Monday, 1 November 2021


There are many ways of making decisions. There’s the go-on-the-front-foot, “Action Man” approach. There’s reducing everything into a predictable routine. Then there’s the “busk-it” approach and there’s the “rely on experts” way, delegating responsibility for results on the clever who, blamed when things go wrong (as they often do), are dumfounded.

Action Man:

Last week at 4am our house alarm went off. Still more than half asleep I was up deactivating the alarm and running downstairs to see the front door swinging half open, shadows from the streetlights flickering through the darkened hallway.

At this point, out of character and still half asleep I started growling:

“... alright show yourself you disease weakened weasel...come on you pox raddled moron...I’m ready, I’m armed and can’t wait to mash you to pulp...stop hiding...come out, come to Johnny

The Shining' Movie Facts | Mental Floss

In my dozy half-awakeness I saw myself as Jack Nicholson in The Shining.... I had no fear, just a strong desire to thrash the intruder who’d woken me up. But there was no intruder. Just a strong wind and defective door catch.

The Routinists

The unexpected has become more commonly part of our life than it was. Back in the day, life had an inevitable and unchanging routine. The Scaffold in their 1966 record “2Days Monday” described a ritual week of clocking in and mining monotony.

2Days Monday – 

Monday’s Washing Day Tuesday’s Soup Wednesday’s Roast Beef Thursday’s Shepherds’ Pie Friday’s Fish Saturday’s Pay-Day Sunday’s Church..........

.........And so on forever and ever. 

Through the decades in the North East - 1960-69: From The Beatles to the  Fairs Cup - Chronicle Live

When we hear about levelling-up our country, this sort of routine is what we’re trying to eliminate. The litany ends “Is everybody happy? You bet your life we are” ... but of course the Scaffold weren’t really happy. Life in 1966 was hard for most people. And for many still is.

The Busker

I hope this story is true but even if it isn’t wholly accurate it captures a sense of the man, his methods and our times. Roll back the clock forty years. Boris Johnson was at school. A very clever boy with allegedly a strong sense of entitlement which exceeded even his considerable gifts. One of those gifts was acting, He sought and fought for the best parts. So far so good. The trouble was that he never bothered to learn his part properly. This meant he relied heavily on the prompter. The plays – tragedy, melodrama or farce all became a spirited dialogue between Boris and the prompter like that between a Dummy and his ventriloquist. The result was hilarious and – can this be true? – the prompter took a bow at curtain call

A couple of men playing guitars

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Spare us your vote …..

The Expert

In my experience there are two kinds of expert. Those who describe complex problems as “fantastically straightforward” and speak very fast and incomprehensibly about them. And there are those who listen, ponder and then start dissecting the problem and outline a series of possible solutions.

They can’t make my decisions – only I can do that – they’re experts not decision-makers.

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Increasingly when looking at global problems I find myself thinking “You know I can’t engage with this anymore.” I sympathise with readers of The Guardian, the writing in which is so elegant but often bleakly depressing.

What we should do is focus on those issues over which we can potentially exert control (like my mythical intruder), ensure we don’t get locked in monotony and learn our parts properly (or don’t take part). 

And we all need to think.

When every day’s a thinking day will most of us be happier? You bet your life we will.

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1 comment:

John Eustace said...

Small steps Richard, Small steps. It's the little things that work best, small everyday wins. So much so, I sometimes enter these in my jottings to remind me