Saturday, July 16, 2011

Temper, Temper

"...they exercised the old middle-class male prerogative of being permanently in a most filthy temper," writes John Mortimer in his autobiography, "Clinging to the Wreckage".
I don't know whether he's writing re the 40s or 50s, but I certainly encountered it later than that:  men in senior positions whose bad temper swirled around and radiated from them, so that one approached them, on the most innocent mission, with trepidation and something close to obsequity.  Girlish deference, anyway.
Management is much more enlightened these days, I am told.  However, I read:  "Since when did displays of rude, aggressive behaviour get you ahead at work? .....according to research from the University of Amsterdam, people behaving badly often.....forge ahead in their career." (The Age. 4/7/2011). 
I was reminded of this this week when I saw the unaccustomed photos of Rupert Murdoch smiling.  Yes, I know that the files may be full of such, and the newspapers have chosen not to print them.  But, these were current.  I speculated as to whether the smiles were saying, "What, me worried?"  Or perhaps, "I'm a nice person, really."
I was reminded also of ex Prime Minister Paul Keating saying of him:  "He's a big, bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big, bad bastard too....the only language he respects is strength".
Then RP returned to the USA.   He announced that the crisis had been handled absolutely faultlessly.   The photo accompanying this story had his usual grumpy expression restored.  Whew!  Everything back to normal.

It's certainly true that some senior women have now perfected these techniques also;  taking them, I'm told, to a new level of viciousness.  What a pity.  They all need to learn to play nicely.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When Failure Opens Doors

I imagine that many people have completed this Guardian quiz in which you judge whether a passage has been written by a male or female.

My miserable score was 3/10.   It came with the comment:
"Awful.  What are you, a girl or something?"
I think that my poor score demonstrates that I am an ideal person to judge literary competitions, because I would obviously be completely unable to favour one sex over another.
I wonder where I go to apply?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fare thee wells

Is "The Bufffalo" the old ship I saw near Glenelg in South Australia?
How unbelievably tiny these old ships are.  They look too small to serve 176 people afternoon tea, let alone transport them for 6 months around half the globe.
Sea-stuff: buoys, nets, boats, figureheads,  promote reflection and excitement and the taste for adventure.  Many figureheads are of women: enigmatic and staring.
The figurehead of "The Buffalo" is that of a poor cow: terrified, eyes rolled.    Bovines do not care for swimming.  I feel for this poor buffalo, breasting the oceans from England to Oz.  He looks as if every moment was a moment of fear and trepidation.
I have said my farewells to people again and again and again:  the same people, my dear ones, over and over, as they came and went.  Bye!  Take care!  Have a good trip!  The voice can send different messages than the heart feels.
Once, people leaving were probably never to be seen again.    The emotions left behind are too big to be spoken of.
"The Dunbar", 81 days out of London, turned in at "The Gap", an opening in the cliffs that was easily mistaken for, and just a couple of miles from, Sydney Harbour and safety.  All but one perished.
 Such sad old stories.

Being Tough

His photo shows him to have wavy hair - (ugh) - with a distinct part - (yech).   He wears a cravat - (yikes) - and has, in one hand a cigarette IN A HOLDER, as if he were Holiday Golightly. Under the other arm he holds...wait for it....a poodle.  What a wanker.
Of course, it's a quite old - 1950s? - photo of Nicholas Monsarrat, on the dustcover of his book recounting his years in escort vessels, during WW2, across the north Atlantic, with unimaginable and prolonged cold, hardship, fear and peril.  Icy, dangerous seas.  Constant alert and fear of uboats determined to kill you.  Grief of loss.  Death a constant shadow.  Intermittent catastrophe, as another vessel is targeted and sunk.  A monumental and prolonged endurance trial.
If you survived, or even as a coward lived through it, you had no need to strike macho poses later.  You could confidently wear a part in your hair, carry a cigarette holder or a poodle, and wear a cravat. You had proved yourself.
Times have changed, as they do.
Locally, (and I suspect that this is wider spread than here), there is an emphasis on making boys "tough".
I would like them to change this word to "strong", the quality that allowed such as Nicholas Monsarrat to endure.