate football.

How much happier we would be
watching cricket on tv.

Moments from a parallel universe

1.
Isac ! Your lunch is ready.
Stop moping in that orchard !
Go and wash your hands !
Unheard unseen
the apple falls.

2.
It’s a message, Will,
from the Queen.
She likes the play
but could you make Hamlet
a bit more cheerful……
and alive at the end..

3.
I shall call her Luisa.
If it had been a boy, my husband
would have called him Adolf.
4.
Honey, I got to stay late at the Oval Office tonight –
can’t make the theatre.
Okay Abe

Aggressive Squirrels

images

I love surreal headlines “ Man jailed in wire case”, “ There are no nails in cheese, say police.” That kind of thing. But I could never have hoped for anything so unlikely, so bizarre as “ School playground evacuated on account of unusually aggressive squirrel. “

But that was the headline in several papers yesterday.

I’ve never thought of squirrels as anything other than furry, cheeky chappies who run up trees and promote road safety. I wondered how aggressive squirrels are in general. Do they hang around the school gates, flicking their nuts at passers-by? Do they ride their chopper bikes over the rounders pitch? Do they make dark threats ? “ You want some action punk ,huh ? “ Gimme your dinner money, kid, or the My Little Pony gets it ! “

Then I noticed it was just one squirrel. You can imagine the type- born on the wrong side of the tracks, wears a (furry) biker jacket, chews gum a lot. How could one squirrel wreak such havoc that a whole school of small children was hurried back inside the school building ? Did he kick over the waste bins ? Pull a rude sign at Miss ?

And once they were inside – were they safe ? I could imagine thirty children hiding under their desks, shaking with terror. There is a terrible silence, then little footsteps pattering down the corridor. They pause outside the classroom door. The kids hold their breath. More footsteps, silence.

Then an almighty crash. Axe blows and splintering wood. Then a small furry face, sneering and full of hatred.

“ Heeeeere’s Tufty !”

Where are you now, Mrs Joan Huyton ?

coffee

spanner

As a result of The Great Linked-In Blagging (the world now knows my email, my old password and the size of my socks) I have made the acquaintance of a Mrs Joan Huyton. Or rather, she has come into my inbox. Or rather she and I have become interchangeable.

You see, I get her junk email, and presumably, she gets mine. I rather think the kind offers to increase the size of a certain part of my anatomy do actually belong to me ( You do WHAT with the steel weights ?) as does the invitation to drive a World War II tank in Devonshire. But as for some of the other stuff…well… I’m not so sure.

A careful look through Mrs Joan Huyton’s junk email has allowed me to build up a picture of this doughty lady. She is a keen shopper- supermarket chains are falling over each other to offer her “ Free Shopping for a Year !” She drinks lots of coffee and thus qualifies for…you’ve guessed it…free coffee for a year if she solves this simple anagram and completes a three page survey on where, when and why she drinks coffee and how many times a food item ( Chelsea bun ? Sausage roll ?) is involved.

But there is more to this innocent shopper with a coffee habit. She spends. Bigtime. I’ve no idea what she spends her money on ( apart from coffee and buns) but the payday loan sharks are pestering her to take out a loan at a trivial 12,345 % interest.

And then there’s the plumbing course. It drops into my/her inbox every Monday morning. “Make a Fresh Start ! “ it says, “ Set up Your Own Plumbing Business ! Be a Plumber” I can’t see it somehow. I have this vision of Mrs Joan Huyton as a lady of a certain age, and size, who wears sensible shoes and the sort of clothes which cover more than they reveal. I cannot see her kneeling under someone’s sink, fiddling with their stopcock. She is also a bit shortsighted, as the “ 2 for 1” offer from the opticians testifies. Which might cause unpleasantnesses.

She used to do yoga, but has given it up ( the group leader is begging her to return) She is financially innocent- dubious agencies beg the pleasure of getting back dodgy insurances from the bank…

I could go on, but decency forbids.

I have tried to unsubscribe her junkmail- but of course, that turns the flow into a torrent.

Maybe it will just fade away. Maybe Mrs Joan Huyton will go out of my life forever.

On the other hand, there could be an email, a DM, a phone call… a knock at the door… and she will be there, in her sensible shoes, a spanner in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other….

The Panzerschredder

Shredders ! Doncha love ‘em ! I bought a new one this morning because my last one had finally given up the ghost. It was a mean-spirited, wimpy thing made out of thin plastic that did nothing but make a self-pitying whine and whinge if I asked it shred anything more sturdy than a couple of sheets of fine tissue paper.

So I’ve got this new one. It’s bigger, black and somehow more…manly.

Before I set it up, I happened to glance at the instructions on the box- in four languages-English, German, French, and something full of vowels which I will call Dutch. It’s fascinating how national differences spring out from the tiniest pieces of text.

The English description is short, straightforward and to the point:

“6 sheet paper cross cut shredder”

Well, you can’t argue with that. The German description was much more allusive:

“ Sechs Blatt CrosscutAktentvernichter”

Six pages is obvious, as is the borrowed “ Cross cut” – but Aktenvernichter ! Do you know what it means ? Have you any idea ? It means “Destroyer” – this thing will destroy your Acts ! In fact it’s worse than that- “vernichten” means to annihilate, to reduce to nothing !
I’m looking at the black box under my desk with new respect. Is it some kind of Panzerschredder ? Have I just brought Death The Destroyer Of Worlds back from Staples Stationery Store ?

The French have a more flamboyant view:

“6 feuilles destructeur de documents a coupe croisse”

That’s got real style, don’t you think ? “ feuilles” for a start- which means “leaves” and not “pages”.” And the destructeur de documents is obviously a character from the “ The three Musketeers”- probably one of Richelieu’s bad boys.

“ Aha Monsieur, I, the Destroyer of Documents, will shred your paltry leaves with my cross cut Wiff ! Waff ! “

But I really like the Dutch version:

“6 vel papierverschnipperer”

This is a character from Hans Christan Andersen, isn’t it ? The thin,sharp eyed Papierverschnipperer- a kind of Dutch Edward Scissor Hands- who snips every bit of papier- 6 vels at a time. He would make a good excuse for Dutch schoolchildren, wouldn’t he ? “ I’m sorry, Meinheer, but the Papierverschnipperer cut up my homework !”

I’m looking at it now. It’s waiting, maw open wide, motor throbbing…it could have my arm off…don’t worry, I’ll be careful …I’ll….agh !”