This is the age of the “one stop shop”. Across the world, supermarkets are replacing the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker with convenience stores. I do most of my shopping in supermarkets because I crave their convenience and low prices. At the same time, I miss the quality and personal touch the little shops used to provide.
For other purchases, I’m a little more choosey. I don’t expect or want my dentist to syringe my ears, or cut my hair, whilst he’s checking my teeth. I want a specialist, not a “jack of all trades” or “all-rounder”. Similarly, I’m content to see my G.P. with my minor ailments but, if there’s something seriously wrong with me, I want a specialist. I don’t expect my G.P. to be expert in every field of medicine. I wouldn’t want a good all-rounder administering my oncology, or an ear, nose and throat wallah fiddling with my aorta!
Monogamous tradition dictates that your partner must be an all-rounder. We expect him/her to provide care, attention, love, support, social interaction, entertainment, sex, and we expect to provide the same in return. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to be expert in every aspect of partnership. The very best we can hope for is a good all-rounder, with expertise in the one aspect most dear to us. Even this compromise is difficult to find and nigh-on impossible to sustain over decades.
So, is there a case for single service providers in lieu of a one stop shop? Is the only perfect partner actually not one man or woman but a collection of people, chosen for their skill sets? Logically, I think yes. Emotionally, I’m less convinced. What do you think?
There’s a look. It speaks volumes yet is so difficult to translate into prose. Some have called it “a glint” or “a sparkle” but these can’t do it justice. Eyes will glint and sparkle by a trick of the light, because they’re wet. Others use “devilment” or “mischievousness” and I can understand where they’re coming from but these seem unsatisfactory descriptions, just the same.
I had an Irish friend called Phil Hackett, or Mad Phil to his friends. Like an overgrown leprachaun, he was a drinking fool but I swear never once in all the years I knew him did he ever suggest that we went to the pub. It was never necessary. He merely acquired “that look” on his face and everyone knew where he was going. We generally tagged along: he was a very entertaining chap!
My missus says folk told her she had a “cheeky face” from a very early age. She is utterly transparent. You can tell with a glance whether she is guilty or innocent. She knows better than to attempt a lie: it would just be noise. The verdict is already written in her visage.
I’m on a fortnight’s staycation at present and so had occasion to be watching daytime TV yesterday afternoon, whilst resting from the morning’s exertions in the garden. On a poor soap opera, called Emmerdale, a man joined a group of women, sitting in a pub. I couldn’t believe his opening gambit:
“Can I just check: are any of you lesbians? Only I don’t want to waste money buying drinks for any that I stand no chance with.”
I was utterly gob-smacked! It’s so bad, it’s almost good! He managed to tick so many “turn-off boxes” in so few words: presumptuous, miserly, homophobic, arrogant; I could go on.
This set me awondering whether this could be the worst chat-up line ever, so I did a little trail of the internet, to see what I could find.
You might not be the best looking girl here, but beauty is only a light switch away.
My name’s Dick: do you like it?
The fact that I’m missing my teeth just means that there’s more room for your tongue.
Do you raise chickens? Because you made my cock grow.
Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
The word of the day is legs, let’s go to your house and spread the word.
Do you believe in love at first sight…or do I have to walk by again?
Are you free tonight, or will it cost me?
Are you the daughter of a lumberjack? Because when I look at you I get wood.
You see my mate over there? He wants to know if you think I’m cute.
So what do you think? Which of these is the worst? Or have you heard even poorer excuses to entice women?
I’ve applied for a job in Mumbai. I don’t suppose I shall get it. But I saw it advertised on our intranet, it’s in my field of expertise, and I couldn’t resist. Maeve was remarkably positive, considering how much she hates flying. Smudge didn’t seem perturbed, though the climate could be a problem for her. I don’t think she’s really considered the implications. Wait and see!
If you meet a colleague for the first time on any day, as you are leaving, do you say “hello” or “goodbye”? I’ve tried saying both but it’s not satisfactory.
Do you talk to strangers? I do but, generally speaking, only if they have some perceived affinity with my situation, some “we’re all in this together” quality. So it is customary for dog walkers to greet each other, for instance, or folk waiting together at the bus stop or the level crossing barrier. Now this may seem simple enough, but it is riven with pitfalls. What should I do if I meet an erstwhile dog-walker without a dog? I probably wouldn’t recognise him/her without a dog anyway: dogs are far more memorable than people. And do the folk waiting at the barrier, on the other side of the tracks, qualify or not? Tricky!
There’s a bloke who lives in the village, who walks past our house every working day, morning and evening, on his way to and from work. Many’s the time I’ve been in the front garden or climbing in or out of my car as he’s passing and we’ve, very sensibly, kept things at a nod and half a smile. Everyone is content and all is well. But last week I met him coming out of ASDA (Walmart) and the silly man said “Morning!” Well, obviously, I responded in kind but now we’re in a mess. What should I do next time he walks past my garden? Do we revert to nod/half smile status or are we now fettered in morning-hood for all time? But it got worse. I was about to leave for work the other day when I saw him strolling up the road. Because I hadn’t yet solved the morning versus nod conundrum, I hung back behind the curtain, waiting for him to pass. I realised this was ducking the issue rather but I thought discretion was better than valour, given the delicacy of the situation. But he saw me and, as if that was not bad enough, gave me a wave! So I was buggered: total zugzwang! I couldn’t convincingly emerge from behind the curtain and pretend that’s where I belonged. I couldn’t stay behind the curtain, peeking out: that would just be weird. I couldn’t ignore him and pretend I hadn’t seen the wave: he knew I’d seen him. Lives hang on split-second decisions and I was found wanting. I think I panicked, if I’m honest. So I waved back; knowing full well that I’m now doomed to wave for all time: what a mess!
This is a story in waiting: its denouement eludes me.