Tag Archives: improvement

Words to live by: IF.

13 Aug

I hope noone in the authors estate is gonna get antsy with me for putting this up here. All due respect to them and the man himself.

If you’re not into reading it, jump to the bottom.

IF

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

-Rudyard Kipling.

(he forgets an important -to me- line in the first stanza; “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”, but still it’s a pretty good performance. Seems it’s an important piece to him aswell, seeing as he’s been reciting it off by heart since the seventies)

 

London Riots: Big society gives itself a big pat on the back…

10 Aug

(*for the benefit of those across the seas, the ‘Big society’ initiative was announced a good while ago by David Cameron and the conservative party as a remedy to all of Britain’s woes. It was designed to create a more harmonious society by encouraging people to take an active part in their community…

…It was quickly laughed out of the country when it became depressingly clear that it was nothing more than a nice sounding metaphor for drastic budget cuts and general political fuckery…George Orwell working in conjunction with Douglas Adams and a crate or two of Jameson couldn’t have thought of something more ludicrously twisted.)

Don’t panic…that’s just a ‘community participation liaison’ coming round to check you’ve done your share of the nations’ tax returns…

Some of the more heartwarming reports to come out of the london riots are those of people gathering together to protect and serve their own community. Yesterday, large groups of people organised themselves on twitter and facebook to clean up the scenes of the riots, showing that even though people were angry enough to destroy, people were also angry enough to rebuild. Heartwarming stuff.

“Gentlemen: TO BROOMS!”

It has only been mentioned in passing, but there have been rumours of people arming themselves and standing guard by their local businesses, ready to chase away anyone that might have an eye for trouble. This is particularly motivating because along with the large chain shops that have been looted, rioters have also targeted small family run cornershops and businesses in what is nothing more than senseless destruction. Tesco? yeah fair enough I can maybe understand that; they’ve got a nationwide organisation to back them up…Mr Singh the friendly man who runs the local chipshop? He’s got nothing more than yesterdays earnings to see him through.

I read a clip in the paper this morning about looters being confronted by a teary eyed woman when they emerged from a local fashion boutique, because the boutique was built and run by one woman who hand made all of the clothes herself. When confronted with this, a lady-looter stood there with a freshly stolen wedding dress draped across her arm looking very sheepish (but, importantly, she didn’t do anything about putting the dress back as far as I know). Heartbreaking stuff.

But wait! People gathered themselves of their own free will with those good old english brooms to clean up the mess! jolly good show, as Boris johnson would say.

Ah…Boris Johnson. Again, for the benefit of those across the seas: The hithchiker’s guide to the galaxy defines Boris Johnson as ‘ a floppy haired being, known to appreciate a glass or two of cucumber sandwiches soaked in Gin, who is so out of touch with his constituency, and the Earth as a whole, that he has been regularly sighted talking to a tree along the A127 dual carriageway, having stopped there for a rest on his way to pick up a mess of cricket bats from Basildon for use in his regular bi-weekly tap-dancing class. It is not known how the cricket bats felt about this, although the tree is said to be surprisingly despondent.

So he turns up to shouts of “Where’s your broom!” from the crowd being carefully kept far enough away from him that they won’t actually notice he’s probably goggle-eyed, and yknow what? he actually gets one and marches down to the crowd. Fair play to him I must say. He gives a speech about how he appreciates their work and effort and how they won’t let these hooligans represent London proper, and that they will all persevere in their efforts to show the world that London can not and should not be defined by that awfully obvious/lazy headline: ‘London’s burning‘.

But, unfortunately, this is where I have to put a dampener on it. I don’t want to, not really, especially with the solid example the people of London are showing in the face of mindless violence and destruction, but I have to say it.

The groups of people who protected local businesses could be described as taking part in the big society….but then again that’s what the police are for. They’re trained, insured and paid for that sort of thing. And of course, the people of london pay taxes so that the police can be trained, insured and paid to do that sort of work.

The groups of people who cleaned up the mess could very well be held up as a prime example of the big society, as I have a feeling they might when the smoke clears…but then again, things like cleaning up the streets are what streetcleaners are for. They’re trained, insured and paid for that sort of thing. And of course, the people of London pay taxes so that they can be trained, insured and paid to do that work.

…like in…some sort of…-oh gosh I’ve forgotten the word-…so..soci…God I’ve completely forgotten it. You know what I’m talking about: Where a nation, through thousands of years of hard work and perseverance, gathers itself together enough to say “Hey! why don’t we all pool our money, so that we can create neat things like a police force, who we can train for that job alone, then we can pay people to clean the streets, cos we don’t want our Janet from number 12 doing it anymore- she’s got a very bad back nowadays especially since the operation and she can’t miss anymore work- and then we can maintain it properly and find a place for everyone and look out for each other so that when people need protecting the police will be there in full force; well trained, insured and paid, and the cleaners too! when there’s a right big mess to clean up they’ll be there: well trained, insured and paid…

A SOCIETY! I knew it…it was there right at the tip of my tongue.

To drastically cut funding to schools, services and society as a whole is taking political fuckery to a completely new level. To then gather round for a press opportunity with the very people you’re fucking over and telling them they’re contribution is valued, is bullshit you could smell from the far end of Baltimore. They make a contribution. Every fucking week. It’s called ‘Taxes’, and you are crippling them with it. Don’t repay them by cutting essential services. Don’t repay them with a jolly good show. Repay them with the services they pay for: Well and fully trained, insured and paid.

(I am not in any way trying to imply that the people who did the good things that they did shouldn’t have. I am inspired by the things they are doing for their city.I am trying to imply- no sorry; I’m saying– that if the governments had actually focused on actively making society better, rather than just throwing everything in the air and hoping for the best, maybe they would have been in a better position to deal with the reasons and ramifications of the riots)

Friday

8 Jul

It’s friday, and you’re awesome. You can:

A)Strut, happy in the knowledge that you’re more than you were, and invigorated by it. Any improvement, no matter how big or small, is a good one. keep on strutting. You deserve it.

Or…

B) Chill; safe in the knowledge that you’ve still got a bit to go, but you’ve gotten this far so it’s not gonna hurt to keep going. Sit back, take it easy and relax. You deserve it.

Don’t stop there though, hell no. Play me off, courage wolf…

have a good one;)

Freaks and Geeks, part one: Freaks

29 Jun

In honour of a weekend spent watching one of the greatest shows ever created, and cancelled, Im gonna link a few things I’ve been wondering about together under it’s heading.

I had the misfortune to catch a bit of the monster’s ball concert recorded by lady gaga for HBO (Oh HBO…how did you fall so far from the wire) recently, and her wince-inducing monologues caught my attention. I’ll get to the content of it later, but the first thing that got me was the delivery which was, to put it mildly, cringeworthy. Sorry Gaganauts, but this won’t be kind.

Obviously she was partly sticking to her image; that of a stone cold goddess who doesn’t really care what people think, because she’s doing her own thing and loving it. Fair enough, that could account for some of the woodenness. Unfortunately, after the third or fourth badly executed dramatic pause in her soliloquoy, I started feeling awkward. You know when someone is really putting their heart into something, you just do. The content of her carefully crafted speeches were worthy of some heart being put in- well, the content stood up to a few minutes of basic logic anyway- but to me it just fell flat.

Take this one. Even though it’s a video ( you can’t get that personal-contact level of understanding with videos), you still just know he believes what he’s saying. It shines through, relentlessly.

Now compare that to this one:

(Quick edit: WOW, watching the two vids again, it strikes me how divisive lady gaga’s speech is compared to Henry’s)

Again, she’s got that whole cold as ice/madonna-like/fashion icon/strong person thing going on, which I’m sure must account for some of the lack of any discernible emotion in the speech, but to be honest if I hear someone in person making an inspirational speech I don’t equate being loud or shouting with rousing inspiration. (you could say that she doesn’t want to be seen as one of those weeping, feel-good, people gushing over how we can all get along, something I’m down with, but the Henry Rollins clip above shows that you can walk the line between cold hearted honesty and uplifting emotion damn well)

As a side note, I find it a little funny that she tells the crowd to forget all the people who told them they couldn’t be something in their life. It’s a useful tool,¬† for a quick fix I suppose, but you can get a lot farther by acknowledging those things and either working on them or using them as a spur. Then again, emphasising a groups persecuted nature is a classic strategy for collecting them together under a single banner- something I thought about touching on, but figure I don’t want that can of worms opened just yet: It’d distract from my main point below…although I’d love to tear lagy gaga’s logic apart)

(Sorry; I should say now for those of you not in the know, that in another speech on the tour she speaks about how they’ve locked the doors and left all the ‘Freaks’ outside, presumably the people who don’t understand or agree with her fans and their lifestyles, which is why I’ve titled this post Freaks)

Which brings me to the reveal. “Born this way”. That was gnawing at my mind for a good while before I realised what annoyed me so much about it. I’m not going anywhere near the debate of whether someone is born of certain sexual preferences, personality traits, prejudices, needs, wants, desires etc… or anything else like that. NO sir-ree. I’m nowhere near knowledgable enough on the subjects of genetics to go wading into that one.

Simply saying “I was born this way” is a complete cop out. As if you never did anything other than ‘be’. I’m not gonna dance round the subject (although I did do that a little up above, apologies), but she’s obviously talking to her gay fanbase. You were just born this way? Really?!

No, you weren’t. You went through countless hours, days, weeks and months of wrestling with yourself before admitting the truth and embracing it. You completed a mental marathon the likes of which many people in the world would never experience.

You spent even more time worrying about the effect that revelation would have on your family and friends. Before tackling the issue you worried constantly about their reactions and the honest light it would shine on your relationships.

You might even have spent gallons of tears, both happy and sad, when the subject was broached and discussed with those people. You became grateful for the people who supported you, appreciated their presence in your life and maybe recognised a layer of them you never knew they had. For the ones who reacted negatively, well…you dealt with it, somehow.

You weren’t just ‘born this way’. You worked hard, went through countless times both good and bad, and came out a better person for it. You were forced to question yourself, the world around you and your relation to it before finally deciding whether to open yourself up and embrace it, or close yourself off and forget it. For me, that’s a much better rallying call than simply saying “I was born this way”.

You went through a lot to become that person, and it’s made you all the better for it. Please don’t cop out by just saying “I was born this way”…it sets a terrible example for everyone else.

Progress is a stealthy beast

27 Jun

I’ve had cause to mark a bit of progress over the past few days. I didn’t notice it at first, but that’s always the way isn’t it? Things change for the good so slowly that you don’t remember the full frame of reference you have, preferring to compare yourself on how you were recently rather than long ago.

A while ago I was chilling outside a bar having a smoke when a Brazilian guy rambles out the door and stands in my general vicinity.¬† I strike a bit of a conversation and we shoot the breeze for a few minutes before two girls stumble, and I mean stumble, out the door in front of us.They were obviously with the guy, although I don’t know how well they all knew each other seeing as there was still that ‘first meeting’ sense lingering in the air, but they were cosy enough.

The girls start drunkenly jostling for attention from all angles straight away and I decide I’m having none of it. That’s a pretty decent step for me in the first place, but not the point proper ( I have a habit of calling people out when they’re acting like idiots anyway).

One of them starts hassling people for a smoke while obviously¬† rolling one up anyway. Bad mistake purty; if you’re gonna prey, do it right…and not in front of someone who can innocently-but at the same time damn blatantly- steer a situation in other directions (i don’t know how I get away with verbally assaulting someone for something like this and still have it seem like it’s all good, I really don’t).

But anyway, the two girls start really screaming for attention, which leads them to start making out – while looking around at the audience- and coming on to the brazilian lad. Long story short: they dragged him away* to what I can only presume would be the best night of his life, and I was pretty happy for him. I was, honestly!

*(While getting dragged away I wished him a good night and he stretched his arm out to shake my hand; he looked like someone getting eaten alive in a zombie film!)

The progress in all this? Well a few years ago I would have either

A) read the situation early and done my best to wedge myself in between the girls and the brazilian. Would I have succeeded? who knows, the point is I would have tried, making myself feel (and look) like an idiot either way.

or B) used this instance as an excuse to barrel off into a drunken wallow spiral…

“It should have been ME, JIMMY! jimmy it should have been me…”

about how things never work out for me and how life is terrible and how I could have had them and all that pointless babble, then gone on the dreaded hunt for the ‘last chopper from Saigon’.

I was pretty happy with that for one, but even happier when I saw the same two girls over the weekend at another bar and thought to myself “Huh…would ya look at that.” without batting an eyelid or, worse, letting that little devil on the shoulder start whispering “Huh would you look at that is right…dirty bitches. You know what to do…”.

In the past I would have genuinely, and drunkenly, tried to swing my way into that little sandwich regardless of the circumstances. And then there’s the fact that, more and more recently, I’ve taken stock of myself during nights out and figured that my time would be better spent enjoying the company of my friends than keeping watch/hunting for a nice piece of ass.*

*(hey it’s a hard thing to do when you’ve got the horn of a raging bull, but; I’d much rather take part in memories I’d like to remember rather than ones I’d like to forget)

Fuck me, I really did waste a lot of time back in the day. I was never hugely successful on the occasions I let myself ease out of my principles (which could even make it worse haha), but still I allowed myself to be taken over by the mindset, and the mindset is key.

Progress is indeed a stealthy beast. I never thought I’d be sitting here writing this sort of stuff and, even better, I never thought I’d be happy with myself about it. It takes a long time to change, and it’s very easy to forget where you started. Carrying on without knowing, or acknowledging, where you started can lead you to not see much improvement and maybe even influence you into thinking there’s not much point. Look far back enough though, or hard enough, and you’ll see a point you’ve been moving away from. From there, keep an eye on it.

I’m not gonna let all this allow me to become complacent though, hell no. Keep one eye on where you’ve been, and the other on where you want to be…Besides: The Last chopper from Saigon has more of my soul than I care to think about.

(and of course, the obligatory music. I’m curious; is this appreciated? or am I just getting peoples nerves by putting music at the end of the posts? Is it a page-loading hassle worthy of unsubscribing from the page? If you’d care to comment your view, it’d be much appreciated!…although I do love me some music, so I can’t promise your view- if negative- will be heeded;)

All the best