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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Friday, 13 October 2017

Black spots

What am I worst at?

First, an important ground rule. There’ll be none of those weaselly confessions (I over-forgive my enemies. Hiding my handsomeness. Being too literary.) which turn out to be self-serving. Here “worst” means bad: contemptible, incompetent, unmannerly.

I lack social nicety. The West Riding didn’t encourage it and I’ve never bothered to rectify the omission. Far from being trivial social nicety oils the wheels, especially during first encounters. Less to do with what is said, more a tone of voice that sets the other person at ease. Instead I challenge and am facetious.

Personal hygiene. By US standards I’d be stopped at immigration. Yes I do change my underpants but reluctantly. As to my PJs you’d be shocked... And for the sake of the comity of nations I’ll not say how often I bathe. Cleanliness is such a fag, more so as I get older. Nor are there valid excuses.

Impatience prevents me from doing good manual work. What’s more I can live with visible and gross imperfections; in some cases even romanticise the defects.

Writing too much encourages self-centredness. And not in a nice way. Even when I’m not writing it occupies my frontal lobes and colours what I say and do. It encourages “pronouncements” – not a lovable tendency. Makes me sneer.

I know I’m a physical coward because simulated warfare during National Service proved that. But I’m also guilty of moral cowardice. While editing a community magazine I backed down to a bully. An older man with little education stood up to the same bully and won the day.

I drink too much.

Here’s an ambiguous one. I’m amused by things I suspect I shouldn’t be amused by. Perhaps because I’m somewhat detached. Examples are needed but I’ve run out of space.

2 comments:

marly youmans said...

You're a devotee of the ideal of truth-telling. That combined with lack of niceties means you admit more than I would! (My Southern ancestors make sure I am polite, tactful, and know my guilt!)

Roderick Robinson said...

Marly: Interesting isn't it? Truth is always thought to be a good thing but there are surely times when witholding truth is the better option. No one ever added to the world's goodness by saying to a mother "That's an ugly baby you have there." even if it were obviously true.

You've mentioned politeness before and I'm charmed that this tradition still exists in the South. But politeness is another way of "not giving offence" and this surely demands fibbing from time to time, even if it usually involves the lesser crime of fibbing by omission. Or telling "white lies" if you like. I didn't realise that Southerners are apparently weighed down by guilt; would you say this was a lesser burden than suffering from angst?

I'd dispute (in the kindest way) I'm committed to truth but to elaborate on this leads me into one of those weasel confessions I swore to avoid. When someone says to me "Nice day isn't it?" my hackles rise and I find unwilling to respond to this double cliché (of semantics and of conception). My urge is instead to say something unexpected, original and entertaining. This urge can immediately be seen as boasting but not if the person who uttered the original greeting is unequipped to deal with an unexpected, original and/or entertaining response. Despite this I'm likely to proceed and thus confuse or embarrass the greeter.