Savouring delights and horrors
In recent times, I have been indulging in the happiness-inducing activity of compiling a random list of things that especially irritate me. Grumpy old woman that I am, I want to vent about these delights /horrors here in blog land. To some, this blog episode, in itself, may well be very annoying, having a certain strident, soapbox flavour. Fair enough. Yet, everyone probably has her or his own list that they may feel compelled to shout from the rooftops occasionally.
Hopefully, I will strike some chords with several like-minded people along the way. Alternatively, I will certainly get up the noses of others on some issues. For light relief, I do end the episode with a short celebration of a few of life’s pleasures, at least as I see them.
The ‘annoyances’ list is not in any particular order from least upsetting to the most upsetting, or vice versa.
Aside: One annoyance for you, dear reader – the pictures this time are only in the happier zone below. The difficult stuff is harder to illustrate, although I wish I could. Maybe if all the points were joined together visually and aurally, they would make an unusual documentary film…
1. I want to start with an English usage irritation first. Of course, there are a multitude of headaches in this zone, and many books and blogs have been written on the subject. Nonetheless, I am particularly distressed and even, dare I say, disgusted, by how few people are able to distinguish between ‘bought’ and ‘brought’ anymore. Illiteracy is sadly on the rise from all angles. Even quite competent journalists trip up here. Therefore, I probably have lost this battle, but I refuse to retreat. For instance: ‘He bought the suitcase over and displayed it to the media.’ Shudder. He didn’t buy it, he was bringing it there. Bought/brought. I rest my case.
2. On a more visual level, I cringe when I witness someone drinking directly out of large milk bottles, juice bottles etc from the fridge, then putting the unfinished bottle back for the unsuspecting next user, as if the perpetrator is innocently sharing these beverages. Pour it into a glass! This practice gives me a shiver down my spine. To me, this is selfish and inconsiderate, as well as unhygienic. When this bottom-feeder cultural practice is portrayed in films and on tv, usually self-centred men or abominable teens are the perpetrators. I hear this is also quite common in some households. When I mentioned this abhorrence recently, a friend shook her head and said slowly, ‘You can never stop a bloke doing that’.
3. Another quite maddening, homespun practice that is often shown in the screen media is the following: the long-haired heroine has an evening shower, then she goes to bed with dripping wet hair. Why does she not use the drier prior to settling down for the night? As my mother would say, this is a sure way to get a chill – dear Mum was always worrying about us in relation to catching chills. Recently in the ABC TV series The Beautiful Lie, the heroine performs this ritual very late at night, after having consorted wildly with her lover. The wet hair in this case symbolises infidelity, as she crawls into bed beside her betrayed husband. Enough said.
4. Picnics and camping are outdoor pursuits holding little appeal for me. I don’t mind enduring an occasional companionable picnic, if there is a pleasant view, if the company is tolerable, if it is held in a shady spot, if there are no biting insects around, if I don’t have to sit directly on the ground, if the food is tasty, and if there is a strategic escape route readily available. That statement contains several big ‘ifs’.
And now to camping. In 1970, I travelled across much of Europe over several months with my partner at the time. We were young, healthy and adventurous. And we camped. Our tent was supposed to be able to resist a Force 10 gale – luckily we weren’t tested to that extent. The campsites were of variable quality, some of them grotty, as well as overcrowded and quite remote. I particularly disliked the brash, loud American college guys who would hog the showers and use all the hot water, as if this was their god-given right.
After a long time on the road, we were inevitably behind schedule. Thankfully, we had to withdraw from a Kontiki camping trip to Russia and Poland, which we had impetuously pre-booked with some friends. We were both very glad that this adventure didn’t eventuate, particularly after hearing the rather grim post-trip stories from those friends. Also, throughout Europe, we had witnessed, firsthand, the ubiquitous Kontiki expeditions, replete with drunken, gormless Australians. Cringeworthy reality checks can be very useful indeed. Camping and I parted ways long ago.
5. I don’t like certain fads. Paleo diets, quinoa, kale, rocket, those green shots in a glass…no matter how supposedly good for me, all such food fashions leave me cold. Also ‘Bondi Hipster’ posing can be galling, whether it be in relation to food and beverage fads or healthy-living fads. While I enjoy the satirical comedy, I dislike the faddishness of gentrification-on-overdrive once again. I do, however, like the trend of preparing food from farm to fork. On the other hand, I suffer the passion for ‘gluten-free’ fare by those people who aren’t genuine celiac sufferers, but who are just super trendies. And I dislike being served food on flat wooden platters. The other day I dared to ask for an alternative china plate, which I received without a patronising comment, so resistance is possible.
6. I hate clowns, sad or happy. Need I say more? I am also becoming very weary of circuses, particularly the excessively over-produced extravaganzas.
7. Mobile phone contracts give me the heebie-jeebies. I inevitably become confused and I am invariably ripped off, experiencing difficulty with the rehearsed language used in these so-called negotiations. Newspeak is rampant. I am made to feel out-of-date, incompetent and powerless. Anything to do with Telstra these days is a major downer…
8. Earnestly performed Interpretive Dance, while often a source of unintended humour, tends to give me a splitting headache.
9. Anti-intellectuals and rightwing, racist partakers of the history wars all make me fume.
10. I cannot bear all forms of fundamentalism, including happy clappies/tea-party types and ISIS. Or far-right, reactionary Catholics like Tony Abbott. Religious dogma is the scourge of the world – so many crimes and horrors have been perpetrated in the name of religion. I think our governmental institutions should be completely secular in more than name only, and one’s religious beliefs should never be allowed to influence decisions in Parliament. Hence the powers-that-be should stand up and meaningfully embrace secularism, making policies and laws that allow, for instance, equal marital and other rights for the LGBTIQ communities, and the long overdue legalising of abortions in Queensland…
12. I abhor Islamophobia and racism. Too many people think simplistically that all Muslims are bad because of the maniacs on the fringe, who often take the name of the religion in vain. It is like damning all Christians because of the rabid Ku Klux Klan. I am very ‘pro’ a humanitarian approach to all those seeking asylum here. People seeking asylum are not at all illegal, and there are no queues when you are fleeing persecution and violence. All our appalling off-shore and on-shore concentration camps should be closed immediately, and alternative, in-community processes should be enacted. I do not hold with smug, defeatist rhetoric, nor do I passively accept the tyranny of the supposed majority. These apathetic, often deeply racist views and practices can be changed. Thank heavens for heroes like Julian Burnside and many other outspoken activists against social injustices perpetrated in our name by people like Peter Dutton.
In a similar vein, the whole Adam Goodes’ saga has been painfully racist, revealing a chillingly ugly side to our culture, fuelled by such lying shock jocks as Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. I am also disturbed by the increasingly normalised use of that ghastly word assimilation. This word and the outdated, horrendous practices it evokes are definitely racism-driven, conjuring up the stark shadows of Australia’s disgraceful colonial policies and unjust, discriminatory practices inflicted on Indigenous people and migrants during the often shameful invasion history of Australia.
This is a rich, multicultural society, strengthened by diversity and inclusiveness. I try not to despair when new fringe political parties spring up, catering to blatant neo-fascism.
12. Of course, being a feminist, I find misogyny hateful in all its monstrous forms, often manifested in horrendous trolling, domestic violence, oppression and non-equal wages.
13. As far as human beings and their personality traits are concerned, I cannot bear meanness or mean-spiritedness. I also find people who continually manifest narcissistic, self-serving, non-empathetic characteristics, very upsetting and hard to deal with. I deplore mischievous treachery and arch game-playing of all kinds.
14. Petty though this might seem, I also cringe every time I hear someone say ‘haitch’ instead of ‘aitch’, when spelling aloud a word like ‘Helen”…
15. Last but not least, I dislike the Moreton Club, a snob-ridden establishment, situated very close to my dwelling place. While I like the distinguished historical building very much, I recoil from the overly well-dressed women who park their posh cars and trail regularly into this club, day and night, at times with their male partners who probably belong to the Brisbane Club, the Queensland Club or Tattersalls. This prominent show of exclusivity by monied snobs represents the power of the social class elite, along with a particular form of gender discrimination, etched here in stark relief.
As I have calculated that the youngest women I see regularly entering the building are about 50, the place won’t wither away for quite a while yet. Hopefully the progeny of this privileged elite will find the club too retro, stuffy and boring in the not-too-distant future.
A friend who had reciprocal membership there invited me to dinner one night, even though she was very concerned that I wouldn’t talk the talk or even walk the walk of the upper class. I was instructed to dress very conservatively – no slacks allowed, only dresses or skirts – and to indulge in polite, meaningless conversation, thereby not at all revealing my apparently shocking left-wing views. As I was curious to see inside and soak up the ambiance in this enemy territory, I agreed, through gritted teeth, to behave myself on their terms. Never again!
Let There be Light…
Now, surprise, surprise, I want to document a tiny, bright clustering of my delights. Enough of that darker list for now, although letting it all hang out can be uplifting and even therapeutic.
I derive pleasure and joy from many delightful people and cultural pursuits. Strong friendships and deep-seated loyalty are very important, while betrayal is anathema to me. Here is a small selection of things I like, also chosen at random, but all precious to me in different ways…
Enjoying a recent chat with the wonderful Sir David Puttnam, producer of many films including Local Hero (1983) – one of my all-time favourite films. Back in the early 80s, I was offered a job as production assistant on this film, but sadly I had to forego that privilege. Ah, the road not taken…
Another of my heroes, Paul Keating – a very recent conversation with Kerry O’Brien at the Opera House in October, 2015. (Bring back Keating…!)
And now – a Photo Montage of some friends I love and who bring me joy. Wish I could post pictures of everyone who is equally special to me. And, thankfully, I am not always an Old Grump…
Happy times everyone…