Friday, 11 September 2015

Putting the world to rights!

Yesterday evening I went out for a drink with a friend. We put the world to rights, as you do when you sit down for a drink with a friend: the European Union, Brexit, Greece, Syria, immigration, begging and all sorts of other stuff. At some point, talking about the time when she used to work as a doctor in the UK, my friend told me about having got back in touch with a friend from that time through Facebook. Her friend moved long ago to Texas and she had lost touch completely until one day she decided to try to find him on Facebook. And there he was! And the time difference didn't matter. They could have a chat, of sorts, and swop photos and comments about life and its ups and downs. 

Now, that is what Facebook should be about as far as I am concerned. I too have re-established contact with old friends from the past in that way. Later in the evening, however, I found this on Facebook: "Sometimes I just want to shut off my cell phone, sell my car, move to a little cabin in the woods and live off the land." It was posted by a friend of a friend. I saw it because said friend "liked" it. I resisted the temptation to comment that the original poster could begin by switching off her iPhone and not posting rubbish on Facebook. And in any case, it wasn't even an original thought; she had found it on something called Sun I suppose that if posting nonsense makes someone feel happy and less stressed then I have no right to criticise them. 

Everyone finds some way of relieving the stress in their lives. Pupils in some boarding schools in Zimbabwe have been doing so by brewing beer from breakfast cereal. This was something I read in the news last night! Most curious! It seems that in Zimbabwe parents send parcels of groceries to their offspring in boarding school. It must be a bit like the tuck boxes you used to read about in the Billy Bunter stories but instead of sweets they send proper food items. Anyway, a number of schools have had to contact parents and ask them NOT to send a certain kind of breakfast cereal. 

“Pupils reportedly mix the cereals with brown sugar and yeast and leave the mixture to ferment in the sun, creating a potent alcoholic mixture which the pupils drink right under the noses of school authorities,” said the news report. 

These were pupils as young as 13! And we thought it was just the youth of the UK who were into underage drinking. 

Meanwhile, schools in the UK continue to have problems in connection with uniform. I read that some schools have banned the wearing of skirts altogether because young male teachers are uncomfortable chastising the girls for wearing their skirts too short. And girls are the one who statistically get into the most trouble over uniform and are sent home or put into "isolation" for some offence against the dress code. And so some places have decreed that all girls must wear trousers. But even this leads to further problems because girls are criticised for wearing trousers which are too figure-hugging! (Are boys excluded for wearing low slung trousers that show their underwear) When will the establishment learn? Uniform does not automatically create a corporate identity! 

Here in Spain they don't have the problem because only private schools impose uniform on their pupils: girls in pleated plaid skirts (kilts, I suppose) and matching cardigans! In the public sector they just wear normal clothes. Nobody seems to think that dressing everyone the same will improve discipline and performance and the like. That must be a curiously British thing. 

This business of girls getting into trouble for what they wear should really be regarded as a preparation for later life, when they will be scrutinised and criticised, and occasionally praised, over and over again. But it's something of a two-edged sword. There was another case the other day of someone getting a storm of abuse for telling a young woman that her photo on LinkedIn was very nice. This was a young woman in the legal profession. The older gentleman who complimented her on her lovely photo apologised even as he did so, aware that it might be taken the wrong way, politically incorrect. But she still lambasted him. 

It's rather a sad world where a woman cannot just accept a compliment. Yes, I am aware that few men are assessed in quite the same way for their physical appearance, although there are signs that it is becoming more common. But something is wrong when it becomes impossible to tell a woman she looks good without this being taken as a totally sexist remark. There are women out there who will hate me what I am about to say next: I don't even see the harm in a chap giving a wolf whistle when he sees a pretty girl. So long, of course, as that is where it ends and he doesn't start to follow her and harass her! 

That's my point of view anyway!

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