A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Hooptedoodle #180 - Donkey Award - Performance Parenting




Yesterday I drove into the village, to visit the Post Office in order to mail a couple of parcels. Yesterday was Monday.

Monday morning is not recommended in our PO. Monday is Pension Day, and the place is filled with queuing seniors, complaining about how cold it is, or how hot it is, or how wet it is, or how expensive everything is now, or about the ridiculous time they have to spend queuing for their pension each week, listening to all this moaning.

Thus I did the smart thing, and went in the afternoon. The Post Office was pretty much deserted. I was vaguely aware that there was one person being served already, and I was next in the queue. As usual, I went into a sort of dream, half watching the TV screen in the corner, which shows ads for a local restaurant which closed last year, and promotes a foreign-currency exchange deal the Post Office was running a while ago – probably last year, in fact. You know the type of thing. I rely on public information services like this to keep me on the ball.

Then it was my turn, and the previous customer – a young woman with two very small children – came past me with a pushchair, conversing loudly with someone else whom I had obviously not seen, so I stood aside to allow her companion to pass. There was no companion. This lady was involved in a remarkably voluble conversation with her children, though she was not, in fact, looking at them. She had with her a little girl toddler – maybe 15 months (I’m not good at this stuff) – who clung to the handle of the pushchair, and an infant of just a few months in the chair itself. The little girl was muttering incoherent monosyllables, which had no apparent place in the conversation, and the younger child’s repertoire was probably limited to vomiting and crying, not much else.

One doesn’t like to gawp at the afflicted, so I got about my business, while the mother was engaging the kids with an explanation of how Mummy would have to go to the organic delicatessen, since their vegetables were so much nicer than Tesco’s, and they had soya milk. I could still hear her after the door closed behind her. I exchanged a quick glance with Amir, the postmaster, but Amir is a gentleman, and he merely rolled his eyes upwards very slightly. You would have to know Amir to detect it.

My business was simple and quick, and I left the Post Office to find that I was directly behind the mother and kids in the street. She had a triangular rucksack on her back – as many organic vegetable eaters seem to carry, I find – it may be an item of official issue, though it might also have to do with the need to cart around everything required to ensure their kids are protected from the toxic world of fluoridated water and environmentally-hostile detergents in which the rest of us have to struggle.

Since we are now into the holiday period, and our village is a seaside resort, I had parked my car about half a mile up the High Street, and I now found myself heading in the same direction as Mummy and the kiddies. She was deafening, and still she went on – and still her monologue seemed somehow to be directed at everyone around. I crossed the street to get away, and strode past them, but I could hear every word. I don’t like to find that I am irritated by things like this – it provides more unwelcome evidence that I am an antisocial old hermit – but I was definitely nettled. Maybe it is my upbringing, maybe it’s the generation I come from, maybe it’s something more instinctive and older than that, but there is a certain hectoring tone of female voice which just oppresses men, I think. It is probably designed specially, through years of research, using audio spectrometers and electrodes on volunteers’ scalps. It is found among schoolteachers, librarians, council employees, committee chairpersons and, frequently, young mothers with more education than they require for the job. As an aside, I might mention that, in her day, Mrs Thatcher on the radio could trigger the same response. I must hold several world standing-jump records from my attempts to switch her off before the third word came out. That, of course, was when I was in my jumping prime.

Back to the High Street…

“Oh look,” roared Mummy, “we are going near Daddy’s office, aren’t we? Daddy’s got such a lovely new office, hasn’t he?”

“Bubbubawama,” said the daughter.

“Yes, of course he has,” thought every passer-by within 100 yards.

By the time she reached the Golfer’s Rest, an inn, I was well ahead, but she was still in full flow.

“Oh, look at all the men standing outside the pub with their filthy cigarettes – how horrible – they will all become sick, won’t they?” This easily loud enough to carry to the little group outside the pub.

I couldn’t hear what the daughter said this time, but I’m sure it was profound.

Yes, yes - quite so, but could you do it quietly, please, and give us all a break?
I was delighted to reach my car, and drove home with the music turned away up – yesterday it was Ray Charles.

All right then. What is wrong with this picture? This young lady obviously has the very best of intentions, and we know it is important to speak to little children, since that is how they learn about the world. We may debate this particular Mummy’s views, but why would little children need to be taught that it is acceptable to address one’s opinions and life-values in a pompous, self-important manner so that everyone within sight can hear them? Just whose benefit is this little show for? The kids? The passers-by? Mummy herself?

I really don’t like to be a grumpy old sod, and I’d prefer not to pass unqualified judgements on people I don’t even know, but what is all this about?

Opinions, please, on a used £10 note to the usual box number at Chateau Foy.


20 comments:

  1. I tend to find that this yummy mummy is probably so far stuck up her own botty, she doesn't even realise what a pain in the butt she is. And usually that do somewhat resemble the pic above???? eehaw!

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    1. Ee-haw! - see you at the barricades, Ray.

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  2. I recommend moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears - I find it works a treat. And even when I'm close to someone talking, ordinary phrases can become weired and wonderful (without mind-altering, illegal, substances!). Just goes to show ... clouds and silver linings. Actually, what of the young woman's husband? Poor fellow.

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    1. He probably spends very long hours in his lovely new office - unless he has a higher threshold of apoplexy than I have. This is great - we could invent a complete TV series about these people, and we never met them!

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  3. Um, yep. That's about all there is to say, but I understand perfectly what you mean.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Uh-huh. My Preston grannie used to say "your principles had better be really important, if you are going to offend people with them".

      She was, of course, raving mad.

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    2. What a fantastic saying though. Mad or not that's wisdom.

      As for "young mothers with more education than they require for the job". Priceless! Reminds me of some of the people in the NCT group we attended (I know that places us dangerously near that category).

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    3. Right Chris - if you attended NCT meetings we expect some proper authorised views here - you can be the man who tells us how to play this...

      I prefer to grumble from a safe position of ignorance, that way I cannot be put on the spot to say something useful.

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    4. Oh, I don't know about authorised views. I'm still probably on some kind of list of dangerous, unreconstructed males for saying we'll take the drugs and for laughing at the knitted uterus.

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  4. You are in fine form today!

    What I find more annoying is hearing a loud conversation and turning around to discover that there is only one person. Is she talking to me? No! That person is holding a loud conversation with her iPhone plugged into her head.

    What happened to manners and etiquette?

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    1. You are spot on correct, sir. I also find that these iPhone robots tend to cross the road in front of my car without looking, still speaking, since their world is mostly virtual reality anyway. Maybe that keeps the numbers down. Darwin strikes again?

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  5. You have my sympathy. We recently had to endure another 'parent of the year' on a train...

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    1. There's no escape on a train - you can get up and pointedly move somewhere else, but there may not be seats, and the perpetrator will probably not notice anything so unimportant. Hmmm. You couldn't really kill her, I can see that, and they don't like people pulling the emergency brake for reasons such as extreme irritation.

      I suppose you could ask her to shut the **** up, but that would be lowering yourself to an (almost) comparable level of ignorance. No, you just have to put on the iPhone or something and drown her out.

      Tricky - we need a whole new protocol here. Could we get a government grant for this?

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  6. My wife has a friend (me too, I suppose) who is a former welfare rights adviser. She became a member of an endangered species a few years ago when local and central government cottoned on to the simple fact that, if people don't get advice on which benefits they're entitled to, they won't claim them, ergo, make all the welfare rights advisers redundant. So Joan, who has excellent transferrable skills in interviewing and counselling, has moved into the field of . . . er . . I'm not exactly sure what, but her employers get involved in a wide variety of projects, including doing research work for certain high profile market research type outfits, including those who try to generate self fulfilling prophesies on election results. You may have seen some of their efforts recently.

    Jeez Gaz, what's all this about? Well, I thought you might ask that. The thing is that Joan has spotted the core of the modern malaise. Having spent a number of years dealing with people who were at the bottom of society's greasy pole, who are generally lacking in confidence and lived in a world of uncertainty (plus the occasional scrounger), she's now found herself dealing almost exclusively with people who have an acute sense of their own importance (though not their actual worth) and whose favourite words are me, myself and I. Your 'Wunder Mutter' is typical of a growing breed who, luckily for us, know what's best for everyone else because it's what they think ought to be. Best of all, like all evangelists, they spew out involuntary proclamations willy-nilly so nobody's left in any doubt. The main disadvantage for the commoner, aside from an inability to evade such types, is that the zealots are totally indiscriminate and although they have strong opinions on everything, as might be expected, their deliivery carries over into all areas of conversation. Actually, they don't converse as such, but talk at individudal people or even the world at large. It's one way traffic.

    Joan now loves them and they provide her with almost limitless entertainment. Some of the answers she received during here general election work were priceless (though also pretty useless from a practical point of view). Sadly for the rest of us, their views are totally selfish and are only aimed at producing what they themselves want. They seem to be particularly common in the Green Party and the Greek Government and inhabit areas such as Sloan Square and Chorlton Green.

    My iPod gets used a lot more often than it used to.

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    1. Gary - what can I say? - once again, a show-stopping comment which blows the original post into the shrubbery. I only write these feeble efforts to tempt you out into the open.

      Sincerely - thanks for that - illuminating and hilarious in one go.

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    2. Don't know why Greens and Greeks cop the blame. In my experience, admittedly on the other side of the globe where everything is upside down, is that if you want entitled, self-important people whose political engagement is limited to soliciting pork, you'll generally find them swinging between the major parties, who are happy to sell their "souls" greasing up to what (since the era of past Tory PM) we now call "aspirationals".

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    3. No chuck, the Greens (ours - don'tknow much/anything about yours) and the Greek Government aren't being blamed, they're just current exemplars of this model of idividual. There are plenty of others.

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    4. Well you're right there, Gaz, there's no shortage ...

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  7. I received a smattering of supportive emails, for which I offer my thanks. The point was made that this is nothing new, though some of the technologies involved might have developed a bit. In the Thatcherite Eighties there was a sudden outbreak of successful ladies who decided to take a couple of years off from being a lawyer or a managing director or whatever and have a baby - maybe two. At the time, they probably knew it was time to do so because it said so in the Filofax. There may have even been a special Filofax clip-in section which covered this - it would probably go next to the section on vintages of claret.

    It was quite common for such ladies, having had their lofty routine reduced to nappies and formulated milk, to feel the need to share this new experience with the world (primarily their chums, I guess) and publish a book on the subject.

    Having invented childbirth, some of them then gave up on the idea of going back to work, moved to Provence or the Algarve, and produced a follow-up book about that.

    Anyway, when I started this comment I must have felt there was some common thread here, but I seem to have lost it on the way...

    By the way, I have almost finished my own latest book after almost two years, but then I always was a slow reader.

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    1. To be fair to the breed, when they don't go back to work, they are very useful to have around at your local primary school since they have bags of energy, know-how and self-confidence to raise pots money for the PTA. They're probably a boon to many a parish church too in their eagerness to get that all important letter from the priest that helps Annabel/Jago get into that Outstanding church secondary school.

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