I just learnt the word Ident. Does everyone know this word? It is that little film on the tv between programmes that promotes the channel. The BBC has swimmers, amateur footballers, mugs for tea. They probably cost millions of license-payers money to make. The mug one struck me as it is meant to be about tea breaks, and amongst the receptacles there isn’t a single cup and saucer. I am a fan of the cup and saucer for both tea and coffee. Especially as we now tend to drink our beverage in an easy chair rather than formally round a table. In casual settings you need a saucer to catch the spill. The cup and saucer is so much more elegant than the tubular mug. For me, there is no competition. Perhaps the dish-washer might break a fragile cup and saucer, but they are now made sturdy to withstand the tyranny of the machine. Needless to say, I own no dish-washer myself. I am happy enough with the proces of washing-up. It gives the hands a punctual warm massage every few hours of the day. Anyway I just bought a nice-looking breakfast cup and saucer (larger than the tea cup and saucer) for the morning pre-coffee tea. If, when it comes, it looks the part, this could be an xmas gift idea. For the festive season, an xmas tip from peoplearerubbish.
When I ask my students do you watch telly in the evening, they say no. So what do you do then? I say. I know they don’t read. They say they watch netflix. I say, that’s watching telly. They say, no it isn’t. I say I don’t have netflix and they look down their nose at me. I tell them that all they are doing by saying that they are watching netflix rather than telly is indictating to me their class and preocupation with status. Our conversation is really about their attempts to position themselves in society. This, I suppose, is a structuralist analysis of the exchange. At their age they are right to look to find their place in the pecking order, even if the only order that interests them is socio-economic rather than intellectual. I, by contrast, place myself top of the sneering hierarchies. Sneerer-in-chief. It comes with the blog.
The most challenging things in life are those that are neither black nor white. This is true in ones material life as it is in our dealings with people. I did a little game the other day where you give the three words that you hope best define yourself. After ten seconds of thinking I thought Clever; jovial and another one I forget. Later that evening I thought about it again and came up with Compromising; uncompromising; compromised. In the run of life you need to be able to compromise; there comes a moment when you must not compromise; modesty forces me to add compromised.
As I say, a lot of our difficult work is done in the intermediate zones. Take clothes for example. We all have clothes that are not yet dirty clothes but no longer clean. These are what I call my on the go clothes. But the question is, what do you do with the on the go? The shirt you will get another wearing out of; the trousers that are weekend wear. A jumper you can just sling over the back of the settee ; it is a classic on the go garment, and its presence on the settee back is accepted and acceptable, but shirts and trousers are not. My present solution is to put on the go material onto what I call my bushel. My bushel is actually one of those strange chairs that are meant to be good for your back which you kneel on like an upright altarboy on his hassock. This I no longer use for my back, I use it for my on the go. It’s not perfect but it’s the best I can manage. It’s a compromise.
I have never been a wearer of so-called combat trousers. The idea that urban life is a combat where you need to keep your battle tools about you tucked into a variety of pockets and crannies woven within the folds of your trousers doesn’t appeal to me. What is this combat you fight? I wish to say. Then there are the hoods you cover yourself with as if your identity is a secret the evil state would wish to hound you for. Or the trousers you wear low slung to show your earlier experiences in a state penitentiary. These are all adolescent urban fantasies, and if your identity is being tracked it isn’t by the bumblers in the government, it is by the people you willingly give your life to, at Facebook and Amazon and co. You yearn to belong to an urban warfare, yet you cannot understand the stakes. And then, when for once a mild degree of war-like discipline is required, you cry because you can’t get a pint or a haircut next week or a public space where you can do your pull-ups. What war were those pull-ups intended for? This may be the closest we get to one.