Great Moments In Stupidity #1,254

I remember once going to a class at university, and after the very first lecture deciding that this class was not for me because the professor was a.) a self-righteous do-gooder and b.) clearly incompetent, so I was not going to learn anything from the class and it would be a waste of my time. So I quit the thing and found another professor more to my liking who taught the same course. But I didn’t make a fuss about it — note how in the above story there are no names, no course titles and not even a specific college mentioned. It was a personal decision.

So you can imagine how I felt when I read how this journalista published an article about why she didn’t want her two-year-old child to be taught by fatties in kindergarten, and was then shocked — shocked! — when the fatties and their camp followers responded with vitriol.

Frankly, this little saga just gives me fuel for my forthcoming work, “Why Journalists Should Not Be Allowed To Vote” (a four-volume set, publishing date TBD).

Let’s ignore for a moment her specious reasons why she wouldn’t want a fattie to look after her kid, despite said fattie being “clearly a lovely woman: kind and great with children”, but equally clearly (to Mommie Dearest) a Bad Influence On An Impressionable Young Mind Because Fat. (I have no argument against this attitude because I’m also a fattie, and I’m sure a lot of women wouldn’t want me to teach their Precious Little Darlings either, albeit for slightly different reasons. Unless they wanted little Tyffenny to learn how to shoot, of course.)

No, what gets up my nose is that this priceless moron had to blab to the world about her silly philosophy — i.e. going to great lengths to shame fat people (and yes, she was doing precisely that), and then being bewildered when the reaction turns nasty.

Why couldn’t she simply have taken her kid out of the kindergarten and shut up about her reasons for doing so?

I dunno what it is about the modern world: why people do stuff like make decisions about situations, and then seek some kind of attention about that decision — for approval or validation, maybe? — by telling everyone about the reasons for that decision?

I know, I know; maybe Our Intrepid Scribe thought she’d be giving a voice to all those other people who want to snatch their children away from The Great Fattie Influence, and maybe she has. I’m sure a lot of people (mostly skinny, censorious busybodies, I bet) were nodding along in agreement with her original thesis. Well, I guess they aren’t as numerous (or at least as vocal) as the International Fattie-Symp Set.

Myself, I’m just enjoying the show: people who think that obesity is not only unhealthy but also a sin, versus people who think that everyone has a right to be obese, that “Fat Is Beautiful” withal, and that judgey people are Literally Hitler.

A plague on both their houses.

You Mean “Unwise”

Some old codger offers advice to some wannabe mercenaries, and I can’t argue with a single thing he says. Sample:

“You’ve got no idea what road you are starting down. Romance and idealism wears off really fast when you’re lying in a pool of your own blood trying to stuff your intestines back into your torn abdomen.”

It’s the thing which sometimes keeps me awake at night: not that I’m the guy on the ground, but that I might be the cause of it.

Men Only

I was sitting in a bar last night in Bath, trying out a pint or so of Bath’s local bitter (Gem; not too bad, but not 6X), when I became aware of loud young male voices, and lots of cursing, with what can only be called “violent language” — you know, “The next time I see him, I’m going to fuck him up”, that kind of thing.

I was only a little perturbed, because there were quite a few older women in the place, and they were visibly discomfited by both the volume and the language. Now ordinarily I would have got up and gone over to the lads and reminded them of their manners, and asked them to turn down both the volume and their fucking language because there were ladies in the house, but suddenly I realized that I was in the wrong, not them; and what was happening was the fault of modern society. Here’s why.

You see, young men are essentially wild animals, and when they’re in the company of other young men they become still more so — ’twas ever thus, and there will always be male posturing and bad behavior. Note the following little fracas between a group of adolescent male lions, rough-housing and doing essentially what the young men in the bar in Bath were doing.

Now according to the photographer, after a while they simmered down, and wandered away as though nothing had happened (which it hadn’t), and no doubt went off to kill a zebra or find a lioness to mate with — you know, guy stuff.

And this is why we need men-only bars.

Men-only bars provide an environment for young men to be themselves — i.e. to act like assholes — and basically blow off the adolescent testosterone steam building up behind their ears. It’s loud, and rude, and antisocial, but older men look at that, shrug and ignore it because they too were once young men and so they understand what’s happening: essentially, a harmless activity. Of course there may be the occasional fight, because that’s what young men do, and the only way to deal with it is for the older men to toss them out of the bar and let the young idiots finish it off where little or no damage will ensue.

But then came feminism, where men-only bars were regarded as Bastions Of Male Patriarchy or some such silliness, and bars were opened up to women, changing the dynamics of the social setting and denying to young men what was once an accepted outlet for adolescent behavior.

I’m not interested in arguments that “young men should learn to behave” — a typical  female approach when they encounter a situation they don’t like, which is to change the rules thereof and by doing so, altering someone else’s behavior but not their own. The plain fact of the matter is that this will never change, and taking away a place where young men can misbehave simply means they’re going to do it elsewhere — e.g. frat houses in college — where there is no elder-male supervision. And we’ve all seen how that works out.

In the larger sense of things, this is also an argument for an all-male armed services — at least, the part at the sharp end — where the violent nature of young men can be channeled into a worthwhile activity like killing Commies, Nazis and other assorted filth — and I hate to say it, but adding G.I. Janes to the mix is going to make that worthwhile activity less efficient.

I am likewise unmoved by the whines of feministicals who want to get involved in male behavior — “Piss off and leave us alone,” is my typical response — and I really think that we as a society have become dysfunctional because of the enforced mixing of the sexes in areas outside of relationships and mating.

I don’t know how to reverse this foolishness, or if it’s even possible. But I’d like to see men-only bars and pubs reappear as a starting-point.

Changed And Unchanged

So today I went to Harvey Nichols to make my token purchase (as promised here), and walked out without making one. Here’s what got up my nose about the place.

Harvey Nicks has changed. It’s no longer the calm, classy establishment I knew and loved from a dozen or so years ago. Now it’s brash, very pretentious and looks like someone in Marketing said, “I know! Let’s cater to parvenu Russian oil oligarchs’ wives and children!”

I was going to make a small purchase — I can’t afford Harvey Nicks’ prices on, well, anything — so I wanted to get something small, a present for a friend, nothing fancy, a beautiful bath soap that would be pure indulgence every time she used it. I walked up to the first salesgirl I saw at the cosmetics department and said, “I’m looking for some luxury bath soap. Where do you stock it?”
Soap?” The little tart acted as though she’d never heard of it.
“Yes… you know, a bar of something fragrant, something sinfully expensive and indulgent?”
Soap?” she repeated. “I don’t know… let me ask someone else,” and she sashayed off to another tart behind a different counter. Much whispered conversation, pointing and even a curl of the lip.

I was being snooted.

What was worse, I soon discovered, was that Harvey fucking Nichols does not stock any fucking bar soap, of any description — at least, not that I could discern or the snooty little shit knew about either.

So I left, and such was my dismay that I had to go to Fortnum & Mason for a recuperative lunch. So I did, hoping that Fortnum’s hadn’t made the same stupid marketing decision.

Bless the Lord, they haven’t. It’s still the same lovely, old-fashioned place that sells stuff like $1,500 carrier bags and $10,000 Christmas crackers, and which offers shoeshine service delivered by a young man in formal clothing.

I felt like I’d come home — or at least, home to Free Market Towers, which is very much like Fortnum’s, only without anything for sale. Anyway, after a frighteningly fine lunch of duck rarebit and coffee, I went up to the second floor (Ladies Accessories) and found… about a hundred different kinds of sinfully expensive and indulgent bath soaps. A delightful young lady — not a snooty little tart — with a charming French accent was only too happy to help me make a choice, showing me all over the floor to the different placements of said soaps, opening packages to let me inhale the fragrance, and in general making me feel like my business meant everything to her — and all this, for a $10 purchase, mind you.

So I ended up buying a lot more than one bar of soap — total purchase well over $40 — and then went down to buy small gifts of tea and such for my rotten, ungrateful and spoiled children.

Which I did. Then, still having not exhausted my ire at being condescended to by a snotty little shopgirl, I went down the street to the Maille mustard store, where a charming, helpful young man let me taste about a dozen exquisite mustards, and such was my self-restraint that I only bought half a dozen small jars thereof.

Such is the power of helpful, sincere and well-trained customer service.

And fuck Harvey Nichols. They’ve lost me as a customer, too.

The Banality Of Luxury

So one of my British Things to do today was to go to Green And Stone Stationers and Art Supplies on Kings Road in Chelsea.

Green And Stone is a throwback to an earlier time, when people wrote on fine paper with ink pens, used blotters on letters and correspondence, and had actual writing tables. It’s also a place where, if you’re an artist (professional or hobbyist) you will find the best quality paints, inks, pens and such anywhere. (Think: bamboo calligraphy pens in nearly a dozen different nib widths, and you’ll begin to get an idea.) As someone once told me, “Seeing all this makes you want to take up that activity, just so you get to use the stuff.” And it’s true. Even if you’re not a calligrapher or artist, it’s worth a visit; I ended up buying presents for four people, all different, and only two of which were art-related — it’s that kind of a store.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

I took the Tube down to Sloane Square, and walked the mile or so south to Green & Stone because I love Chelsea; the place is full of eclectic, interesting shops and many, many good places to eat that aren’t called McDonald’s and the like (although they can be found there too). Also, just off King’s Road are beautiful, classy neighborhoods (at not-so beautiful prices — whoa, it’s expensive, bubba) and also interesting establishments like The Chelsea Gardener. Best of all, because the area is upscale, the people are too: mostly classy people, well-dressed and carefully groomed. My kinda folks.

Anyway, on the way back I decided to take the No.19 bus rather than the Tube because it was a lovely day and I felt like looking at London rather than at a tunnel wall.

Part of the route was along Sloane Street into Knightsbridge, and of course it’s on this street where you find all the Usual Suspects: Dior, Ferragamo, Versace, Hermès, Pucci, Prada and all those furrin names. As a place of wealth and ostentation, it’s difficult to top Sloane Street…

…except that it’s not. I’ve seen Sloane Street many times before, only it was called “Hofbahnstrasse” in Zurich, “the Golden Mile” in Chicago, “Kollmarkt” in Vienna, “Northcross Mall” in Dallas, “Champs-Elysées” in Paris and “Park Avenue” in Manhattan. It’s all the same stores, the same overpriced merchandise and (pretty much) the same customers, only speaking with different accents and languages.

Phooey. You can keep all that crap. Give me a street with character like King’s Road or Upper Street in Islington (further along on my bus trip) any day of the week. Luxury shopping isn’t just overpriced, it’s banal — and I want no part of it.