Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bloody breeders ....

Last evening, the kids went with the crumblies to the countryside.

It was all very busy, emotional and kissy-wissy seeing them off. Husband-person and I held hands and waved after them with misty eyes and forlorn faces.

Then the car disappeared around the corner.

"Pub?" said husband shaped person. He was talking to empty air as I sprinted inside to grab my purse.

So we went to Blackheath and entered a den of ill-repute licenced to sell alcoholic beverages etc. Then in a fit of alcohol-inspired bravado, we went to town on the train. Yes, town, out where the single and child-less people go to socialise. We went to Charing Cross blinking in the strange and glamorous street lights and glowing neon signs and trying not too look too surprised when the doorman of a salubrious looking gay underground drinking den actually let us in.

My open-eyed childlike wonder of this alien world soon evaporated when I realised that the reason for the locked door in the loos was related to the fact that couple inside were busily involved in doing the wild thing.

So I put on my best Mummy voice (which is a mixture of Ann Widdicombe and Lauren Bacall) and yelled:
"Get out, you can do that anywhere, I need the toilet NOW!"

..... and tried not to look too amazed when it worked. Out walked a sheepish looking man and woman.

hah, result.

"Disgusting" said a tall Queen behind me. "Where do they think they are?"
"Breeders, eh?" I replied betraying my orientation before I nipped into the cubicle and relieved my immediate need.

So now I am in work thinking unkind things about that last bottle of beer that I just had to have (it was the rotten one of the night) and longing for my bed. Not my bed with a husband-shaped lump in it. What do you think I am? A breeder?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Unrecognised artforms

A study claims that between the ages of 20 and 40 people lose about one friend every year.

Theodore Zeldin, who has spent a lifetime studying friendships, wants to celebrate his 74th birthday with everyone - but only if you promise to have a proper conversation with a stranger.

Professor Zeldin, the president of the Oxford Muse foundation, is a philosopher, historian and public speaker says the idea of friendship has, over the centuries, changed radically and has created a new pressing issue for humanity - the need for real conversation. It is not new lands we need to be discovering but other people's thoughts. "I think we have less and less time for conversation," he says.

I'm amazed by the number of women...who come to me and say 'I just can't find men who are able to talk' . What have we rebelled against? When have we felt isolated? What have been our most difficult conversations?


Now I am sure that the good professor is a very learned man. I am sure he applies experience, studying, reading and thought into all his conclusions.

However the simple fact is; I disagree with him.

I am not a woman who wants men who are able to spew forth on their rebellions, their isolation, their difficult conversations. If I had someone in front of me carrying on like that, I would baulk, walk away and leave them talking to themselves. Therefore, yes I know, creating a new example for their witterings.

The art of smalltalk or "talking shite" (pron. s(w)hite, where the w is silent) is an artform in itself. The willingness to engage in seemingly trivial chatter in person, on the phone or even on IM is something of a gift. One person's ability to pick their subject, add to it and to listen for a reply is worth ten thousand people holding forth meaningfully.

There are two men in a room. You know neither, one talks to you about his lonely years between Maya who left him to run an international hotel chain and Gabrielle who "was lovely, but wasn't Maya". One talks to you about something that was on the telly last night. You go for a drink. Which one do you come back and talk to?

Why, the funnier and better looking one of course.

Professor Zeldin has got it wrong, is it not quality of subject matter than is important to most women. It is the method of presentation and most women do not want heavy subjects delivered to them with a jackhammer. Einstein was clever but the pose that makes the poster was him sticking out his tongue.

He may have concluded and proven that E = mc2 but people remember him more readily for: "If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut" or my own personal favorite: "You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat"

These are deep notions presented trivially, the very essence of talking shite. Contrast Einstein to Freud: "Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent"

Now who would you rather go for a pint with?