The nature of ‘Hate’

My, my. This is an interesting one. We see incidences where the state and various witch hunting twatter mobs want to punish people for saying the ‘wrong’ thing. Or having a bit of a public meltdown. Or making a silly joke to annoy their partner. There’s an awful lot of hate out there in Interwebland. Or so you’d think.

Mrs S and I were discussing this topic recently while annoying serving staff kept on trying to bust in on our conversation with repeated “Is everything all right?” butting in to conversations without having the good manners to let me finish what I was saying. Who tells them it’s okay to do this? If I’m still talking and the serving person has delivered my food and drink that’s the last I need to see of them unless there is a problem, which there so rarely is. I haven’t bitten anyone yet, but I’m often sorely tempted to deliver a stern lecture on good manners to intrusive serving staff. Which doesn’t make me a ‘hater’ by the way, simply someone who doesn’t like to be treated disrespectfully by people expecting a reward for ‘good’ service.

Besides, who defines what is ‘hate’? The courts? Farcebook or Twatter? Some humourless mentally underage YouTube ‘moderator’? Here’s a thing; what is ‘offensive’ to some of their more hypersensitive users may to me or others simply be part of the healthy cut and thrust of debate. Having a differing opinion is not offensive. Making a rather lame joke is not offensive. However, posting personal attacks, doxxing, threats of violence, attempts at intimidation and public campaigns to get someone fired or attacking their livelihoods, I think most sober and sensible people can agree, are most definitely ‘hateful’. All else is political peccadillo and uninformed frippery.

Which is the consensus Mrs S and I came to. We also came to the conclusion that British Columbia, Canada has become a Stepford kind of place. Which we’re finding increasingly creepy. We’re also coming to the conclusion that language is changing significantly, because the words ‘Activist’ and ‘Arsehole’ (US / Canada ‘Asshole’) are rapidly becoming synonyms.

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Petersonism

Having finished my second re-read of his work ’12 Rules for life – an antidote to chaos’. To bowdlerise Mark Anthony’s funeral speech from Julius Caesar; I write to praise Jordan B Peterson, not to bury him. He has it. In his video lectures lie the answer to the craziness of compelled speech and the ugliness of political correct(less)ness.

Like the one below, he addresses the concepts with a sympathetic interviewer. Although he’s demonstrated an ability to operate in what others would call ‘hostile environments’. Like more than holding his own in hostile interviews, like with that of Cathy Newman.

Incidentally, I found among all the biblical stories, where Jordan draws upon the folk tales ensconced within the Christian bible (And Walt Disney), a lot of principles which I’d always tried (and too often failed) to live up to, much of worth and use. Like the stuff my Dad tried to teach me but failed. So I had to learn for myself, and apply what little wisdom I obtained to my life. Which has been an uneven process. The problem for me was always the religious references. As a teen I saw how organised religion poisoned communications between people, only serving the believers while punishing those for non-belief. So the moment religion crept into the argument, I switched off. I suspect a lot of other people felt this way too.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps these folk tales he draws on could do with a little re-framing?

Play Dirty

Regarding the recent spate of shootings in the USA, I was watching the public response to the London terror attacks where some people took to fighting back in the only way left open to them. Thirty years ago things would have been different as British and American men (and women) were far more accustomed to fighting with their fists and feet. Indeed, within some neighbourhoods and social groups this still happens. Especially in parts of London, where the 2018 murder rate recently topped that of New York. Although still nowhere near that of Los Cabos, Mexico, where the murder rate per 100,000 was 111.33 (Total 365). But that’s by the by. London and New York don’t even register in the top 50 of murder capitals.

Thirty plus years ago in the UK, a more usual response to a man with a knife wildly slashing out and stabbing random people, at least in the circles I once moved in, would have been them immediately getting bashed over the head or in the face with the nearest handy object like a chair, pool cue, beer glass, or bottle (Broken or not). Usually after being partially blinded by getting someone’s drink in their face. It’s amazing how quickly that can stop an assailant in their tracks.

Now you can take this at face value for what it’s worth, but in my late teens I was told by a snooker playing boon companion who others described as an ex “rough house barman” who had done this sort of thing and got away unscathed on more than one occasion (But not when four attackers got him down and beat him so hard they burst his left eye, so his story went), the only way for an unarmed combatant to take down any armed assailant is to throw a heavy or blinding object at their eyes, following through immediately with something else heavier and to keep hitting their face, eyes and ears until they drop their weapon and run, or it is safe for the defender to do so, like if their assailant is down and definitively out.

Now I have to stress that this sort of tactic is last ditch, do or die, but if you’ve no other protection, it seems the only immediate way to survive an armed assailant is to attack your assailants eyes and keep on attacking. Literally to blind the bastard. A kick in the unmentionables can also disable, but God help you if you miss. Better to blind, knock them down, then kick them in their tender parts just to make sure they stay down. Then run. Apparently this is a well known special forces tactic. Blind or blindside your attacker(s), close the distance, get inside their swing and keep at their tender parts with whatever comes to hand until they’re hors de combat. Use them as shields against their fellow assailants if need be. Just keep them so busy trying to keep their eyesight that they don’t have time to focus on using any weapon(s). Disarm if you can, kick their weapon well out of reach and don’t muck about.

Personal anecdote here, I was actually forced to fight this way once, in sheer terror I might add, against two other guys, one with a large knife, one with a large adjustable wrench, and blow me down it works. All really that matters is speed, aggression and surprise. The guy with the weapon always expects others to back down. My particular assailants ran from a complete headbanger with an apparent kamikaze complex (L’l old bookish me) swinging a chair and screaming blue murder. Which probably saved me a trip to hospital or worse. All I know is that they ran like hell and never came my way again. Which is lucky for me because I generally abhor violence and will walk ten miles to avoid a possible fight.

Secondary anecdote; I once had nine types of crap beaten out of me when I went into a scrap half-heartedly. Two guys. One baited, the other one drop kicked me in the back from behind. Next thing I know is I’m on my knees taking a kicking to the head and shoulders. All because I thought it was a stupid drunken fight that wouldn’t come to anything. Now I was lucky to get out of it with just a broken nose and without a fractured skull. Which served me right. After that I always asked a mate to ‘watch my back’ when going to places where trouble might lurk. On the proviso that I would do the same for them and never, ever get into a fight unless I was prepared to go all in. Must have worked, because I never caught another beating like that again.

Lets face it, if some nutter is yelling “Allar akbar!” or similar and trying to stick a bloody great knife in you, last resort tactics like spitting in their eyes and at the same time whacking at their faces and eyes with the nearest relatively heavy object or even your fingernails in their eyeballs may just stop them cold. Which sort of dirty tactic may be all that stand between you and bloody oblivion. The idea is that they will be so busy trying to defend their sight that they won’t have time to use their weapon. Then once the attacker is disabled or distracted long enough, get out of there, fast. Leg it. Put as much distance as you can between you and them, and preferably some big, heavy and above all, lockable doors. It may just save your life and the lives of others around you because chummy may still have their weapon but is now easier pickings for the Police, when they eventually arrive. The Police in turn may thank you, but they probably won’t. Indeed, in the UK and Australia they’re likely to arrest the victim and let their assailants off. Why, I have no idea.

Personally, I wouldn’t hang around to find out. Getting clear relatively unscathed should be the only reward you will ever need. You may even get a little hurt in the process, from bruises or a scratch to a wound needing stitches, been there, done that, but it’s way better than getting very dead indeed.

This is also the secret behind why a hundred pound, five foot four woman can take down a six foot four body builder with a black belt in Martial Arts. And I’ve actually seen that happen. Mind you, she was an ex-Greenfinch, a female ex-squaddie who’d actually seen active service in Ulster, and the guy was a Dojo only fighter, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. He certainly was.

Now I know this is purely for one on one situations, because two nasty bastards with knives or guns can ruin anyone’s entire weekend. But the cardinal rule is this; don’t cry, don’t scream, just disable your immediate assailant, put them down hard, kick them hard while they’re down if you can (In the side ribs works nicely -nice big target area – very sensitive), then get the hell out of the way if you can, and for fucks sake don’t hang around to film the fun with your rinky-dinky little smartphone. Terrorism or serious bar fights are not a spectator sport. One of life’s simple truths is that you cannot upload to your playlist of funny cat video’s on YouTube if you are languishing in hospital or worse, seriously dead. Also remember, anything can be turned into a weapon, even the spine of a paperback book or a tightly rolled up newspaper (The notorious ‘Brummie Brick’). I’ve even seen a lightweight folding aluminium table pushed corner first into an attackers face making both an adequate shield and weapon. The trick is not to let them back you into a corner.

And you don’t need a gun. Just looking at my desk I can see at least four items within arms reach that can be used to stop and possibly kill an assailant. A 30oz glass paperweight (Heavy enough to crack a skull), pens (One pushed into the eye socket can ruin anyone’s day), a paperknife (Likewise or into any soft tissue; eyes, neck, belly or groin), a small tray (Swung hard edge-first into the larynx or across the bridge of the nose). A hardback book likewise. Even the spine of a heavy paperback systems manual, providing it’s held and swung right, can fracture a skull. My kitchen by contrast is full of lethally sharp bladed and heavy objects that can ruin any home invaders day. From my expensive German and French bladed cooking knives to either of my heavy cast iron skillets. Not that I want either my knives or skillets damaged – they’re too valuable.

The simple truth is that anything that can be thrown or made solid enough to be held and swung hard enough to blind. Dirt in the face, pepper (Cayenne especially), even squirted ketchup (Chilli sauce or tabasco works best) will do and you don’t even need to be a black belt in Asemi-detached, Deja-foo-jong with fried rice or any other martial art to do it. If your attacker is bigger and stronger than you, anything in the soft parts should be considered fair game. Survival is all that counts.

Now I know as a society in the West we have generally become more peaceful, less prone to settle our differences with fists than in the days of my youth. Indeed, civil society nowadays runs on this principle. Overall this is a good thing. But if we are being attacked by people with bloody murder in their hearts and hands and the Police are minutes (and longer) away, what else are ordinary members of the public to do? We are not important, well apart from to ourselves. We the public have no armed bodyguards like politicians or the elites.

And like it or not, the everyday forces of law and order are no more superhuman than anyone else. In the UK, all they have are batons and maybe pepper sprays if they’re bloody lucky, and we expect them to cope with fanatics bent on mass murder? Seriously?

Indeed, if some crazy pulls a big knife or a gun then gets a drink thrown in their face, or spit in their eyes followed by a swung chair over the head and a few more people join in, kicking and punching. How do you think the would-be killers are going to react?

Answer; they will go down.

Remember John Smeaton, a Glasgow Airport baggage handler? Or Newsagent Mohammed Afzah? Chef Florin Morariu? Other ordinary, nameless people who bombarded the London Bridge attackers last year with bottles, tables and glasses. They saved the lives of others. No-one can calculate how many. Five? Ten? Fifty? All we know is that without their intervention, the body count would have been higher. Like with those guys who took down a gun toting crazy on that train to Amsterdam.

The examples are all out there. Given the attitude of the certain powers that be to favour a certain religious group in case the officers in question are seen as ‘racist’ or ‘phobic’ or they’ve been given orders to ‘wait for backup’ to tackle a weaponised, off his meds nutcase. Meaning you may have to fight for your life alone. Why? Because you may be the only one who can. As an observation I’d say that in general, people have forgotten how to fight hand to hand. Perhaps these are skills that the populace at large may have to relearn. Or at least turn their own desperation around and use their fear to fight back when occasion demands.

On the other hand you could rely on this one simple rule, which I’ve found is an absolute life saver; whatever you do, don’t get into a fracas unless there is absolutely no other alternative. Keep your eyes open and don’t escalate, because as I have found to my own cost; you have to watch your back because no-one else will.

I’m not talking they’re-all-out-to-get-you paranoia here, just a little everyday situational awareness. Like looking left and right before you cross a road. Being aware of your surroundings and actions. Staying clear of trouble. Maybe taking a martial arts class or three to learn a little close up and personal self defence. Doesn’t take much. I prefer Judo and Atemi-Jitsu myself. Far more relaxed. And they work. They also teach confidence and self discipline which is a plus. Not like all those flashy jumps, punches and kicks some places teach. A block, hip throw or wrist-lock will still work, even if you mis-time it. Not so a punch or kick. Besides, punching and kicking, if you don’t know what you’re doing (or in the heat of battle, do it wrong) can actually hurt you more than the object of your attention. As I know to my own cost. Floating bone splinter in left hand still not healed right after three decades.

One last thing; if forced to fight this way in self defence, accept you will get hurt when you go all in, but getting hurt on your feet fighting for survival is far preferable (At least to me) to the shame of cowering and dying on your knees like some animal in a slaughterhouse. When there is no other alternative. Especially if you’re terrified. Fear is useful. The adrenaline boost it brings will give you speed and strength in an emergency. Which may just be enough. Don’t think, just do. Like they tell you in this handy little book. If you’re too  cheap to buy a copy, there’s a good online version here or a copy of the hand to hand fighting manual ‘Get Tough’ here. Dated or not, these are the only manuals on self defence you will ever need.

Authors note; if you’ve seen it in the movies, it probably won’t work. Screen fighting is not real fighting. Even Jet Li fakes it.

This is where the line between survivor or victim lies. Choosing to play dirty for your life. Because when push comes to shove, yours is the only one that matters. May you, gentle reader, never have to make that choice for real.

Update:
Have a listen to Geoff Thompson (Thanks Bucko) on violence.

A visual treat

As a lover of ‘hard’ sci-fi, every so often you come across stuff that tweaks a nerve. This offering from Artifex studios had me riveted. Although while one of the scenes was playing I was a bit irritated at the Astronauts reactions to an emergency. Why the hell did he not have his freaking helmet on?

Verdict; could have been a little better with more realistic performances. In that I mean less overt emotion, not more, a more stunned reaction at the end, a little evidence of disorientation maybe. Overall, very, very well done indeed. Almost, but not quite great. Adam Stern is definitely a director to watch. Just needs a bit more nuance and he’ll have it bagged and tagged.

Certainly beats a lot of the rather second rate stuff appearing on NetFlix.

Social death

Facebook is hurt. Badly hurt. 30 points down and falling as of 28th March.
See my screenshot taken on the 23rd, a mere five days ago.

Yes I know one is for over the last twelve months, the other for the last three, but neither paint a pretty picture. I have a feeling that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is just the tip of a very big problem-berg. Over the next few months I can see a larger loss en-route, as in shit, fan, incoming! Perhaps a complete collapse. Who knows? It’s like watching a run on a poorly funded bank.

While this is all very entertaining in the median term, it may blow over, it may not. Facebook may survive, but it is what I’d describe as a ‘Castle in the Air’ stock. Looks pretty, but has no real fiscal security, as like one of the fairy fortresses, the only thing that keeps Facebook going is the power of belief.

Elon Musk (To name but one) has pulled his companies out of Facebook and there’s a class action in the offing. As far as some of the other tech giants go, Alphabet, parent company of YouTube and Google is also suffering with a less drastic 4% fall after accusations of bias, which they strenuously deny, but a number of their users who have had their content demonetised and even deleted aren’t convinced. Amazon may be worth a punt though, as their share value has taken a hit. But they actually sell real things, so I’d view them as a fairly safe bet and treat the current downturn as a buying opportunity for their stock.

Facebook on the other hand, what do they have to sell, apart from their users data? Twitter likewise. Which begs another question. Where will all the Twatter outrage mobs go if the platform collapses? Will they suddenly find themselves suffering a form of electronic social death? Mmm. Couldn’t happen to a nastier bunch of people.

Talking of social death, the institutional antisemitism endemic within the UK Labour party has surfaced once again. This is no surprise to me, as every extreme left winger I’ve ever met has been a racist anti-Semite. Never understood it myself. I think the only half way sane reason must be that extreme left (and right) wingers are avidly pro big government and the Zionists are big on family. The family (A very human, grass roots institution) and big government (Big state, top down driven) are philosophically opposed. The big government people see the family as the biggest obstacle to their authoritarian utopian fantasies, so to their mind anyone who has a strong family as the basis of of their culture must be undermined and if need be, eliminated.

Well it makes sense to me.

Tool blaming

Watching the impassioned “March for Our Lives” anti-gun crusade currently hogging US headlines with vague amusement. According to the surprisingly well-funded and organised teenagers (Organised teenagers? wTF?), all guns are bad and the NRA is the scapegoat. As if an NRA member pulled the trigger. Or as if NRA members are responsible for the routine gang shootings in LA and Chicago. Or Vancouver BC, Canada.

What, Vancouver Canada? Oh, didn’t you know? In January and February 2018 there were eight (I think) fatal shootings in the Metro Vancouver area alone. And we have much tougher gun laws than anywhere in the USA. You do have to jump serious hoops to get a gun licence north of the 49th parallel, but it’s not impossible and any legal gun owner is heavily restricted on how any guns, especially handguns, are moved. However, it’s not the legal gun owners that are the problem.

In every mass shooting it’s always an unbalanced individual that does the killing with firearms that don’t belong to them. So simply banning a particular weapon will not reduce the risk of bloody murder, simply move it downstream to serial killer territory. The impulse to kill will still be there and cannot be removed simply by means of banning guns, or knives, or trucks. Or even large pointy rocks and sticks.  School shootings won’t be ended by banning guns.  The killers will simply use other means.

Or even banning online swearing. Like Microsoft will be doing across all their online platforms including Skype and Microsoft’s cloud services from May 1st. Which will be a bit of a bugger for people who write the dialogue for a number of popular TV shows where ‘Fuck’ gets said a lot. Oh, like Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire. No saying that Windows 10 is a bag of shite either. Even if it is.

Imagine a world where you can’t let off steam with a good swear-fest occasionally without being permanently banned from public discourse. Where you can’t call idiots out for the shitheads they are because that is ‘hate speech’. Well friends, it’s nearly here so you won’t have to tax your imagination that much.

Well, Tech stocks are tumbling and the only way is down. I’ll miss Skype. But there are other platforms up and coming which will do the trick. The genie is out of the bottle and the censorious will only damage themselves trying to put it back in.

Anyway, here’s a blast from the past about dystopian futures and swearing.

Oh dearie me

… I missed the pointless farce called ‘Earth Hour’ yet again. It’s still a bit parky outside, so switching off the heating wasn’t going to prove anything but the gullibility of the switchers off. Light a candle? I often do, but only for the ambiance. I’m not dumb enough to think that candle light is good enough to read by, or that shivering in the dark is a way of promoting responsible environmentalism.

Last night around ten, we’d just finished watching season 7 of Game of Thrones with it’s rather chilly finale when I picked up my Tablet and got a notification. “Oh, Earth hour? That foolishness.” I thought as I dismissed it. “Don’t they know all the big activist outrage is in gun control this week?” Some people, eh?

On the topic of Interweb money and gun control, YouTube is probably going to be the next stock to nosedive. Fortunately I’ve pulled all my investments out of those side of things, taken my profits and put the cash to work elsewhere. If, as seems likely, YouTube are going to delete any content and channels about guns and military stuff, it means they’ll delete whole channels and in the process leave nothing but funny cat video’s until the Animal Rights activists get round to denouncing those as ‘cruel’ and get them deleted and banned. Maybe YouTube are hoping all the faux-outrage will blow over and it will be business as usual by the start of April so the new guidelines won’t have to be implemented.

The fallout will be telling. I foresee YouTube and Google owner Alphabet’s stock price taking a big, big hit. They’ve already damaged their brand by going after even moderate content creators who are critical of certain policies. This should make many advertisers realise that YouTube is effectively becoming worthless as a platform. End result; fewer advertisers, less revenue, Youtube shrinks and all their flash corporate HQ offices go off into the electronic unknown with the content creators. Such is life.

Update: Well, as far as content is concerned I’ve signed up for Bitchute, which I will be using far more often.

Business as usual

Summer trip is mostly booked. London, (For Mrs S) UK Midlands (For me) then on to Copenhagen for the second week in July followed by Amsterdam and a little town not far from Beziers, South of France. Flights and accommodation are all paid for and I’ve just put the credit card in the freezer to let it cool down a bit.

We’re planning also to go back to Australia next year for a probable wedding of Eldest and current boyfriend. He’s a steady lad, Engineer by trade working long term in Oz. He can even cook and has a green thumb. He’s Irish too, so that’s a quadruple plus. Tell you the truth, we knew about Eldest and Boyfriend as only parents can when we were in Sydney over Christmas. It was fairly obvious because when two people have decided, even unconsciously that they’re right for each other, there’s a look in the eye you can’t really miss, their faces shine and they’re so relaxed and unselfconscious whenever they’re together. So, that’s settled then. I hope.

Anyway, that’s for the future. This Summer we’re off to visit Youngest in jolly old Londinium while I do some long overdue familial fence mending oop norf of Brum. There are conversations I need to have to straighten things out while the opportunity still remains. It’ll take three days, no more. There’s also a legal matter to round off that I can only do in person. Family business, you know how it is. It’s an emotionally charged situation and I just have to man up and do the necessary.

Talking of business, I see Farcebook shares are in a steep nosedive, losing over 5% of their hyped up value following the Cambridge Analytica allegations. Facebook share price fall to 23rd MarchMy broker suggested I invest in them last year, but I gave him a firm ‘No’. Like with Bitcoin, if you weren’t in on the ground floor, don’t bother. The price is no good for any significant buy in, and Farcebook, at least from this investors perspective, is going nowhere, fast. Their market share and user base is stagnant and shrinking. Even a fool like me can read the writing on the wall. My personal account has been dead and deleted for over seven years. Twice. And I have always resisted linking any of my other personal and professional data to Farcebook. So any data ‘mined’ is out of date and therefore worthless. I am not the only one. My kids have moved on and no-one seems to use it but spammers and the hopeless.

Elsewhere on the Interweb there are issues raised over privacy, boredom and even prosecutions (WTF!?) for rather lame jokes that ‘offend’ people. Look, if you’re that easily offended, step away from the keyboard. Don’t watch YouTube. Go out into the world and do something useful. Hashtag #growapair. As for the UK Police, oh for heavens sake, don’t you have any real crime to deal with? Yes you do. Chasing down all these petty complaints is just wasting Police time.

Personally I think that with the recent conviction of a notorious YouTube prankster for a spurious ‘hate crime’ there’s been a real case of perverting the course of justice. Which is as good an argument as I’ve heard for repealing the hate crime legislation passed by the idiotic Blair Government. Same as over here with M-103 and C-16. Policing what people say or think (Providing they don’t belong to a protected and therefore ‘privileged’ group) is idiotic. Slander and libel are civil matters which are sufficient to cover insult. Making them criminal offences just pisses many people off because no-one can tippy-toe round another’s imagined petty grievances all the time. It’s corrosive to the spirit to duck every time some bonehead with a large plank on their shoulder turns around. Better that they should fix their own inner problems and get on with life instead of looking for slight and insult around every corner.

In closing, trying to read between the lines of all the BREXIT op-eds in the FT is making me a bit twitchy too. The ‘negotiations’ seem to be giving away far too much to the undemocratic Eurocrats and securing too little in return. However, Sterling isn’t doing so badly, so I’ll have a look at the state of play at the end of the month before making further commitments. At this moment in time, Sterling is on the up so I’ll hang with it until there’s a possible shift in the market.

Hey-ho. Business as usual.

Froody pron

Recently I’ve been experimenting with that illicit foodstuff, not generally available in Canada. A staple of my UK midlands upbringing. A small guilty pleasure I first encountered in a younger, more innocent time. If food were sex, this would be the knee trembler up an alley after closing time. Quick and deliciously dirty. Feeding an immediate appetite that nothing else can quite touch. A foodstuff designed to make middle class busybody heads explode.

I refer of course to that excellent British delicacy, Pork scratchings, for which I have developed my own so easy to do even-I-can-do-it recipe. This is a dish said busybodies would ban if they could. An ideal accompaniment to beer or ale it is not low salt, low fat or politically correct, but a taste Gods would create from raw firmament if they could.

All you will need is the pork rind most supermarket butchers insist on removing from their pork joints. Why, I have no idea. For best results this should have at least around a quarter inch of pork fat on the inner surface or it just goes all leathery. Pork rind is cheap as well. I can pick it up by the kilo for just a couple of bucks. Over here it’s sold by Chinese owned supermarkets, because they at least appreciate the value of the whole pig, which is an animal venerated in Chinese folklore.

Simply spread your skin (Skin side up of course) on a baking tray, score like with ordinary pork crackling.  I have a dedicated craft, Stanley type blade for this specific purpose.  Give a thorough oiling with a splodge of any old cooking oil, then throw salt on it. About a teaspoon. Rub evenly.  Then add ground black pepper to taste. Heat oven to 420 Fahrenheit, 220 Celsius (200 for a fan oven) or gas mark 7. Put in prepared skin and wander off for forty minutes while it bakes and crisps up like pork crackling. Take out and leave to cool. Break off a piece. Eat, enjoy. and whatever you do, don’t feel guilty. Because guilt is a means of control and when it comes to control, that’s for other people. The rest of us can have pork scratchings and I know which I prefer.

Froody.

Catching up

Right, I’m back. sort of. At the moment. We’ve been booking flights for a trip to Europe this Summer. London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and the Sarf ‘a France. Current booking progress is flights to Amsterdam, London and Copenhagen sorted. We have places to rest our travelworn heads of a night and I’m looking at an apartment to rent somewhere in the Narbonne / Beziers area, away from the overpriced areas of Nice and Monaco to ride the French back roads in a small hire car this July. Although we might shoehorn in a day trip to cruise past Juan-le-Pins and join the holiday traffic jams along the coast road through Cannes. Or maybe not. My thoughts are for the majestic fortress of Carcasonne and perhaps the rose granite of Toulouse. I’ve never been a one to lie on a beach all day, then dance the night away despite severe sunburn. My pleasures nowadays are more cerebral.

Talking of which, I’ve just bought a copy of Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for life” that I’m working my way through in small doses. He’s a little biblical for my tastes, but his recounting of 1970’s Alberta rural Teenage life is interesting. I see parallels with my own mis-spent youth, but more from the perspective of one of his stoner ex-friends. The alienation and nihilism he describes are all familiar territory. Because we were repeatedly told that nuclear annihilation were just minutes away we fell in love with the idea of a short licentious life. Or perhaps we grew to love the glamour of death. I cannot say. All I know is that I am one of four from our little peer group still breathing, that I know of. Actuarial tables, eh? Who knew how prophetic they were.

It’s easy, reading Peterson’s work, to dream of a life that could have been. Had we not swallowed the lie of the ‘live fast, die young’ era. So many of us did. Die young that is. We saw the writing on the air and took the singers at their word, believing we had no better choices when we did.

We were told we would be free. Free of what? Free of constraint, of fear? Or perhaps of a life we felt ill-equipped to succeed in. We said we did not fear the reaper, but that did not stop him coming for so many of us. And despite our affected worldliness we knew so little of it. Most of my contemporaries got to see so little of this big wide planet before they were laid beneath the sod. Daisy pushing seemed to be looking like a competitive sport among us during the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Am I saying I regret those years, my foolish days, the wild times? Yes and no. Without them I would not appreciate what I now have. Family, a few friends, a relatively good life. A few things ticked off the old bucket list. It hasn’t been so bad so far. However, Peterson’s book raises the age old question; what would I have done differently? Quite a few things. Not all of them moral or ‘nice’. Most of them to settle scores. Others for my own gratification. And others which might have made me a happier, wealthier man. Others not, but we can all be wise in hindsight.

On the whole I’d say Peterson’s book is for those just starting out in life, unsure of where to go. Because it gives you a bloody useful walkaround all those difficult questions such as “Who do I want to be?” or “Does anything I want to do with my life matter?” The questions we all instinctively know the answers to, but can’t bring ourselves to believe the answers are that simple. Be born, live, love, breed, mentor, guide and die.

Expatriate expostulations from wherever; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad trying to stay in the middle of the road without getting run over.

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