2016 minus 35: on being a philistine

Posted: 27 November 2015 in 2016minus

A former boss of mine used to caution folks from speaking in anger.”Make a speech in anger,”, he’d say, “and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever live to regret.” On the whole, I’ve tried to follow that advice and although like others, I often think my writing’s better when I’m angry, it’s not true. It’s just more ‘me’; there’s less of a filter between my fury and the page. 

But sometimes my writing comes from a mixture of irritation and puzzlement; I don’t understand a situation, or I don’t understand how someone could possibly think that way about that subject

Today however, is not one of those days, because although there’s plenty that angers me about various stuff going on in the world, although I’m lacking information about certain subjects and although I’m mystified about how certain people can hold certain opinions, something different today, I think. And probably something lighter tomorrow. (The Saturday Smile seemed to go over well last week, so I’ll probably repeat it.)

I promised you something on the current series (series, people, not season; we’re British, dammit!) of Doctor Who at some point and I had a piece in draft form, but then last week’s episode happened. And I want to rewatch it, and then watch the final two episodes before I give my views. To adapt the words of the great F E Smith: I will probably be no wiser, but considerably better informed.

I’m puzzled about many things in life; some of them are skills I’ve shamefully never managed to acquire. I can make a half-decent omelette and a better than half-decent scrambled eggs. I’m pretty good at defrosting things and sticking them in the oven or microwave. But ‘cooking’ or ‘baking’? No. I’m terrible at it, and I suspect that’s as much to do with my basic apathy where food is concerned. I’m quite content to make do with what’s ‘ok’. Yes, I’ve had meals in my life that I’ve absolutely loved, but I’ve never felt the slightest urge to be able to make them myself Laziness? Well, yes, of course, there’s a certain element of that; I’m a lazy person. But while I know that friends and family enjoy making food for themselves and others, I’ve never understood it myself.

On a previous blog, I used to ask people to teach me one particular skill they had, either through their job, or recereation. A teacher told me how he quickly got the measure of a classroom and identified the jokers and workers; a wine somellier gave some tips; an expert driver gave some advcie on getting out of skids. That kind of thing. I might try that again sometime. 

Ballet. I went to a ballet last weekend. Now, I went because it was performed by Kingston Ballet School and I knew one of the little girls who was taking part. And of course she was great, and all the children of her age and younger were supernally cute and it was funny and fun. That bit was, anyway. the ‘serious’ bits of the ballet? The older children, teenagers? I didn’t ‘get’ it at all. I’m sure that for those who enjoy it, ballet is wonderful and lifts the spirits, much as does opera… which you’ll have guessed by now I’m equally barren to. 

I like some classical music; I’m partial to Bach, but I think that comes from a lingering loyalty to the novel of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where it’s revealed that Dave Bowman takes comfort in Bach after he’s left alone and before he enters the… ah, spoilers, budgie, spoilers. Anyway I played some Bach and to my surprise, I quite liked it. I’ve been less thrilled by other works. And what classical music I have enjoyed, it’s been an enjoyment of having it as wallpaper music while I’m doing something else. 

So, yes, a philistine. Can’t deny it. Many ‘great works of literature’, critically acclaimed works, I’ve been bored by; many critically acclaimed and popular tv series  I’ve tried and realised I’m just not enjoying.

Reading new works, by new authors, or new works by authors I enjoy? That never gets old and nor does rereading old favourites. Like many people I know, I’ve a stack of books by my bed; for most friends they’re books to read, puchases they’ve not quite gotten around to reading yet. For me, they’re old favourites, or new books by old favourite authors.

I’m not exactly one for trying new experiences; it happens, but rarely. And maybe I’ll write about that on another day. but not today. I’ve some rereading to do.


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