Thursday 27 April 2023

Over emotional

One of the things that makes modern life difficult is that so many people no longer simply express their emotions, they have to act them out in as many ways as possible. They have to "perform" their emotions.

They don't just get angry, they shout, they're abusive, they throw things, they issue threats, they attack people. They aren't just happy, they jump up and down with excitement, they tell everyone how ecstatic they are, they expect everyone to gush and enthuse.

This is what I would call over-emotional. Meaning not that you express too many emotions, or that you have an emotional reaction to just about everything, but that you act out your emotions instead of keeping them to yourself.

It must be terribly exhausting for those concerned. Isn't it enough to say you're angry and what you're angry about? Why go to such lengths to "prove" your emotions?

And yes, you've guessed it, I tend not to go that far. I usually express my emotions quite simply, without any fireworks - which rather disconcerts those who are more emotionally effusive.

So I'm rather bemused when someone on the telly is waxing euphoric about the meal they've just cooked, or the valuable antique they found in a junk shop, or their newly updated bathroom. You'd think they'd just won a fortune in the lottery (now that might well merit waxing euphoric).

People who make a meal of their emotions used to be unusual. They used to be dismissed as drama queens. Nowadays drama queens are two a penny and it's the emotionally reserved who're the oddballs.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Dodgy adults

People tell their children to behave like an adult - or behave like a grown-up. Either way that leaves plenty of scope as the behaviour of most adults is far from exemplary. The reality is that adults:

  • Lie
  • Make things up
  • Commit crimes
  • Drink too much
  • Eat too much
  • Smoke
  • Drive dangerously
  • Sell addictive drugs
  • Start wars
  • Cheat on their spouses
If anything, children should be telling adults to behave more like children. Because most of those adult tendencies/ nasty habits are absent in children, who still boast healthy and harmless lifestyles. They may lie or make things up, but that's about it.

Adults are in fact a thoroughly bad influence on children, and nothing like as superior as they would like to think. Unfortunately there are adults everywhere you look and children are easily swayed by them.

The average adult, if promoted as a role model for children, would probably be horrified. They would say, for goodness sake don't copy me with all my neuroses and all my failings. Find somebody more worthy of inspiring you.

So the immediate question when told to behave like an adult would have to be - which adult? Do I behave like Uncle Charlie, who drinks like a fish, flirts outrageously and drives like a maniac? Or do I behave like Aunt Delia, who's sensible and considerate and kind?

When I was young, I was indeed inspired by a lot of adults. Not because they were adults but because they had qualities that I admired and wanted for myself. I was especially influenced by an English teacher who made mastering English a whole lot of fun. Yes, he was an adult but that was irrelevant.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Without kids

Author Ruby Warrington says in her book "Women Without Kids" that ever since she got married she's constantly told she should be having children and that she's selfish and damaged for opting out.

It's not just remarks from other people. Everywhere she goes there are adverts for pregnancy tests, baby products and other child-related items. She sometimes feels ashamed that she doesn't have a maternal yearning, and used to wonder if there was something wrong with her.

Well, frankly I wonder what sort of people she's associating with, if so many of them are questioning her childlessness. As far as I can recall, nobody has ever suggested to me or Jenny that we should have had children.

We're often asked if we have children or not, but no one suggests that there's something wrong with us if we don't. Our parents may have wanted us to have children, but if so they never said.

Given the shocking state of Britain right now, with public services crumbling and the cost of everything rocketing, and all the evidence of climate breakdown, it's amazing that people still feel confident enough to have children. Goodness knows what sort of world they'll encounter by the time they're adults.

Then again, if nobody had children, who would look after oldies like us in our dotage? We'd be left high and dry.

Anyway, those people who chastise women (and surprise surprise it's usually women who're admonished, not men) should mind their own business and stop trying to guilt-trip the happily child-free.

Saturday 15 April 2023

Kids deprived

Urban parents want their children to be able to play in the street, as they did themselves when they were young, but increasingly they're being forced to keep their children indoors because of complaints from neighbours and local councils and because of heavy traffic.

Neighbours are objecting to balls landing in their gardens or hitting their cars, and councils are saying that the children are causing a nuisance, obstructing the highway and making people feel "unsafe" in their homes.

When I was young I didn't play in the street myself but plenty of other kids did and I don't recall any complaints from anyone. In those days people were more tolerant and didn't see any problem with boisterous children.

Allowing children to play in the street gives them a lot more freedom than if they're stuck indoors and constantly watched by their parents. It's a shame that the practice is dying out.

Increasing traffic doesn't help either, as it makes roads more dangerous and chokes them with parked cars that might get damaged. In many residential areas there's a 20 mph limit but drivers don't always stick to it.

Emma Wreyford in Bristol has an 11 year old daughter. "It should be such a lovely age for that sort of outdoor play but it's almost impossible. Here the car is king and public space is there for the rights of drivers to store their cars."

I don't see any obvious answer to the problem. Cars aren't going to conveniently disappear and intolerant neighbours are unlikely to suddenly be more tolerant. A lot of children are being deprived of a sense of freedom our generation took for granted.

Tuesday 11 April 2023


When I was growing up the idea of "bad taste" was commonplace and most people took care not to do or say anything that was "in bad taste".

My parents were constantly telling me I shouldn't do this or that because it would be in bad taste. Anything sexually too explicit, anything that insulted the dead, anything too critical of other people's appearance. All sorts of things were frowned on.

Today the idea of bad taste seems to be fading rapidly. Politicians and celebrities and journalists say the most outrageous things and get away with it. They might be briefly criticised but that's it. On social media there's no idea of bad taste at all and people say exactly what they want, including rape threats, death threats and all sorts of violent intimidation.

In fact for many people nowadays "bad taste" doesn't even refer to questionable behaviour, but only to an unfashionable personal choice, like orange wallpaper or shag pile rugs.

Some people scoff at the idea of bad taste and admire those who "tell it like it is". In practice this just seems to mean pouring out streams of invective against anybody and everybody, and not caring who you're upsetting or belittling.

But I was so thoroughly conditioned by my upbringing to avoid anything that was in bad taste that it's virtually impossible to change. I'm still very careful not to say or do anything controversial, anything that goes beyond the bounds of polite socialising. There's no way I could simply blurt out whatever comes to mind, however shocking or repulsive.

Other people's over-the-top comments never cease to amaze me.

Friday 7 April 2023

Public peeing

The complaints are piling up about public peeing. In other words people (mainly men) frantic for a pee, relieving themselves anywhere they fancy and sod the local residents who have to clear up the mess.

Partly it's because so many public toilets have closed due to funding cuts to local councils - half of them have gone in ten years - and partly it's because time-honoured inhibitions about public behaviour are lapsing.

If you're in a city centre, there will be shops with toilets. But if not, what are you supposed to do if you're desperate? You'll resort to any place where you don't think you're observed and let rip.

Obviously it's behaviour that most people find disgusting and anti-social, but what alternative is there when public toilets are rapidly disappearing? Are you supposed to pee in your pants? Are you supposed to knock on someone's door and ask to use the toilet? Are you supposed to stay at home?

At the same time people are less inhibited about their behaviour in public and more likely to just do as they think fit. When I was growing up peeing in public was totally taboo but that taboo has lapsed a bit in the meantime, along with taboos about audience behaviour, not cheating in exams, blatant lying and all the rest.

Westminster Council in London is trying a new deterrent - hydrophobic paint. It's water-repellent, meaning that anyone who pees against it will get splashback on their trousers and shoes. Of course people who're blind drunk probably won't even notice the splashback, but it's worth a try.

No chance at all of getting more public toilets. The British government is cutting public services to the bone, which means more toilet closures, not less.

Monday 3 April 2023

Dream homes

I'm very glad we moved into a house a few years' back that needed absolutely nothing doing to it. It had plenty of rooms sensibly laid out, it had an extension, it was structurally sound. We could just move in and relax.

I've read so many horror stories of people who decided to get work done on their house and ran into endless difficulties. Trying to find a builder who wasn't already snowed under with jobs. The price constantly rising. An ongoing shortage of skilled builders and building materials.

At the same the media are always showing us "dream homes" and urging us to refresh our "tired" home've guessed it, getting the builders in! Be careful what you wish for, as they say.

There does seem to be a general fashion these days for "doing up" your home rather than being content with what you already have.

When I was a child, I don't remember anyone in our street re-doing their house. It would have been regarded as pointless extravagance. Our house was cramped but it never occurred to my parents to build an extension. They eventually moved to a larger house when I was 13, and never added an extension to that one either.

I'm not sure my parents even imagined a "dream home". If they did, I suspect it was simply one that was well looked-after. My father was forever repainting one room after another and keeping all the windows clean. That was good enough for him.

Dream homes are fun to read about but for us that's as far as it goes.