Thursday, 28 February 2013

What I didn't know about echo-location

I was on the phone to a friend a few years back.  ‘It was bespoke’ he said.  ‘Have you just learned a new word?’ I asked.  Yes he had.  There’s something about the newly learned word that it becomes a favourite, crowbarred in, or given that little extra inflection.  So my question is, where do the boundries lie for the assumptions we make about what other people do and don’t know?  When finding out about a new subject, how much can you assume the other person will know intrigues me.  Of course this is mostly because I don’t want to look like an arse.  And adding a further layer, in an industry or organization, how quickly we forget what the ‘in’ words are, that only exist in the sector, or even room that you work in…. and are utter clap-trap to everybody else.

A few times I have assumed someone didn’t know the word I just learned, only to get slammed down with an ‘I know what an advertorial/echo location/pozi-drive is’.  Alas on the other end of the spectrum there are the times you take for granted that some lingo is generally understood only to look like a pompous twat.

And it’s not just words either; it’s whole areas of knowledge.  Ok, so I often hark back to my home-education: was any of this (doubt) spawned from the fact that I wasn’t learning the same as everyone else, whilst they were – on the most part – all learning the same stuff?  That’s not in any way an excuse, just an ‘I don’t know what everyone else knows’ kind of thought.

Waaaay back in 2000, I took a boy from my Plato lectures - that I was vaguely seeing - back to meet a friend.  He was an American skater type; I must have thought that was cool, that he was cool.  He sat about spouting pub-philosophy to the wrong audience, pseudo-Socrates ‘I know what I don’t know’.  But to bastardise this further, my problem here is the opposite: I don’t know what you do know.

So to quote Voltaire: ‘If you wish to converse with me, define your terms’ and everything else please, I won’t be offended.

Do you know what I mean?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Raffle ticket kindness

So, memories are generally attached to emotions, or rather we remember things where we had heightened emotional states and by and large, the mundane slips by unnoticed; which isn't exactly a bad thing. We remember a lot of The Bad Stuff, the mean thing someone said is now a deep-seated complex and some particularly scary time as a child presents itself as a fully-grown phobia.

I say all of this because I'm as guilty as the next man of wanting to on the one hand blame present failings on past bad experience, yet on the other to display my scars as war wounds for which I deserve praise for my valour at sustaining such deep torment. You didn't have it hard like me.

The post I've been wanting to write for some time is the one that says something of the small kindness, the on that slipped by very nearly unnoticed, but you did notice. It stuck with you, maybe because it was was more than you would have thought to have done yourself, and it had a part to play in shaping you as much as all the bad shit.

Enter Catherine. The scene: school cross country, c1996.

This is my first cross country. Having previously been home-educated I didn't get to do team sports like most kids do, although what I only realise now is that at that time I was the fittest I have ever been and will ever be. But this is school sports and nobody likes school sports.

Catherine and I run round together and we are not walking so that's a pretty big effort, without actually taking it seriously. We get to the finish line, a channel of tape to funnel yourself down and be ticked off a list then given a ticket with a number from a raffle ticket book. Catherine pushes me ahead of her at the last second so I come 28th and she comes 29th.

In that tiny moment I became a considerably kinder person.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The hours that I don't sleep

Sleeping and not sleeping; sleepers and not sleepers, or are they non-sleepers? I know people who love sleeping, which seems like a strange thing to like, a semi-conscious state. Do we not mean that we love dozing, the blurry half-way in between where we get to enjoy it most? In this lucid state where we can influence dreams whilst riding on the back of slumber's heat and weight. If you realise you are dreaming, you have to try to fly, surely.

An insomniac remarked that when someone tells of a broken leg, others don't go to great lengths telling tales of how their legs work excellently, and in fact they did a 12 mile walk last week and they both stood up really well. But with sleep problems we all feel happy to gloat about how we are one of the world's sleepers.... any table, any chair... and I think I am now paying the price for smugly inheriting the sleep gene, waving my Zs in other people's faces. Put a coat over my head and I'm out like a light; any jumper for a pillow, any train carriage fold-away tray table.

Not so now the sandman has lost my address and the alphabet frequently stops at Y. Standard tactics? Hey, nobody can control those sheep. Those bloody smarmy hurdling sheep.

Monday, 20 June 2011

57 down, 143 to go

I think I mentioned in my Argentina blog the BBC Big Read books that I am working my way through. The list was compiled by a survey of the nation's favourite books in the early Naughties. Like any good list-maker, I am hugely enjoying the ticking off, rather than the reading.

I'm on 57, The Chap is on 64. I have been working my way throught this list for the past few years and yet still have still to overtake him. So.... I may cheat. Has anyone read the Tracey Beaker books? These comprise of a whopping fourteen of the total 200, only just pipped by Terry Pratchet with fifteen. Is it cheating to read these to get ahead? Maybe, but it does mean that I am joining the local library and that has to be a Good Thing.

Another book list:
When I was at university I asked everyone I knew to recommend me a book and this list I still have somewhere, it ought to be dug it out and shared. At the time I remember sending a text out to nearly everyone in my phonebook and getting a reply back from one person just saying 'Why?'


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Elevated Reflections

Today was the day that the dog did get stuck in the lift.  He (enter: dog) is a 10 week old Viszla puppy with serious separation anxiety, so this accidental elevator-imprisonment was really not to his disorder any good.  The outing was intended to be a trip to the vet for his second lot of jabs, at present he is still too little to go out and about in case he picks up canine 'flu or whatever super-bug pooches are prone to at such a tender age.

Now this little laddie happens to done as his feline friends tend to, and that is land on his feet: removed from his native Durham and brought to Kensington for a taste of the puppy good life. When he eventually made it to his vet appointment he got given a swag bag which included sample puppy grub but mostly flyers for the local dog services which (and I kid you not) included information on where to find a doggie therapist which I believe may come in handy as to prevent any later law suits for when he sues us for damages for the trauma he went through whilst in lift purgatory.

How it happened was this: bold as brass with his new harness on and not yet in his carry-case he darted forward into said lift.  Lift doors begin to close and a foot is put forward to re-open the doors.... yet they continue to close.  In blind panic and thought of the dog on the inside, owner holding lead on the other, doors close entrapping lead and lift moves off strangling dog in its wake.... the lead is thrown in with the dog.  So we just push the button and the doors re-open.  They re-open right?  Just push the button!

The lift remains right there with doors closed; us on one side, puppy on the other.  The dog starts to howl, yap, yap, howl.  

Enter two porters, a retiring security chap and eventually the lift man.  Mr Lift Man fixes the problem by jumping onto the lift from above.  I thought only Leon did things like that.  So 35 minutes in and pup gets rescued by a budding trained killer Frenchman.

Things I thought during the doggy drama:

Could I use this as an excuse to get out of this afternoon's interview?
Isn't this actually quite funny?
Has the dog had an accident in the lift?*
Will the lift smell forevermore if he has, and will this be detrimental to the relationship with other flat-holding lift users?
Will  I still have time to find an internet cafe and print out the Pizza Express voucher before I meet my friend for lunch?
How long before he runs out of oxygen?
Would there be significantly less air-time if there were a person in there with him (taking into account that he wouldn't be barking as much)?
Should we in future take the stairs?*
Now we are waiting about for the engineer should I pop back to the flat and get my lipstick?
Should I take a jacket?
Will the dog be scarred for life?*

I didn't use it as an excuse to get out of the interview, although I may have mentioned it as a bit of an ice-breaker/deal-breaker and I don't wonder why I haven't been called back.  We don't think that he is scarred for life as he perked up the second he was out.  I have continued to use the lift bar the first time after the event.  I noticed how immaculate the stairwell is.  I really should have got the jacket and the gooey lipstick made my hair stick to my lips as I chatted up/got chatted up by the handsome chugger (I have only just learnt this word) in Covent Garden.

And no, he didn't make a mess in the lift.