Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Professional considerations.

The men working on the roof of the building behind our house must have started work at eight o' clock this morning - tap-tap-tapping and bang-bang-banging away. This did not prevent me from hitting snooze on my alarm and staying in bed about half an hour longer than I intended. This is where the time goes!

I must confess to a sneaking admiration for the men working on the roof. They stride around up there, carrying stuff, putting stuff in place and manhandling huge roof tiles. They wear hard hats but no safety harnesses. My conclusion is that they have a great sense of balance or absolutely no imagination. Or perhaps they are descended from those American Indians who worked on the construction of skyscrapers, the ones you see in photos sitting on girders, calmly eating their lunch with about twenty storeys of emptiness below them.

Professional choices are interesting. For example, what do you do when you used to be a dominatrix? Why, you become a sex and relationship counsellor, of course! This is the profession of one Ai Aoyama who runs a small clinic in Tokyo, giving advice to couples. Appropriately enough for Valentine's Day, her first name means Love. Ms Aoyama, 52, is trying to cure what Japan's media calls sekkusu shinai shokogun, or "celibacy syndrome". Her profession is needed in Japan, apparently, because they are having a falling population crisis. A large percentage of men say they are too exhausted after work to think about sex and a largeish percentage of women say they are not really interested. What a sad situation!

Someone else looking for a new job is President you-know-who's security adviser. It is perhaps noteworthy that he was not sacked but resigned. Did he do so before POTUS was forced to sack him or is this because his boss really approved of his having secret talks with Russia? I wonder what he will do now. What kind of job can you apply for when you have been shown to be an underhanded liar? Politician, maybe? But perhaps, like so many of those around POTUS, he is independently wealthy and does not have to worry about working.

I don't have to worry about working, not because I am independently wealthy but because I have a nice, modest pension to keep me going. On Newsnight last night there was a discussion between Esther Rantzen, still going strong and opinionated at 76, and another oldie on the one hand and a couple of younger people on the other. We oldies with our pensions and our large houses that we rattle around in are held responsible, it seems, for many of the problems of the younger generation.

They, the younger generation, all have to work harder and longer to pay our pensions (no mention of various pension funds that were mysteriously lost along the way) and there are fewer houses available for them to buy or rent because we won't downsize quickly enough. I don't think that all of my generation can be held responsible for the cost of housing.

Even if we all sold up and moved into little granny (and grandad) flats, houses would still be just as expensive. Neither can we all be held to account for the lack of social housing, which simply hasn't been built. We might be held partly responsible for the stigma attached to living in social housing. Perhaps we all of us felt it was so important to own our own homes that not doing so looked like failure.

Nonetheless, it remains a fact that housing now, whether to rent or buy, is crazily expensive. There's a house near ours which I have been told rents for around £700 a month. And that was a fact that Ms Rantzen, in her charming way, appeared not have grasped. She went on about young people now wanting too much, how we managed without smart phones and two cars or more to a family and expensive holidays in exotic places. All of this is true, perhaps, but back when we were bright young things, setting out into the world, the cost of housing did not take up over 50% of our earning!

That's enough serious stuff for one day. Here's something else. Just as the Japanese have a term for "celibacy syndrome" so other languages have useful terminology. The Scandinavian countries keep providing us with intersting vocabulary. And so this is from Finland:


KALSARIKÄNNIT The feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear – with no intention of going out. A drink. At home. In your underwear. And there is a word for it. Kalsarikännit.

They even have emoticons to go with it but for some reason they won't copy onto this blogpost. There you go!

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