The Big Lebowski and disgruntlitude, a job opportunity, happiness and things to learn as you get older

28 Jul 2019

Apart from drawing attention to the obvious dangers of people who underestimate their own incompetence, I can’t think of anyhing sensible to say about what 92,153 members of the Conservative party have inflicted on the rest of us in a desperate attempt to reunite their party.  The only compensation was to see Jacob Rees-Mogg sitting on the front bench looking embarrassed as his leader did his amdram thespian act and a bunch of demoted ministers sat on the back benches munching on their disgruntlitude (this is a word I heard myself making up the other day and I decided to keep it in my vocabulary because Judy liked it).

Actually, as a Coen brothers fan, I did enjoy Johnson’s attempt to top “strong and stable” with “dude” which immediately conjured up a picture of the laid-back stoner Dude played by Jeff Daniels in ‘The Big Lebowski’ (great film – see it if you can).

And, let’s be fair, who could fail to admire Rees-Mogg’s admirable grasp of priorities as demonstrated by his pedantic instructions to staff on how to use the English language, such as not putting a comma after ‘and’.

The heatwave seems to be over but Thursday was quite hot.  Anybody else old enough to remember the old song ‘Life gets Teejus’?  “I open the door and the flies swarm in / close the door and I’m sweating again”.

Now for a short-term job opportunity. A friend of mine has been asked by a voluntary group that runs a tidal swimming lido in north Devon to help them sort a few problems and build a stable base for the future.  Living in London, she doesn’t think it’s practicable to do it herself so she asked me if I’d be interested.  In normal circs I’d have jumped at a challenge like that but, as a carer, my circs aren’t normal so I’m wondering if any of you would be able to help them, or if you know anybody who might.

The new TV version of ‘Catch 22’ has finished with a C-.  I understand the need to omit some scenes and characters and combine others but other diversions from the book were unnecessary, including the end.  The book finishes on a note of optimism while the TV series finished with a sense of weary resignation, totally out of character for Yossarian.

The concert in Beer Quarry Caves I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is sold out!  If you got a ticket, enjoy it;  if you didn’t get off the mark quickly enough, move faster next time.

I wonder why I’ve had less than one suggestion for a reliable local gardener!

I also wonder why more people aren’t happier but I do have a theory about this.  I don’t believe happiness exists in isolation so looking for it is a complete waste of time.  You can’t try to be happy, it doesn’t work that way – it’s a by-product of something else.

Say you’re standing on a sunshiny clifftop in a gentle breeze with the smell of the sea below and the song of a lark above;  or you’ve just finished the best meal you’ve had for ages and are relaxing, chatting with old friends;  or you’re a boy racer and you’ve just reached 90 mph in your souped-up 20-year old Ford Escort with its go-faster stripes blowing in the slipstream;  or you’ve just finished a marathon in your best personal time for 15 years;  or you’re just listening to your favourite piece of music;  or … whatever else works for you.

Happiness is the result, not the cause.

We can also carry diluted memories of happiness but the memory of past happiness is just a memory and it doesn’t make you happy now;  and memories wear out as time passes.  As does the past, though it can leave scars;  the saddest things people can say often start with “If only”.

And finally, here are a few things people should learn as they get older (apart from you don’t get wiser, you just realise there’s even more you know nothing about):

how to recognise a poisoned chalice

don’t underestimate your own incompetence

if a woman accuses a man of sexual harassment, don’t admit to sexually harassing other women by saying “She’s not my type”

if you agree that Inheritance Tax really is Britain’s most hated tax, don’t worry about it, it won’t affect you because you’ll be dead

keep a list of how many children you’ve got (with their mothers’ names if you can remember them)

if you’ve taken a child out, don’t leave them in the pub when you go home

before you colour your hair for the first time, decide when you’re going to let it grow out into its natural colour

you can always say ‘no’

if you’ve got nothing to say …

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