Tag Archives: Local stuff

A thunderingly good day

While the world goes to hell, the prissy ‘ban everything’ brigade continually interferes in the lives of ordinary people, politicians build follies based on flawed ideas, agents provocateurs and their proxies burn embassies and threaten others in a kind of proxy warfare (Er, how come they burned the US Embassy when the movie was made by an Egyptian?), what was I doing?

Not much.

I went fishing.

Bugger it, this world gets crazier. News of the insanity delivered by dramatically breathless news anchors in irritatingly jump cut and superficial coverage. Media coverage is increasingly like a sandwich which is all bread and no filling. All emotion and no logic. I hate it for the warped picture of the world it delivers, and don’t watch if I can help it.

Yes, I went fishing. Took some local advice and went to my favourite pile of rocks at the waters edge with a set of small hooks and spinners. Set for another three or four fruitless hours of what I’m often given to describe as ‘casting practice’. While I’m there I watch the Seals, seabirds, Blue Heron, Sea Lions, Otters, Eagles, and occasional Orca. It’s peaceful. I don’t mind not catching anything. You have time to think.

No one bothers a fisherman. An armed mob of headhunters with machetes will ignore a man intent on fishing. Well, they might stop and politely enquire if he’s caught anything yet, but then rampage on. Said putative mob might even pause to watch and cheer if the fisherman caught something while they were watching. Unless it was a mob from a bunch of animal rights hypocrites, in which case the fisherman would be first on the list.

Yesterday the fish were biting. Every cast. Every single, wonderful, mother loving cast. Only young Smallmouth Bass, but they’re spunky little fighters and fun, fun, fun. Caught a few, threw them all back. Ran out of bait with a happy heart for all the sport they gave me. As sunset was colouring the rocks of Link Island a dusky Martian pink I tipped my hat to the Water Gods in thanks and began the mile long scramble back home over logjams and rocks. I had a thundering good day.

Sometimes you have to say “FTW” (Number 3) and have what fun you can.

No I’m not telling you where it is. Because after I’ve been to the store this morning to get some fresh bait and a couple of spinners I will be back there. With a big grin on my face. Up tide and down. Yeah.

Smart meter gossip

Wonder if anyone from Florida can assist on this one. One of my contacts within the local power utility was overheard saying something about ‘Smart meters’ being removed from various premises in that state. They weren’t specific on the reasons, and of course it’s purely tech gossip and therefore not to be trusted as gospel, but are there any locales where the not-so-smart meters are actually not going in due to local opposition / operational difficulties? Or even where they are being removed?

The local meter readers don’t seem to be being laid off Like they were when this whole business began, and indeed appear busier than ever.

There are all sorts of rumours flying around about the so-called ‘smart grids’ not having a snowballs chance in hell of going fully operational because important decisions have been made for political and aspirational reasons rather than technical feasibility. Unverified, but all the same…

That’s all I know for certain right now, but I am starting to hear metaphorical wheels squeaking from all the backpedaling going on in the background. Very interesting…. Pity it’s eaten up so much taxpayer subsidy in these straitened times.

Thou shalt…not

Since we’ve been in Canada, Mrs S and I always get a shock to the system every time we skip back across the water to visit friends and family. Canada may be one of the more highly regulated places this side of the world, but there’s none of this nitpicking day to day micromanagement that goes on in the old country. Apart from the various smoking bans in restaurants and bars, which everyone fails to get too stressed about. You want to smoke? Sure buddy, over there. Just not here, okay? I’ve yet to see any of the hand waving hysteria that gets reported in the UK.

For example, no self respecting coffee shop over here would dream of not offering cream with coffee simply because it’s suddenly become ‘company policy’ for some strange and arbitrary reason (EU regulations. no doubt).

Pharmacies over here don’t refuse to sell non prescription items, even if they aren’t usually on the shelves. To be succinct, I’m on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet regime to shed a few pounds. 1) Because I like it, and 2) Because it guarantees the weight loss without the cravings. Now one of the little monitoring tools used to regulate this diet are called Ketostix, reagent strips used to measure ketones in the urine. Ketostix are not a drug, they won’t hurt you even if you chew through an entire package, and they are only used as a urine monitoring device, rather like a pregnancy test kit.

Last time we were in the UK, despite their non-prescription status, several large outlet ‘pharmacists’ (Unqualified minimum wage shop assistants in white coats) refused to sell Ketiostix to us, stating that it was ‘company policy’. “Yes, but who will you sell them to?” We asked.
“Diabetics.” The answer came back. “If they have a prescription.”
“But Ketostix don’t need a prescription, and how do you know we’re not diabetics who’ve left our documents at home?.”
“Ah, but it’s company policy not to sell them to anyone but Diabetics with a prescription.” Said the pharmacy assistant.
“Why?” I asked. “What else do you refuse to sell because it’s company policy?” I snarled as a parting shot, and did not wait for an answer before wandering round the corner to a more traditional pharmacy where the request; “I’d like to buy some Ketostix.”
Was met with a cheery. “Here you are sir.” And money changed hands for goods. Sorted. All smiles. Job done.
Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart and couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelves, so I asked one of the Pharmacy Assistants. “Sure. Have an awesome day.” She said, handing over the Ketostix. Big genuine smile, friendly eye contact. You don’t get those in the UK either.

We don’t have the silly 16 tablet pack maximum restrictions on Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Paracetomol) either. I could go on, but upon reflection the majority of you voted for Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and the EU, and will keep on voting for the same old, same old, so you’ll get no sympathy from me.

At this point the line from Tommy, the Who’s 1969 Rock Opera pops into my head;
“You’ve been told many times before,”
“Messiah’s pointing to the door,”
“But no one has the guts to leave the Temple………”

Canadian wine

Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Wine in the land of the frozen north? Bill, are you taking the piss? Oddly enough no. Mildly irreverent and contemptuous of fools as ever, but no piss taking.

When Mrs S and I first made the jump over to this side of the pond I secretly wondered if I would ever taste a reasonable wine vintage again. At least nothing that was not Australian, New Zealand, a Chardonnay, which is not my favourite grape variety, or hideously expensively imported French. However, it is with significant pleasure I can report that there are some quite reasonable, even remarkable, wines springing full blown from the Okanagan valley. Even at the budget end of the market ($14-20 a bottle).

Although I make no claims to have an educated wine tasters or epicures palate, I do know what is drinkable, and would like to share my top nine vineyards and most liked wines (in no particular order) with whomsoever cares to visit this blog. To set my baseline; I like wines with a pleasant bouquet and nicely rounded flavours that leave little or no aftertaste.

Mission Hill: 2010 Viognier, 2009 Pinot Noir
Quails Gate: 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve
Volcanic Hills: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Mt Boucherie: 2011 Pinot Gris, 2010 Gamay Noir
St Hubertus: 2010 Pinot Blanc
Cedar Creek: 2011 Pinot Gris
Gray Monk: 2011 Siegerrebe, 2010 Auxerrois
Intrigue: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Ex Nihilo: 2010 Pinot Noir

Best red: Quails Gate’s 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve. No question. By a country mile. Superb. Close second was Mt Boucherie’s 2010 Gamay Noir. Light and nicely balanced.
Best white: A tie between the subtly perfumed but eminently quaffable Gray Monk 2011 Siegerrebe, Cedar Creeks clean and rounded 2011 Pinot Gris and Mission Hill’s perfectly suppable 2010 Viognier. Honourable mention to St Hubertus Pinot Blanc.

We have tasted and purchased bottles of all the above wines and look forward to making suitable occasions to drink them. Did try an Ice Wine, but only one and did not purchase any so any comparison would not be fair. I would also like to mention that no Rose’s were tasted in the writing of this blog.

About the vineyards we visited: Some awards.

Bill Sticker Prize for most impressive goes without contest to Mission Hill. Their open air restaurant is superb and the staff a delight. Beautifully styled grounds. Architecturally stunning.
Bill Sticker Prize for most intimate: This is a toughie, but after due consideration I’d recommend Mt Boucherie. Smallest wine shop, but really worth a visit. Close run second; St Hubertus.
Bill Sticker Low Bullshit Quotient award: St Hubertus. No fancy talk. Small gift shop. Will go again. No question.

Downside: Being charged $5 for tasting three less than impressive wines.
Upside: Incredible views and some surprisingly sippable vintages.

We only managed to visit about sixteen vineyards, but were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of most. There were few disappointments (No names, no pack drill, but SBML knows who I mean), and places I wouldn’t visit again, but they are not mentioned in this post. As for the mentioned; fill your boots. They’re good. Even to a tyro with a Biryani ravaged palate like mine.

There are vineyards we didn’t visit simply because of time pressure. Which means, oh dearie me, heavy sigh, we’ve got to go back there at some stage. Life’s a bitch, eh?

Anyone with me?

Took a break over to Canadian wine growing country in Kelowna earlier this week and had a rather grown up time sampling the local nectars.  Canadian wine is growing up fast, and Okanagan wines are improving rapidly.

However, this is not the point of my post.  Today’s little gripe is about the noise levels in bars and restaurants.  Unlike many, my life has its own soundtrack, which is muted and inclined towards pleasant conversation and listening.  To this end I’m running out of places I want to spend my money, specifically bars and restaurants.   Two nights ago I went into a fairly upmarket waterfront place and almost walked straight out again because the owner and staff seemed to want to work in a Disco.  The staff were great; attentive and pleasant.  The food was reasonable Canadian fare.  Not up to French standards, but that’s another story.

Call me an old fart if you like, but I like to be able to hear myself think when I go out for a meal.  I like not to have to strain in order to hear what my server is saying as they reel off the list of ‘specials’ in that delightfully practiced way of North American restaurants and diner staff.  I like not having to raise my voice to be heard over the ‘Thump-thump-thump’ of some dumb fuck headed rap number making the air pulse in my delicate shell likes.   I like conversation and good company over the artificial noise some people need to keep their brains from working.

Are there any restaurateurs out there who can justify deluging our ears with a torrent of crap on the false premise that it creates ‘ambiance’?  Just let me know the name of your establishment and I solemnly promise never to darken your doorstep or spend my money there.  Please communicate; I’m sure there are a lot of others who would like to do the same.

I would wear earplugs like HM the Queen at the Paralympics opening ceremony, but then I would be unable to hear what my dinner companions are saying, and that would be impolite.

More changes to the point of view.

Have made a few alterations to the look of the blog. Comments and such are on the front page now, but you`ll have to scroll way down to the bottom as with this theme there is no room for sidebars. I did toy with the idea of an animated header, but that would have been a little over the top, even for me.

Stepdaughters are on their travels shortly. One back to blighty to complete legal studies, the other to Africa, and thence to Australia to work. We`re subbing them out of course, and they are staying with friends and family, so no rent and food bills etc. We`ll get the payback in later years, seeing them comfortably ensconced in good careers. Not that this will be appreciated, but that`s my cynicism for you. There it is! I was wondering where it had gone!

No doubt they will have many travelers tales to recount about the long wait at immigration at Heathrow and how many times they were searched on the way to see certain events at the London Olympics. Not that I`d go myself, worked there for a few years and had a bellyful. Sure the money`s not bad, but quite frankly I`d rather bed down in a nest of rattlesnakes. However, we all have to learn for ourselves.

The sun is taking a rest break behind clouds for the next four days, which will give my sunburn time to turn into tan. The pool is covered and there is work to do.

Summer!

In contrast to last years relative washout, I am happy to confirm that Summer is here in BC. The outdoor pool has seen use while Mrs S and I were up in the mountains, and the outlook is for blue skies and a steady 25-31 degrees Celsius. Huzzah! About time too. The seemingly near constant rain was really getting on my nerves.

Now before any clever clogs claims this period of warmer weather is indicative of globule warming (climate change – whatever), and we are all still doomed, I’d like to point out that studies from San Francisco and Mainz in Germany (See articles in The Register and Wattsupwiththat) have conclusively ‘decoupled’ Carbon dioxide and climate. Man made or not. So back to the drawing board, scaremongers!

The studies, drawn from ocean sediment cores as proxies and more reliable data than a single tree from Yamal, indicate cooling over the past 2000 years. To quote the Stark family saying from ‘Game of Thrones’, “Winter is coming.” But not yet. Not for a long time. So don’t panic.

Porch life

While we are graced with my Mother in Laws august presence (Think Albert Steptoe in drag but unable to do anything for herself apart from whine), I find myself increasingly exiled to the deck to write. Only another twenty nine days Bill, hang in there. You can do this.

We’re fortunate that we selected a house with a large covered external area (about four and a half metres by six) to live in, so I find myself sitting in the shade with my laptop on a sunny morning waiting for the kettle to boil. The nurse we’ve hired to bathe MiL once a week is giving her a good wash, Mrs S is off picking up some copy from a client for me to rehack and the dog is getting hyper about every jackrabbit that wanders into the yard. There’s just a smidge of a chilly edge in the breeze making it uncomfortable to work in shorts and t-shirt for more than an hour, but otherwise quite pleasant. Not bad for the first of May. We’ve even taken to calling this part of the deck our ‘outside office’.

In spite of a forecast for rain showers, the local weather is currently sunny with a modicum of high cloud. Our local pair of Bald Eagles have shoved off somewhere to please themselves, and there is the far off sound of a ride on mower chugging its way round a neighbours yard, the odd passing pickup, and occasionally a float plane or scheduled flight on its way to or from Vancouver. Otherwise it’s just me and the odd Hummingbird.

My one current regret is that we didn’t come here ten years ago.

Update:
Well woger me wigid! It’s bloody hailing! Oh, it’s stopped. That was a fun five minutes, I was wondering what the roaring noise was.

A mere rifling

A couple of work buddies and myself are awaiting the final demise of the long gun registry before rejoining the local fish & game club as shooting members. I’m looking at something like a bolt action Browning 30-06 and possibly a pump action 12 gauge for hunting in general. I’d keep them at the club for range practice of course, as the tacit agreement is that we’ll only fit out one of our trucks with a decent lock box for the guns and ammunition.

My general preference is for a bow, but what with it looking like another damp summer in western BC (Although I really hope I’m wrong), bowhunting is no fun with a damp bowstring. That and a halfway decent shotgun and fifty rounds of solid rifled shot costs less than a modest sixty pound draw recurve, twelve arrows and six broadhead tips. Several local friends (All well respected people) have agreed to support my application for a firearms license. Which I think is jolly decent of them. In the meantime, I shall be renewing my salt water fishing license, and going to spend some quality time standing the rocks with my rod in hand, casting my cares upon the waters and watching the Seals, Sea Lions, Otters, and if I’m really lucky, the odd passing Orca or even some Pacific White sided Dolphins passing by. There’s been some rather unpleasant windstorms of late, with trucks and cars almost bisected by falling trees, and I’m getting a bit twitchy for some sunshine.

It’s been a stressful few months, what with visiting family and all making demands on my time, and I really need a decent time out to recharge the old spiritual batteries. Never mind, Spring is almost here, and the buds are beginning to break. I shall feel happier when the Birch and Maple are in full leaf.

The writing on the wall

Locally we have our own downtown ‘occupy’ encampment which I passed through on my way to the library. This actually had me wishing I’d brought my camera along to take a few pictures of the real writing on the wall because otherwise no-one would believe me.

Prominently amidst all the calls for revolution and the violent demise of the ‘Banksters’ (Gangster Bankers) there were anti-AGW (Calling Global Warming a ‘Lie’) and more predictably anti-HST slogans. There were slogans calling for a more people centric government, and that ‘Big Government’ was the enemy of the people, and corporatism denounced as the enemy of small business. Oddly enough, all of which I found somewhat reassuring. Reassuring that I wasn’t the only one to think this way, and also hopeful that not everyone at the demonstration has their idealogical blinkers on. There is common ground.

I feel oddly optimistic. Perhaps (At least locally) the protestors do represent the 99% after all.

A small act of rebellion

See picture below. This just under the external electricity meter for our little domicile. The notice below was posted there by our landlord.

These notices have been appearing all over BC. According to some sources at as many as one in 12-15 households. Gossip has it that Bill Van Der Zalm, ex Provincial Premier, is just one of the many voices behind this campaign, including the Greens oddly enough (As ‘Smart Meters’ are supposed to be a ‘Green’ power solution). Rumours also abound about the Meters reliability and safety.

Gossip has it that the Corix installers are instructed to leave meters or premises with this notice on alone.

Gossip has it that BC Hydro, when the rollout of ‘Smart Meters’ is complete, will cut off the electricity supply of any premises that do not have a ‘Smart Meter’ installed.

Gossip also has it that BC Hydro has only three people in the entire Province capable of fixing ‘Smart Meters’ if they go wrong. Apparently they fired the rest.

Word is that the threats are baseless, and premises will not be disconnected, as legal challenges are already prepared to hit the courts.

Now as far as the health concerns go, I’m of the mind that they are baseless and with about as much credence as the ‘Cell phone radiation causes Cancer’. However, I personally am opposed to the idea of Smart Meters on purely economic and Health and Safety grounds. Some of the models being installed have had issues with overheating, and there is a very real fire risk. Especially where wood frame building methods are the norm. On economic grounds because BC Hydro are reported to have doubled or tripled the electricity bills of premises equipped with Smart Meters. On the basis that this will increase my rent and other base living costs for no good reason, I am further opposed to the installation of Smart Meters.

Despite the growing opposition, the current BC leadership have brushed off dissenting voices as being of the tinfoil hat persuasion. Yet the opposition grows. If I was the current BC leadership, I’d be looking for a fallback strategy over this issue, because this is how they lost the HST referendum. It may well be how they lose the next Provincial and Federal Elections.

Whatever happens, it’s going to get really interesting really quickly. Log store topped up, propane tank full, generator ready……

Update: The head of BC Hydro has just resigned, seemingly over political interference from the Provincial Government. Well, well, well.

A short interlude

Not really the time or inclination to blog recently. The awful reality is that an old family friend is, not to put too fine a point on it, dying. Cause; Mesothelioma (Cause, Asbestosis) probably contracted as a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. So we’ve been spending quite a bit of our free time visiting, doing the shopping, running other errands for his wife (Who doesn’t drive) and reading to him, as he’s too weak to hold a book.

Nothing too strenuous, just a bit of Kipling, Frost, Robert Service. The more ribald the better. Although I have to tone the funny stuff down sometimes as the poor chap’s only got half a lung left, possibly less according to his Doctor. I don’t want him to die laughing because of something I said or did. Not that laughing is such a bad way to go, but I don’t think I could forgive myself if I was the cause. Besides, he and his wife helped us a lot when first we arrived in Canada, so we feel that we have a bit of a moral debt to discharge, and too little time remaining to do it in.

Considering the life the man has had; WW2 saw two of the ships he was on torpedoed and sunk; Distinguished Service Order; lost in the Arctic for ten days while surveying for Decca radar, travelled trans Canada any number of times with a Radar training unit. Yes, he is a ‘real’ person, and when he dies I will publish a link to his obituary if it’s available online. Although for our old family friend I think that’s pretty much certain, and if not I’ll bloody write it myself. Such people should not slip from memory so readily. They are too rare.

Watching someone die slowly is not exactly my favourite pursuit, so to lighten my glumness (and Mrs S’s), I’ve been scouring the Interweb for ‘cheer-us-up’ recipe’s. Stap me if I didn’t hit paydirt. Perfect chip batter in a simple, quick and easy recipe. See the youtube clip below. Just tried it out on Snapper and Pacific Cod fillets, and believe me, the result is light, tasty portions so easy even I can get it right every time. Much better than store bought, and rivalling most chip shop batter I’ve tasted. Try it for yourself.

Don’t forget, the water should be properly chilled and the mix thoroughly whisked for lightness. With only a handful of decent Chip shops on the Island, sometimes the DIY method is the only way.

Meanwhile…….

Over here on Vancouver Island…..

In a meeting this afternoon I introduced myself as ‘The token Englishman’. Good meeting, lots of ground covered. Stuff organised without fuss and bother. People have heard my accent and diplomatically tiptoed away from the subject of wall to wall riot reports.


This evening Mrs S and I went to see ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ a Spielberg Sci-fi / Western / Horror romp. In the queue outside one of our two local multiplexes we took our place in line, only to be handed a free two for one ticket by a complete stranger. Not a promo worker, just someone who had saved up a bunch of special offers and handed them out to the queue. So we had the added bonus of getting in half price. Enjoyed the movie thoroughly with Mrs S hanging tightly onto my arm during the shlocky bits where the monsters almost leap out of the screen at you.

Walked outside, in the middle of town with the highway less than a hundred metres away. You know what? Without a siren in earshot. Not a Cop, a Fire Engine or Ambulance. The traffic barely a whisper. In the car park there was no discord. No shouting, no arguments, just a little far off good natured joshing between friends. Even in my relatively quiet town of origin in England that would almost be unthinkable. Every day was punctuated with sirens of one sort or another.

There are days on this Earth, in this locale, with the neighbours and space we have, that it seems like this part of Vancouver Island is the place God comes to chill with the locals on his time off. Although I’m sure some selfish self-entitled tosser will try and ruin it at some stage. But for the moment we have peace. I intend to savour it while it lasts.

How to solve the ‘obesity crisis’

In my daily round I do see a great many people, who, not to put too fine a point on it, need to shed a few pounds. Although I’ve always been painfully aware of my own tendency to hang on to excess weight, and not being twenty one any more, have to work much harder to get rid of the unwanted extra me. So I’m a little more cautious than many to go flinging the terms ‘blubberino’ or making pointed remarks about great white whales, or going into a frothing diatribe about heart disease and arteries so furred up they cost the health service ‘billions’. Glass houses and stones having their own small compatibility issues. Although nowhere near so much as the cases in point.

Nonetheless, on my daily round a couple of days ago, I was walking up the street behind two such sidewalk blockers and found myself wondering why they had laterally grown to the size they had. Casual observation gave no clues, and in the case of the two in question, this being the town it is, everybody knows somebody. You don’t have to be a detective to find out most things about others who cross your path. I’d seen the people concerned before and a friend had made comment that the two in question were well known as serial dieters who hawkishly watched each and every calorie that passed their lips in case it did something vaguely reckless.

After hearing a number of similar stories, I found myself thinking that maybe the calories themselves were innocent, but the people’s restricted physical mobility might be the key issue. Canadians living as they do, they travel a lot, and some walk a lot (And I do mean a lot), and others don’t. Many people spend so much effort at work, that at the end of the day all they want to do is slump down on a sofa and veg out half watching television.

One of the things I’ve noticed about those who are, let’s say, more than a little over the limit weight wise, are big watchers of TV. It’s how they ‘relax’. Soaps, dramas, talent shows, what passes for news, sports etc. On the whole, and I know this is one of those awful broad brushstroke statements, they are passive absorbers of the world. This being the case, it might be said that Television, that great thief of time, might be the root of the current ‘obesity crisis’ various well meaning control freaks and politicians are always berating everybody about.

Having ditched the old one eyed monster over five years ago, I find that anything over half an hours exposure soporific, so how some people can sit there for hours in front of the idiot box is beyond me. I’m increasingly of the opinion that such long periods of inactivity, vacuously drinking in the dreams of others, actually contributes to packing on the poundage, and some serious people think the same. To quote this article;

According to William H. Deitz, pediatrician and prominent obesity expert at Tufts University School of Medicine, “The easiest way to reduce inactivity is to turn off the TV set. Almost anything else uses more energy than watching TV.”

Of course there are many other sources that say the same things in a similar way. So there you have it. The answer to the great conundrum of increasing obesity in the Western world; Television. Cut the channels down to broadcasting between four o’clock in the afternoon to say eleven o’clock at night and we may find the ‘obesity crisis’ simply disappears as people begin to get lives. No need for ‘five a day’ or ‘eat healthy’ TV campaigns or for healthy eating activists to chain themselves to the doors of fast food eateries. Simply cull the viewing time available and the ‘problem’ will simply go away. TV’s mostly crap anyway. To repeat this axiom;

“Don’t watch TV. It’s a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.”



Obesity crisis solved! Huzzah! World a much better place, sun shines, birds sing, half hols all round. Well done young William. You’ve saved the day!

Not. Hey, what’s on the other channel? Pass the remote will ya hon? Zzzzzzzzzz….

Playing victimhood poker

I got caught out the other day doing some voluntary work. Actually I was covering for the paid staff’s lunch, which I do as a personal favour, not because I’m asked to.

At the time I made a remark to someone in response to a rather fatuous complaint. “Don’t worry, I’ll pass that one on.” I said in cheerful tones. Honestly, I thought the guy was kidding me by making such a nonsensical remark so my initial response was to blow off his complaint as though it were of no importance. Much to my surprise he came back at me with; “You just insulted me.”
To which my conditioned reflex was; “Wasn’t meant as an insult. I’m sorry you feel that way.” My mental response was a slightly confused ‘where the hell did that one come from?’. Although by then all I saw was his retreating back. Damn! Someone had been playing victimhood poker and I’d been so involved with other thoughts I missed an opening gambit.

Upon reflection I should have trusted the evidence of my own eyes. My accuser moved like someone with poor self esteem. Hunched up shoulders, slightly dragging footsteps and wearing his defensiveness like a shield. If I was security or a copper, he would have flagged up on my ‘Up-to-no-good-ometer’ right away. He acted furtive, if you know what I mean. If asked, I would have said the adjective ‘creepy’ would not have been too far off the mark. A veteran offence seeker like that should have had my mental defences ready with all guns loaded. Fortunately they are so rare in our neck of the woods that I’ve gotten out of practice dealing with such people. Good natured joshing is more usual in our part of Canada.

Notwithstanding, when playing victimhood poker, the idea is to trump the ‘offendedness’ of your opponent by insisting that you are the hurt party. No matter what the complaint against you, you must always claim the other party is actually in the wrong. This is a great game, and if played well can reduce one player to a grovelling apology in three sentences or less, regardless of any fault.

Let me demonstrate by example. Say we have two verbal combatants, Player 1 and Player 2. The game begins when Player 1 claims that their ‘feelings’ have been hurt. The reality of the Player 1‘s claimed offendedness does not matter, as Player 2‘s game objective is to negate present and future offence seeking behaviour. To win, Player 2 at no time should neither raise his/her voice, nor give the vaguest indication of smiling. An expression of indignant ire is a distinct advantage.
Player 1 opens with: “You insulted me!”
Player 2 counters with: “I find that accusation rather offensive.”
Player 1 is forced to fall back on: “But you insulted me!”
Player 2 can now offer: “Please don’t be patronising. I find your attitude vaguely (Player 2 inserts relevant ‘ist’ here). Kindly take your prejudice elsewhere before I call (Enter relevant authority figure here).”
Now this should be a winning gambit, as all Player 2 has to do to win is to insist that Player 1 is acting out of ‘prejudice’ and committing some vague sort of ‘thought crime’. However, it cannot be stressed too strongly that at no time must Player 2 indicate anything but muted moral outrage. Mocking laughter is only permissible after Player 1 is almost (But not quite) out of earshot. Extra points can be earned, should Player 1 return, hotly demanding apology for their ‘hurt’ feelings. At this juncture Player 2 should claim to be laughing at something else that was actually funny, and demand to know why Player 1 is indulging in ‘Offence seeking behaviour’ which Player 2, in his/her turn finds ‘violently offensive’ which Player 1 should immediately apologise for. In its purest form, this game is almost like playing ‘Cheese shop‘ without the Cheese, the shop, or the Monty Python references.

The winner is the first to obtain an apology.

I missed an opportunity like that? Crikey. I must be getting out of practice.