Month: November 2011
The other day a gentleman came into the shop and raised his cap to me. It was a really nice moment and made me wish that hat wearing wasn’t in decline; it’s such a nice gesture. I, of course, nodded my head back, in fact more or less everyone who comes in the shop gets a nod, a smile or a “hello” and more or less everyone responds. It also doesn’t matter which member of staff is on, they are all friendly and greet all our customers. It’s not as though I even have to tell them, it’s a natural to them as it is to me. So it came as a bit of a surprise to read that in a recent poll, that said Britons’ were no ruder than they were 20 years ago, that the vast majority of people disagreed with the poll’s findings. Apparently we think we’re getting ruder. I do think we are getting more familiar. Nowadays it’s kisses all round when friends meet up and I have to confess to wishing we were a little less Continental in this regard. What’s wrong with a good handshake or a nod of the head, all this kissing and hugging is a bit much, but no harm is meant by it so I’ll learn to live with it. But extra kissing isn’t rudeness, well it might be a bit offensive if you don’t know them but really it’s not generally considered offensive.
And of course it’s not just hugs and kisses where we’ve become more familiar, there’s more of a breakdown between age gaps, children aren’t silent until spoken too, men and women mix in pubs and terraces far more. All over society we mix in ways that we never used to which can sometimes lead to confusions and minor embarrassments but I still don’t see that as rude. If a child interrupts me when I’m speaking I’ll let them know that that they have to wait. I don’t necessarily think the child is being rude, they’re just learning. If the parent allows the child to interrupt then I think it is the parent that is being rude.
But I don’t see rudeness as an issue of the younger generation any more than it is of the older one. I’ve lost count of the times when my boys and I go single file for an elderly pair of women – and I’m afraid it’s always women – and they don’t say thank you or smile or do anything. I don’t expect them to go single file, they’re older and slower but they are not blind or dumb. I should imagine that it is this sort of person that complains the loudest about rudeness in others. I heard a nice story once about a man who was mending a hedge beside a road. A stranger came up to him and asked what the people in the next village were like. The labourer asked if he had been to the previous village down the road and when the man said he had, the labourer asked what he made of them there. “Oh they were among the nicest people I’ve ever met” said the stranger. “Ah well, you’ll find the people in the next village just as friendly.” A week later another stranger passed the labourer and asked the same question. Again the labourer asked the stranger what he thought of the people in the previous village. “Well they were awful, a bunch of thieves and villains.” “Hmm,” said the labourer, ”in that case I’d avoid the next village if I were you.”
Where ever you go you always take you with you.
I was walking out of Tesco today when the newspaper front covers caught my eye. They were the ones that are face on at pram height and they were showing the mutilated face and body of Gaddafi from various angles with headlines such as “Don’t Shoot” and “That’s For Lockerbie.” To be frank I was shocked and got as far as the car before I thought no that’s really wrong and went back into the shop to see if I had seen those images at the eye level of small children. Now obviously Tesco has no power over what the papers print no matter how sensationalist and brutal, but they do have a say over how they are displayed. So I went over to customer services and pointed out that I thought those low level face on papers should be removed. The lady at customer services seemed unimpressed pointing out that children see far worse on their X Box. Now I hate to come over all righteous and whatever but I was shocked. This was a real image of a man beaten and shot to death, with words pleading for his life right at the eye level of 2 – 7 year olds. I was not concerned with the rights and wrongs of the disposal of a brutal dictator but with the sensibilities of children. I thought the X-Box argument was a red herring because very young children don’t play the bloodier games and even if they do see them is that right? The customer advisor said she could raise it with a manager if I wanted?
I felt quite defeated and said yes if she could pass my complaint along I would be grateful and I left the shop. I felt really bad, I didn’t have the courage of my convictions to stand and wait for the manager but left feeling wholly out of step with the world. I got home and threw out a whinge on Facebook and was surprised with the number and speed of replies agreeing that it was out of order. Now these are my friends replying so you might expect them to agree with me – but then you wouldn’t know my friends very well, they’d either politely ignored my compliant or point out why I was wrong.
Feeling encouraged by the mob rule I rang up Tesco to ask if there had been any follow up. Blow me down, Tesco had removed all those low level covers. What a result! But what lessons I learnt. First, have the courage of your convictions. Don’t think you are out of step with the world. Maybe the rest of the world also thinks they are also out of step? What if we all turned round and said I don’t like this. Maybe we could really improve things. The next thing I learnt was it was worth complaining because maybe Tesco had already received a complaint from someone else and were just waiting to see if anyone else complained. Or maybe one complaint was enough. And that’s the next thing that I learnt. Great big companies will listen to individual concerns and respond immediately so it’s always worth airing your concerns rather than walking away thinking no one will listen to me. The old adage is true, the person that sees the problem is the person that should deal with the problem.
I’m not suggesting that I’m about to become some sort of campaigning zealot but if I see something I’m not impressed with I’m going to develop my backbone and go and have a word and if the first person I complain to seems unimpressed I’m going to stand by my feelings and go up a level.
Well we didn’t beat St Austell but we didn’t lose either. Like many close games, there was a certain level of dissention over decisions and there were definitely frowns on both sides of the pitch, depending on which way the decision went. The week before against Saltash was no better, in fact it was worse; we were winning, then Saltash scored the winning try and the final whistle was blown immediately after (by the ref who was also a Saltash coach.) I’m not saying anything.
As the light fades so too does the sailing, surfing and golf to be replaced with cross country running, football and rugby. Nice, clean sports to filthy, dirty, mucky sports. My poor washing machine.
All this talk of sport has made me think about the current call for a sports stadium in Cornwall. It almost seems too much to imagine which I think shows the level of the problem, if we can’t imagine it, how can we ever realise it? The reason I can’t imagine it is quite simply the cost. We’re such a poor county, the government is skint and who exactly will pay? These things cost a fair few pennies, always seem to go over budget and probably won’t be ready until my grandchildren are up and running and given that my children are only just up and running I’m hoping that happy event is a decade or two away!
A stadium offers all the obvious sporting benefits but it also offers others that aren’t instantly thought of. It offers health benefits and employment ones and for some children it will give them the break that school can’t provide. Schools by and large are set up for academic, not sporting excellence. This will be a new venue for some children to thrive and realise that Cornwall cares about its athletes as much as its academics.
It can also host social events, gigs and concerts. We know from the Boardmaster Events and the Eden Sessions that over 60% of the audience come from out of county so there is no problem about being able to fill a stadium, especially if the names are big enough. The trick is to make a stadium pay for itself and wipe off the debt as fast as possible; using it for a variety of functions is the way to do it, including some top ticket price attractions.
A stadium also has a community benefit. Steve and Finn regularly travel to Plymouth to watch Argyle get beaten but agree that it would be so much better to support your own local team in decent facilities nearby. It would also be nice to watch a win once in a while but apparently being a fan isn’t about the winning? There’s something special about a good stadium that really lifts the teams and the crowds. When I lived in Cardiff, home matches were played at Arms Park, literally just a few roads over from the city centre. When Wales scored a try, the whole of Queen Street would reverberate to the noise from the stadium. It was quite a memory to be popping in and out of shops accompanied by 20,000 Welshmen. Sitting in a local pub listening to the match on the radio or tele was done so with a live backing track of the stadium roaring in approval. There’s a moment when the whole community would stop and grin at each other as they realised that Wales must have scored a try and for a second they were all brought together before carrying on with their day to day tasks.
So all in all why wouldn’t be want a stadium? Let’s hope that the money can be found and the right location agreed upon and then the sky can ring out to the cries of “Come on Cornwall!”
Am I a believer? Probably, I think we all are a bit but what we believe in differs wildly. A few years back I was at a children’s carol concert when a guest preacher told a joke that pretty much let the Father Christmas identity out of the bag. Little children looked confused, older children looked on in amazement and parents were livid. My main annoyance was who was this man to say that his belief system was any more valid than my sons’?
There seem to be those that believe and won’t listen to alternatives as they “know” that they are right. Then there are those that believe that their belief system is no such thing but a rigorously proven scientific system and won’t listen to alternatives and in fact will dismiss out of hand beliefs that just seem too hard to swallow. Then there are the “sit on the fence types” that seem to believe nothing and know nothing preferring not to make their mind up. I probably belong to the sceptics and fence sitters more than the believers. But until last week I was quite happy knowing that the fastest thing in the universe was light because Einstein had proved it. Now it looks like that might be under question and I love it. I love it when rock solid absolutes are shaken. Of course at these moments scientists quite happily declare that nothing is certain and in fact true scientists regularly say the world is less known than we think, but those that believe in science find that their belief system can also be shaken. It seems that scientists are only right until they are proved wrong, alternative thinkers are considered wrong until scientists can prove them right.
Now, if we are going to put gravity and feng shui in a boxing ring I know which one I am going to back and not just because gravity has its feet on the ground and feng shui doesn’t like the alignment of the corner it’s sitting in. I’m backing gravity because there has been a whole heap of proven research into it for centuries and my front door faces south and is painted red and I still haven’t made a fortune.
It’s easy to mock alternative ways at looking at the world but often we rush to advance our knowledge and leave perfectly good discoveries behind. The best way to get rid of ulcerating sores? Bind them up with maggots. Totally mediaeval but it works, however, by the same token those in the know back then thought that bleeding was also a great cure for all ills.
So what don’t I believe in? Well Feng shui for a start and being able to talk to the dead. I don’t believe that aliens built the pyramids, I don’t disbelieve in aliens, they just don’t strike me as the jobbing mason sort. I don’t believe in astrology and I don’t believe in fortune telling. I don’t believe in fairies but sea monsters are fair game. I think people are just bags of water, chemicals and electrical impulses so I’ll remain open minded on dowsing, acupuncture, homeopathy and chakras.
I do believe that there are more thing in heaven and hell than are dreamt of in our philosophy so I’m going to remain open minded and just because I believe doesn’t mean I’m right and just because someone can’t prove a thing doesn’t mean that they are wrong. And as for Father Christmas – well of course he’s real.