Social Conditioning is a bitch, ain’t it?

Someone on Facebook actually wrote this into their book.  I presume they are American.  I am sure it is relevant to a macho culture, where women are still expected to spend the equivalent of a small car on looking pretty so that some big hairy bloke pays for a date, but it is not terribly relevant in my country, where the women were expected to fight off English soldiers at home whilst the men ran for the hills to plan the counter attacks.
You can imagine that your social conditioning has some relevance in nature, but it would not be true.  Women are just as capable of doing the running as men are.  Some women prefer it.  Some men prefer it.  Some people don’t actually want to be together at all, and prefer to remain in a stalemate situation forever.
It depends on what you want.  I was in very responsible positions from a fairly early age, so men became relatively minor figures.  A good kitchen runs a bit like a beehive, so you get used to several of them running about at your feet.  Whilst I freely admit that men are often confused when you openly do the chasing, regardless of anything else that is going on, it is absolutely not true to say that all men hate a straight talker.  A small majority prefer it, unless it involves faintly embarrassing social situations, like explaining their existing girlfriend.
What is annoying is the time they expect you to spend waiting to find out whilst they struggle with the new concept.  Women just don’t have the time to waste.
The situation I have now, which is perfect for me, and advantageous for Wolfe, since it comprises of a form of ‘showmance’ which does not need to actually go anywhere, generating some entertainment in the course of producing permanent work, is partially as a result of my not wanting what Wolfe traditionally goes for.
He is probably aware of this, but confused about my methodology and the time I am spending on it.  This does not matter, since I have no intention of doing any actual chasing in person.  If he makes up his mind that he believes me to be superior to an entire harem of willing supplicants, that is his decision.  (Probably a stupid decision, but clearly I do not think so.) I am certainly not planning on doing any begging, demanding or requesting. Real people are a different kettle of fish to passing ships in the sea, and there is a necessary requirement for tolerance, understanding and fluctuations in emotional state.  That is Ina’s entire raison d’etre.
I have experienced men with hang-ups about being objectified in the past.  This is laughable, since if asked they will always say they love being objectified.  Many, if they actually experience it, are so shocked that they assume that there is something wrong with you doing exactly what they do on a daily basis.  Eye them up, attract their attention, ask.  What is so freakish about that? If we all broke the rules, rather than manipulating some unwitting dude into doing the asking just to follow a rule we never agreed to, then the problem would not exist.
So, I was less than impressed by this person’s idea of ‘the rules.’  There aren’t any, end of story.  If you agree to be a little woman, expect to be treated like one.  It may be fun in the sack, now and again, but I can assure you that men run out of imagination a long time before you do.  Better to be a wild and dangerous filly, than a placid mare.
So, next time you see some quiet lonely man, especially the ones your friends laugh at your looking at, try being a bit more assertive.  Winkle out the information you require to make the move.  You might win, you might not, but it is better than agreeing to a social contract that you did not participate in constructing.
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Blog readers note

Reading on a screen before bed might be killing you
Reading on a laptop or tablet can alter the way you think
Too much screen time damages the brain
Five things too much screen time does to your body
Before you start panicking and switching off your device, most of what is said in these articles refers to things we already knew – too much sitting about is bad for you, too much light from non ambient sources is bad for you, being too intensely interested in what you are doing is bad for sleeping, electrical devices near you damage your sleep, etc etc.  I am personally quite careful to keep things like sewing, gardening, driving, decorating quite far away from any functional computers so my time is divided between separate areas of the house.
This takes up quite a lot of room, and I am fortunate to be able to do this.  It will not always be the case, when my mother is not around any more I imagine that I will be struggling to pick up my long lost career, never mind afford somewhere that I can actually fit into.
A female friend from school, who coincidentally looked a bit like Daniel Vitalis’ identical twin, worked on a study with Stirling University in the 1990s, which was based on the premise that rural people are more affected by the full moon than city people.  Eventually the study narrowed down the reason for this to be the amount of electricity used in cities.  The brain tunes in with the electrical rhythm of the moon, other people or with the fridge, computer or other electrical device if they are in the same room, which is why people like me prefer to create at nighttime, when most people in the area have switched everything off.
Many artists and writers have noticed that they work much better at night.  I am not sure what implications that tapping away on a laptop might have for your writing, as opposed to avoiding devices, but even if we were not using computers, we would still be battling the light bulb.  Perhaps further studies on this are necessary.  In any case, when I told a few people about this, they were relieved to discover that they were not imagining it.  Stirling University has apparently not posted the study as it was conducted prior to the internet revolution, but I for one would be delighted if they would, since it makes some sense of a rather ‘woo’ sounding theory.
The physical implications of spending time in a chair are obvious, you will get a fat ass and a fat tummy if you do this too much.  The wrist and hand problems are another thing entirely, and you should be extremely mindful of making sure your ergonomics are better than mine (I am usually lying in bed covered in militant cats, which is no better for you.)
As I have previously mentioned, it is wise to leave your gadgets at home now and again, and if possible get away from your computer entirely once in a while.  It really does not matter if you do not see who has tweeted you for a week or more.  It does not matter how many likes you have on facebook, and it actually makes no difference to my figures whether I have a facebook following or not.  My book readers, in particular, tend to come from elsewhere.
If you are concerned about your abstract thinking, here are a few tests you can run
Free Aptitude Tests
Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests
Abstract reasoning test
If you are concerned about your emotional well being
Happiness test
Empathy test
Positive psychology test
And I am sure you can find some more by yourselves.  I find I self-regulate, on intellectual and creative as well as whether I am spending too much time with my computer.  I do not like to combine my care of mother with computer use, so again those things happen in separate rooms where possible. If I have been writing for a few weeks, I crave sewing, and vice versa, so despite my having been heavily involved with computers for nearly twenty years, apart from a couple of binge periods when life was not otherwise worth living, I have had pretty moderate exposure.  I do feel sorry for the younger generations who do not remember life without them.  As with the curse of the mobile phone, I am sure they feel naked without their connection, when the truth is that you are a lot more naked with it.

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Die if ya do

Die if ya do



Don’t wanna do nothin’ new,


Wanna sit here and take an antacid


Keep your evil salad,


Wanna eat cake and feel a bit flaccid,


Don’t challenge my opinions, or ask me to do anythiiiiiiing!


‘Cos if you tip up my boat, I’ll just not bother to swiiiiiim


Yeah! Leave me to rot, I just cannot change my world view!


No, no, no, no, no




I hate everyone, and nobody’s gonna get throuuuuuugh






‘Cos I’ll die if ya do, die if ya do, if the stroke don’t get me


I’ll have a heart attack on you


Die in your kitchen, die in your car,


You think you’re goin’ somewhere but you will not get far


Burst a blood vessel all over the seats,


To carry me out, you’ll have to stain all your sheets.


Leave me alone, or you’ll be sorry as hellllllllllllll




Don’t wanna learn nothin’


Wanna sit here watchin’ Hitler instead,


I hate richer people, and I hate poor sick people in bed,


You can keep all your herbs, and your superfood too,


Nothin’s gonna help me, or my sore, sore head


Gonna wear my dark glasses, and sit here in pain,


Anything you’re gonna try, you’re gonna try it in vain,




There’s nothin’ you can do, so you might as well eat some cake toooooo




‘Cos I’ll die if ya do, die if ya do.  Diabetes ain’t got me, but it’s gonna get you


Die in your bathroom, die in your hall


Nothing you can do to help me at all


I’ll sit here in my armchair, watching Nazi vids


Hating everybody, soon you’ll be on the skids


Laughing at misfortune, smiling full of hate


Nothing you can say is gonna clean up my plate


Give me more cake, or I’ll trip you up on the stairs,




Then I’ll laugh my head off, burst an arteryyyyy,


Bleed over the antiques and hid my head on a shelllllf




There’s nothin’ you can do, you broke your ankle when I tripped you upppppp,




No, no, no




Cos’ I’ll die if ya do, die if ya do,


Bleed everywhere forever, make a mess outta you,


You’ll feel like you’ve been cruel, feel like you’ve been bad


Nothing’s gonna help you feel any less sad,


Skull fragments in the garage, in the studio,


Dead body in the garden maybe on the patio,


Blood in the pink roses, in the pussy willow


You’ll need a full squad just to move me real slow




Ya know, it’s much easierrrr


If ya just give me the caaaaaaaake,




Yeah, yeah,




Even though I’ll die if ya do, die if ya do,


Give me all the cake, else I’ll complain about you


Black forest gateau, strawberry cheesecake.


You can keep your evil veggies and the spooky fruit too,


Take the herbs and grass away


Take the raw chocolate too,


Give me all the cake or I’ll complain about you.


Deep fried potato, a gallon of milk


The pains in my stomach are something else too,


Don’t force me to live, don’t ask me to think


I’ll just throw up my fries in your nice new clean sink.


I’ll pretend I’m not tired, pretend I’m not sick,


No I don’t want no smoothie it looks way too thick.




Don’t force me to do anythiiiiiing……




Cos’ I’ll die if ya do, die if ya do,


Collapse in the lounge, or in your nice tidy loo,


Rigor Mortis in your doorway, stiff limbs on your floor


Put your pedal to the metal getting right out the door.


Give me all the cake, and all the fries too,


Oily mayonnaise, salty sausage and ham


I’ll eat what I want, and it’s better if you eat the cake toooooooo


Don’t challenge my opinions, or you know what I’ll do to youuuuuu




Yeah, yeah, yeah




Die if ya do, die if ya do


Won’t pay attention to your views, won’t listen to you,


I just wanna moan, wanna complain too


Wanna eat some more cake, and take some painkillers too


Blood quality’s for sissies, and for dumb hippies too,


Wanna complain until midnight and then after that too.


Give me back my Hitler, my antacid world view,


Life is too short, and I don’t want a mess,


Don’t challenge my opinions or make me wear a dress,


Fetch me my slippers, and some more kaolin,


My plan is to expire over your violin.


You’ll be tidying up my fluids


Mopping up my blood,


But at least I’ll have eaten some more of that food.


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Accept that you are alive

Accept that you are alive

When I was 32, and finishing up at university, my best friend was 89 years old.  She was a naughty, vital, very intelligent old lady whose doctor still tried to tell me was ditzy after she died, although if you had been on the receiving end of as many phone calls at 1am as I was, you would have known, as I did, that she was entirely lucid.


She had a twisted, sick and extremely sharp sense of humour, and used to like telling care providers that she planned to end her life with a sharp knife in the shower.  She used to do this out of boredom, as towards the end she was bored with humans, bored with manners and bored with social convention.


Sometimes accepting that you are alive is a lot harder than accepting that you are dying, hence my previous post.


My mother, in particular, has benefitted enormously from my friendship with Elizabeth.  My annoying Tory neighbour might have benefitted (agggh, how do I get rid of an American spellchecker?) also, but he too is choosing death over life.


What do I mean by accepting that you are alive?  As long as you are alive, there is always more to learn, more to experience and more to do.  One of my more annoying exs once asked me what scared me the most.  I replied that having nothing to do was the most frightening thing in the world, but since this is coming from someone who wrote a book at the age of ten because I was confined to bed for ten months, you can see that I am pretty flexible about finding things to do.  His reply was having nowhere to go.  This is less flexible, and although this particular ex was younger than me, he is now a snobbish, inflexible old man who cannot form relationships effectively.


The Candy Crush Saga fans are avoiding being alive.  If you claim that you are addicted to facebook, you are avoiding being alive by looking at other people, and probably falling short.  If you like celebrity culture, your avoidance of being alive involves investing heavily in information about other people.  Celebrity culture, in a political economy, is immensely important, because it keeps you unhappy, unsatisfied and it keeps you shopping and voting a certain way.  Breaking out of this paradigm is going to become harder and harder the more entrenched you allow yourself and your children to become, especially now that the internet, via ever developing gadgets, follows us everywhere.


So, today’s thought for today is to rid yourself of influence.  Stop caring what other people are doing.  Look inwards and find yourself.  Accept that you are alive, and rid yourself of distractions.  Life is short, on one hand, but it is also long and very boring, especially towards the end.  The only solution is to find something that you can do sitting down, that absorbs you and removes you from the limited world of other humans.  People get boring, once you are in your dotage.  The trick to longevity, therefore, involves ensuring that you have something less worldly to interest you, alongside your comparatively superficial connections to others to keep your visitor and contact count up.


As I have said before, to avoid the stiffness and inflexibility that goes with age, it is important to keep learning, to keep growing, and to keep finding new things to widen your outlook.  I have now lost count of the number of middle aged exs that come here and talk about immigration and their fears based upon social change.  Social change is something that is out of your control, unless you plan to start a civil war.  We have to exert pressure to apply the rules fairly, rather than take recourse in barbaric and negative approaches to change.  I do not speak from the standpoint of a multiculturalist, I speak from the standpoint of someone from a country which has developed from centuries of infiltration.


Once you have accepted that you are alive, things like making a fool of yourself are meaningless, since you will seek to attain your goals at the pace you set.  You will lose your willingness to conform to other’s ideas of you, and you will truly master the art of making your own path.  One step closer to true freedom.


So, before you too get suckered into a resentful state of incapacitated rage at the things you cannot control, think about yourself.  Have you accepted that you are alive, and that there is a finite amount of time to complete the tasks you have set yourself?  Have you even managed to set them?  If the answer is no, get on with it, because time is always shorter than you think, and you have to do it before you get bored, because once you are bored, you are accepting your death.

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Stranger in a hat Disease

I come from a country which suffers from this to a ridiculous degree, as a way of preventing people from developing any pride or ‘giving themselves airs’.  It is a form of low self esteem which is particularly prevalent with people who wish to avoid responsibility. I cannot tell you how stultifying it is when it is a national characteristic.

Another form of it is small person’s disease.  I don’t mean that the suffers are small in stature, they are small in outlook.  Some people don’t get it until they get older, some people always suffered from it.

Stranger in a hat disease

In this form, the sufferer refuses to listen to any new information unless it is conveyed via a television set, or physically attractive stranger in the case of many men.  Any information imparted from people that they know is instantly refuted, making it pretty much impossible to converse at all, in some cases, since they will argue with anything you say.  Elderly people get suckered into this one, even when all the evidence points to you knowing exactly what you are talking about.  ie.  You have a postgraduate degree in the subject, versus a minor celebrity mentioning it on TV.

There is no known cure.  You are doomed to being disrespected as a seven year old child for the rest of your life with a sufferer of this problem.

eg.  “No, of course it isn’t autumn, it is spring.”

“Would you like me to find a stranger in a hat to tell you what month it is?”

Small person’s disease

This is the one all motivational speakers seek to cure, in a myriad of expensive and time consuming ways.  This is the assumption that anyone in a public arena or position of any power whatsoever is different from you, special, untouchable and morally superior.  Even if the celebrity in question has committed a murder, they are still deserving of a mysterious form of worship that makes anything they do of considerably more importance than actually doing anything yourself. This one is more dangerous, since the sufferer abdicates all responsibility for their progress and self worth, in favour of accepting a perceptive state where everyone is luckier/better/more important than they are, and end up playing hours and hours of Candy Crush Saga, Farmville etc., whilst seeking validation from a group of similar peers.  If challenged, they become fearful and retreat into these futile pursuits, effectively becoming a form of zombie. The idea of actually challenging anyone with any status at all is effectively rendered to mean the challenger is in a state of insanity.  This is what befell most of my friends after the Wolfe saga started, since I can see no reason why I am not just as important/talented/capable/worthy of being loved as someone on the grounds of a few hundred youtube videos.  Many would say considerably more so, despite my aversion to fame.

This is the kind of problem that causes civilisations to crumble unnoticed, since nobody accepts their ability to actually do anything, no matter how small.

This is the reasoning behind the Better Person Project.  If everybody spent ten minutes a day inputting information from wherever they were, it would be considerably easier for people looking for more worthwhile ways to spend their time to actually find those things.  As I have said, until the artwork moves, I am unable to redesign the site, so it is a bit clunky at the moment, but perfectly usable.

It applies just as readily to your daily life.  What exactly stops you from taking your ten minute walk, reading for an hour a day in a subject of interest, perhaps doing a few blogged reviews etc?  As someone who does not get out because of my caring, I recommend you do so, just in case you are unlucky enough to end up in the same miserable position I am in.  Failing that, you can easily change the world if you stop telling yourself you cannot.  Such is the nature of the world.  If you do nothing, you only have yourselves to blame and all those excuses will look very silly indeed.

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Beware of Positive People

Today I have an example of why I have a problem with all those memes that suggest that Team America are to hang together, cheer everything on each other’s behalf and AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE.  I have several cliquey groups of low denomination authors who regularly validate each other on every topic from contempt for the poor to ‘authors must write in only one genre.’  I kid you not, the culture of self-congratulation stifles creativity to such an extent that they actually try to tell you what to write to be in with the cool kids.

There is nothing wrong with writing rotten romances, or hackneyed mysteries over and over again, provided you can find an audience, or find a catchy way of engaging your audience.  Two self-published authors that I know of became millionaires simply by adding their email address to their work and requesting that their readers email them when they found any errors.  They simply ploughed the time they should have spent editing into relevant forums, investing in marketing and generally getting their name out.  Personally, I would not recommend this, since at least one science fiction author I know writes books that are effectively unreadable, and then entreats a massive number of other authors to become beta readers, ignoring any attempts at editing and repeatedly requesting positive reviews. (I am afraid that after only one attempt at beta reading, when I discovered that my editing notes were longer than her text, I had to leave this exclusive gang.)

The problem with positivity, or even your closest friend absent-mindedly saying yes to everything and avoiding giving an opinion for fear that you will not like them any more, is that one day, they will let the mask slip and your poor fragile ego, which you have been relying on to get the job done, will temporarily shatter and it is not until you find some way of assuaging your angst that you can get writing again.  This is kind of what happened with the original academic essays I was attempting to talk to Wolfe about.  As it happens, it is probably just as well, since my reconnected synapses are having a lot more fun than they used to, but losing your sense of self, and in my case, my maudlin and cynical seriousness, could be pretty damaging, depending on what you are trying to do.

It is also not a good idea, unless you are in an actual team situation, to go shattering egos on a frequent basis, since the ego you are shattering may be the one that ultimately makes yours fly higher. As a creative chef, I was quite keen on the whole ‘leave your ego at home and rely on mine’ scenario, but now that I am in a situation where I work alone, I am becoming quite phobic about any interruption to the flow at all.  It is simply easier to just avoid people altogether.  The loneliness means that I get more work done, and can employ a lot more stamina since there is no deadline.

The most recent attempted attack by a writer was on the grounds of my work being free, which is hysterical.  Asking a modern author in a market where 400k books are being published every year, to charge for their early work is a bit like telling a singer to make sure everyone knows they can sing, but not to actually prove it unless they have a thousand bucks in their hot little hand.  It just won’t work.  You can choose to pay for marketing, or you can choose to network with yet more people, but the actual problem with an unknown is the number of clicks you are asking the customer to make to get your product.  In my case, the nature of the project being extremely personal, (I really write for an audience of one, in the case of the Best Ever series) I do not feel I would want to charge. Besides which, my stories lead people back to look at my artwork. Interestingly, the artists that I have shared the project with love the idea. The only people who seem to have a problem with it are the very same low denomination authors that club together in miserable cliques, reviewing each other’s work and wondering why the numbers are not improving.

So, I am, ironically, developing a bit of a temperament, in the course of escaping the results of a family-induced state of utter misery.  Most of the time I am happier than I was before, but my temper is probably worse, since I cannot tolerate rocks in the river, so to speak.  I am not entirely happy with this, but perhaps with time I will be less fragile and my love of growth through dissent will return.  In other words, the old adage of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’  which has been something of a central theme in the past, will perhaps be reduced to the size of a mere tributary.

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The British Class System is unemployed

As someeone who studied eleven centuries of international economic history in the course of my reading, I am a bit of a fan of feudalism.  Feudalism is under-rated.  On a good day, feudalism works a lot better than capitalism.

Contentious, qui moi?

It may surprise you to learn that after the Black Death, when many villages and feudal settlements were empty as a result of the deaths of the occupants, the contents of the cottages revealed, in many places, a far higher standard of living than expected.

Ask an unemployed urban dweller now whether they would feel hard done by with their own rabbit warren, space for a cow and some hens, hand me down crystal, clothing and metalware from the ‘big house’, a four day working week for the local lord, followed by a day for the church to cover education and medical treatment for the family, their wives doing cottage-based piece work for the travelling merchants, and they will admit that our marvellous capitalist system is not treating them particularly well compared with medieval peasants.  Capitalism and socialism are mutually dependent.  If you believe otherwise, you are being conned.

The difference with feudalism and the reason that it could not be sustained, was that it was based on the availability of land, which is why the British strove so hard to acquire quite so much of it.  The British class system, complete with privilege, horse skills, hunting etc was set up for exploration, not industrialisation.  Given a chunk of uncharted territory, your average toff was able to feed his workers, organise them to build shelter, reroute rivers and eventually plan out a wider agricultural and transport strategy thanks to their having been given land to manage over several generations, something I touched on in Best Scandal Ever.

Now, of course, there are far too many people for us to benefit from a feudal system with a local landowner to blame if things go wrong.  In the event that the reformation had not happened as a result of urbanisation, the catholic peasantry would have been starved and tithed out of this formerly comfortable life. The British class system, which worked so well for the Georgian and Victorian explorers and their military-imperialist tendencies, has now been reduced to a small number of corrupt individuals who, rather than believing in duty, the preservation of land, and the glory of the nation, now believe in reducing those who do not benefit from capitalism to criminal behaviour in order to survive.  Instead of national pride, we have a system which supports contempt for the poor and disabled, offering benefits to cronies in the fields of banking, weapons manufacture, construction and of course, the politicians who ensure that their instructions are carried out.

What happened then, to the idea of ‘things being better when gentlemen were in charge,’ a cry uttered by my neighbour within my lifetime.  When the gentlemen were in charge of my city, they dutifully gifted their estates on death to become parks.  Can anyone imagine George Osborne gifting his wealth to anyone? I have met some of the older members of David Cameron’s family, and whilst they would not gift their wealth, they certainly donated quite a proportion of their property for the benefit of the military during World War 2 and had a sense of humility whilst doing it.  I cannot imagine the same can be said for the Head Prefect, who spends his time whining to his local council whilst recommending that the rest of us get fracked.

So why retain faith in the Great British machine, when the Great British machine no longer works?  Clearly the answer is to remove cronies, whether they be Tories, sustaining each other’s family businesses by promoting war, forgiving banker’s errors, indulging in not-so-secret talks with corporate lobbyists before promoting policies that serve only themselves?  In the meantime, they feign caring by retaining some of the worst Labour policies.  Labour, as a party, is all but dead, they wait to be told what to think.  Consensus, as I have always said, is not a healthy or progressive state of affairs for any party, nor is attempting to centralise a country that cannot, and should not, be centralised, particularly not for the benefit of London, at the expense of the entire UK.

Honesty, in addition to duty, have gone out of fashion, unfortunately at a time when we are more aware than ever before exactly how many lies, and how many mistakes, we are at the mercy of.  Is it not time that we took some initiative to get our country back on track?  We used to be great, not a puppet sideshow, whispering in the ear of the USA to scrape a few arms sales to line the pockets of a few more fat cats, smoking in the private member’s club right next to your politicians.

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Motivation and Privilege

Motivation and Privilege

Was discussing the election of the London Mayor with Twisty.  Personally, I think London elected the best of a bad bunch, despite Sadiq Khan’s lack of popularity with Scottish Asians.  (he came up here and lied to them at the time of the referendum) Time will tell how well he does, but there is no reason to suspect that his allegedly questionable contacts will interfere with his job.  Zac Goldsmith, whilst very high profile, does not appear to really understand, or for that matter need to understand, the nature of the job, having conducted a campaign based on the fact that he is not Muslim, but is pansexual.


Who cares if he is pansexual?  He seems to, but I am not sure anybody else does.  I wondered why he always seems so terribly young, given that he is not much younger than me?  Twisty asserts that this is because he has never had to work for anything, has effortlessly become a high profile Conservative, and with £400 million, does not really need to work at all.  At this point I started to mentally question this hypothesis. Parental achievement can be demotivating, since you are unlikely to top the heroic feats of your forbears. At least instead of destroying businesses like his father, Zac has chosen to serve people, albeit as a Conservative MP.


Stella McCartney did not have to be a particularly good designer to get backing.  This is true.  She would always have had a great deal of support due to her contacts and surname.  Lulu Guinness the handbag maker also had a very easy time.  I recall an article about her stylishness before her first handbag was even on sale.  Now she presents a ‘cheap’ product at £300 on Kelly Hoppen’s shopping channel, and it actually sells.  According to Twisty, I should feel resentful of this, that people with moderate talent have an easy route to fame and a living via their name and wealthy family.


The flip side of this is that Zac, Stella, and Lulu would find it extremely difficult to get a job in Gregg’s the bakery, should they ever require it, as it would be assumed that they would find taking orders, fulfilling people’s lunch requirements, and cleaning up after themselves extremely menial.  I can tell you this, because as an apparently ‘middle class’ Glaswegian graduate (with a bog standard school education, rather than private education social network like my comparatively mediocre brother)  I was turned down for hundreds of jobs I would have not only have been able to do well, but would have worked extremely hard at, as is my usual wont.  At least with their names, these people have a decent opportunity to shine, or bomb, in front of the entire population, instead of a low key continuous failure to be acknowledged as with my own experience.


In 2008 or so, my friend in London spoke in hushed terms of how the middle classes were suffering in London from a similar malaise.  Graduates were not getting jobs, based upon the lack of availability, and were expected to feel shame at their own failure, rather than coming out in public and asking where the knowledge economy actually is?  The over-supply of graduates has been going on for some time.  It is not only a class issue, but an issue of an economy which is sustaining itself via putting people in a state of debt misery for life. Then you see the SNP being attacked for not producing more working class graduates.  Those working class non-graduates are probably earning more than you, is the real reason. Glasgow has the most highly qualified bar staff in Europe.


So when the issue of motivation and privilege came up yet again, as it frequently does with Twisty, who has had an unfortunate life for reasons other than opportunity, as he has enjoyed far more opportunity than I have, I felt rather put out, on behalf of people who are either fortunate by birth, or fortunate by actually being given a chance. It is not always safe to assume that the fortunate few are incapable of learning how to fill an unexpected niche, and they are not always as clueless as you might assume.


One of the most offensive experiences I ever had was at an interview with a married and well kept company director, who asked me whether ‘I paddled my own canoe.’  I was not only paddling my own canoe at the time, despite people like her not giving me a chance for employment, I was also paddling my parents’ canoe, and maintaining my scum siblings undeserved inheritance as I am still doing.  You get tired of paying for everyone else’s bullshit, whether financially or by sheer hard labour with no chance for a life of your own. This does not mean you target people with a better life deal than you, however, with mean spirited joy in their problems.


There are thousands, if not millions of people of all social classes who have no understanding of how fortunate they are.  Fortunate to have the opportunity to work, to have families, to go out when they want to, to sit and watch TV instead of bothering to improve themselves.  They tend to say things like ‘you make your own luck’ and ‘pull your socks up.’ Similar to Twisty, they feel quite free to object to people more fortunate than themselves. I trust they will not be requiring any help for reasons of sickness or circumstance any time soon, because frankly they do not deserve any.






For regular readers – 50 is the magic base number for youtube now, you get about the same number of random hits on 50 videos from an unknown that you used to get on 1.  Just so you know to divide your work into small chunks rather than relying on one under-tagged video. Obviously, Ina is at a disadvantage since she has no face, and in the event anyone ever wishes to meet her, I guess I will have to invest in an actual disguise. I will post the link to relevant playlists once they are all up and sorted into manageable chunks. I am planning to do some sketch writing at some point, so the channel will develop as the project wears on.


I am about halfway with the  blog transfer to youtube.  Most, but not all of the videos are going up, I do not see any reason to repeat some of the more impulsive entries, and as with the free books of posts I put out earlier in the year, I will be classifying them according to topic, as I seem to have settled into a number of themes. It has certainly been an enlightening year or so of finding out what my weaknesses are.

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The Art of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion

I have always felt that the art of persuasion was a bit out of my remit.  It comes into the same category as vanity, something to feel guilty about, something to be avoided.  Hence I have operated on a more frictional basis throughout my life.  Although, as my continuing affection for Wolfe demonstrates, I am partial to a bit of elegant persuasion, it is not something I have ever found a use for.  I prefer to be brutally honest and present a rational argument for whatever I want you to do.


Clearly however, the situation in my own country presents a new range of problems.  We now have an opportunity for change, in the form of a political situation pitching a pro-Scottish, pro independence party against the Liberal Democrats, who are largely irrelevant unless you happen to live in a comfortable rural community, and the Tories, who will continue in much the same way that Labour have continued, regardless of what the unimportant Scottish population think.


Some Scots are a bit slow on the uptake.  I myself intended to be a no voter, on the basis of the proportion of sick and unemployed people I dealt with in the course of my work, until I rethought the prospect of independence in terms of national morale, faith in the work ethic of my unemployed warrior nation, and the prospect of rebuilding the economic structure in a way that would make at least part of the UK function better.  There now seems to me to be nothing to be gained from remaining part of the UK.  Labour have opted out of their future in Scotland, even diehard labourites have seen through them, and the Tories (conservatives) have made Scotland’s less than important position abundantly clear. (and we all know how honest they are.)


Let us be quite clear on this.  45% was a very good result in the referendum.  It makes it obvious that independence is an important issue for the Scottish population.  It does not represent a football score, and it does not represent the permanent views of a population that has been repeatedly told that it is a ‘burden’ and ‘unimportant’ to the economy of the UK.  On the contrary, the conning, beseeching and lying that went on at the referendum tells you just how important Scotland is.  They cannot function effectively without us.


Those desperately trying to justify voting for the union are wary.  They believe that they will be somehow compromised by living in a country where other people have new opportunities.  They believe that a changed administrative system will damage their safe economic position, and they believe what they have been told – that Scotland is a puny plant, supported only by a few hedge fund managers in London, and their own taxes.


It is impossible to take seriously the views of Jill Stephenson, Neil Oliver, or Muriel Gray, all of whom have had a safe and tidy life thanks to their support of the UK establishment.  Muriel can bag as many Monroes as she likes, it does not make her any less self-serving.  However, the people voting no, who were brought up to believe that as long as they looked nice, supported the powerful, and climbed up the career ladder whilst minding their own money, believe that these people represent something.  They choose to believe this, because it saves them from actually thinking.  Thinking is hard.


My Tory neighbour is a case in point.  One of the last of the old school, Church of Scotland, Monarchist, military believers in Conservative British pride and empire, his real reason for his staunch refusal to think about independence is that he is an accountant, and does not want to learn a new system of paperwork.  When converting a no voter, it is wise to bear this example in mind.  They do not want to think, they do not like change, and their reasoning for their dismissal of you is that they think they own more than you do, or that they simply have no imagination to consider the opportunities that minding our own business would bring.


Most of us in the SNP are well aware how many rumours have circulated, about people not getting their pensions, about the SNP being everything from Nazis to Communists, about people being threatened with deportation courtesy of Labour.  Whoever pulls the strings in Labour does not believe that Scottish people are terribly bright.  The Conservatives are not much better, and the large landowners are terrified that collectivization will be announced as soon as we achieve independence.  I think we can all agree that we appreciate our land being kept wild, funded by private money, whatever our class delusions, and that Stalin was not a stand up guy.


Voting for the Fracking Party whilst Alberta burns due to oil sand fires is not terribly bright, so bear in mind that no matter how rich your Tory, no-voting friends are, they are not keeping up with current affairs, and they are likely to be rendered thoughtless by their easy wealth, and easy journey through the career or business world.  The fact that other people have less than them is a source of fear and pride.  Fear because the people that do not prioritize money are beyond their understanding and might take something from them, pride because they took something and you cannot have it.  You are not dealing with thoughtful people, so you have to gently approach the subject slowly.


Emotive wrangling about who they vote for, therefore, is not something you should consider in the course of your introduction to the world of actual thought.  They are likely to have been trained out of this in their Machiavellian journey through life.  Open their minds to the possibilities, and simply walk away.  Scotia, like Rome, was not built in a day.


Present the picture of Glenrothes with factories, Rothesay with a tourism industry, Kilmarnock with a carpet industry, etc etc. Tell them to picture the poor with gainful employment and spending money.  Point out just how much our country has been ravished and sent into decline.  Remind them of the hundreds of enterprising Scots who still exist, and could flourish once again, given the opportunity.  Do not discuss oil, romantic visions, and whatever else you do, do not mention that someone other than them might make more money than they do.  That is what scares them more than anything.

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Revolution is in the blood

Twisty, for the second or third time since I have known him, carefully enunciated the words ‘Poor People’ at me, as if I could not possibly know what this means.


Considering the last twenty years, let alone the ones before that, I have no idea why my friends continue to maintain this assumption of my privilege.  Privilege in Glasgow means that you do not get the help everyone else is entitled to, because someone was stupid enough to work and earn money, that you do not get jobs you are well qualified for, on the grounds that someone else would benefit more from them than you would, and even if you do manage to scrape your way into something just to pay your way, the people working with you make all sorts of assumptions about you based on your ‘posh accent.’ You get tired of explaining yourself, so you end up assuming that most people are going to be assholes no matter what you say to them.  They are very welcome to the imaginary chip on their usually better paid shoulders.


My American, and some of my English readers, on hearing my voice, may not necessarily pick up on my ‘posh accent.’  The accent was acquired via a mother who, having been brought up by an enterprising widow, was determined that her little angels would start in life with a carefully maintained avoidance of the guttural notes that Glasgow is famous for. I also travelled for ten years, so a mangling of regional accents contributed to the current voice. More discerning listeners tend to pick up on these, but most of the time, it is better to just avoid people and their stupid assumptions altogether.


My father liked to circulate conflicting stories about his family.  It was not until tonight that I found out that he had not even told my mother much about them.   When my father fell in love with and bought this house, most of his family told him not to bother them again.  It was just not part of the communist pose or very serious religious ethic to go falling in love with beautiful houses.


I took a look online tonight to see if anything had been added about my famous great grandfather.  As luck would have it, not only was I able to rule out one of the stories dad liked to laughingly tell us, I was able to ascertain why my mother was ‘kept away from the rest of the family.’  My father, a quiet conscientious objector who defended himself in court and spent WW2 working for the forestry commission and taking care of the single women left over from WW1 in his family, was the grandson of Glasgow’s last great revolutionary.


No wonder his family were so embarrassed when dad fell in love with a house, and a woman who was not only Tory, but determined to pop out as many babies as possible.  He was rebelling against a bunch of revolutionaries.  I am now less surprised that he felt the best course of action was just to keep his mouth shut and work like fury.  How embarrassing to be the black sheep of a rather famous politically radical family.  I am more proud of him than ever.


One thing my father gave me, was a healthy disrespect of authority and from an early age I was very much aware, despite his quiet attitude, that everything was to be questioned, and nothing was as it seemed.  My mother and him happily argued for decades, whilst maintaining a shell that protected them from the children from hell that they brought into the world.  They were fortunate to have a house large enough for most problems to simply disappear into another room until it was safely quiet again.


Having spent most of my life shocking people that have known me for years if I bother to explain who my family is, little knowing that even my mother did not know, I have a better attitude than Twisty when people set out to wind me up with their ill conceived nonsense.  I am getting less tolerant of people however, which concerns me.  Lack of tolerance and patience is a sign of aging.  The sooner I get the next project underway the better.


Twisty’s comment on my Conservative blog posts was that I sounded like ‘Thatcher with a dash of Bolshevik.’  That makes perfect genetic, never mind ideological sense.


There is no excuse for putting a cross on a voting slip next to a party which has functioned like a death cult.  Politics is for the service of the people, not for turning a blind eye to the purging of the disabled.  The Conservative administration should be on trial, not sitting in government.  If you agree to what they have done, you are no better than they are.


Please frack Edinburgh Central first, Ruth. I look forward to seeing tanks in Haymarket.

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