Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quiet Talks and Summer Walks

Governments like to define people, it helps them create rafts of meaningless statistics that help them make some piece of policy or legislation more convincing - they tell us 80% of the population want a better service from government departments which is why they've increased our taxes. No. The tax increase aspect of the deal was conveniently omitted from the original question. We said we wanted a bettter service, we didn't say we wanted a tax increase.

Companies like to categorise people in order to create demographics which will "help them to help you". They tell us 80% of their customers said they wanted a better phone service. So they sacked 400 people and moved the entire operation to Bangalore. No. You didn't ask the same 80% if they wanted 400 people sacked - that was not the question. Your customers said they wanted service, not redundancies. Oh, and it saved you 85 million quid a year as well, so it's a win-win for everyone eh?

As individuals we operate on a microscale of the above. We make any number of judgements on a person often just by looking at them or hearing them make a few abstract comments.

Once you're out of your teenage years, after those desperate early years struggling to fit in, you fight to make your mark. Desperate to conform as a youngster you now realise conformity will never set you apart from the crowd. You need your own little Unique Selling Point.

This USP can take many forms. A discreet tattoo. A striking, some say eye-jarring approach to fashion perhaps. Some will head off to the quack doctors and return to proudly announce a food intolerance that has made them a surly and cantankerous git for the last 20 years. Others will search their past to winkle out some insignificant event in their childhood and use this to account for their failings in later life.

Others are more easily defined perhaps. A physical feature may can make a person yet the same characteristic may blight another person and make them bitter with their lot in life. Whatever it is we're all in some category somewhere.

About six billion people in the world? Are you male or female dear reader? Female - ok, that's got rid of three billion. British? That's now got you down to one in 30 million. Caucasian? Yes - ok so that's probably taken another 2 or 3 million off the stats. More than one sibling? Wow, that's a good one - let's make a wild guess and say that now makes you one of 6 million. So after four aspects of your life you have absolutely no control over, you are now in a club that represents something like 0.1% of the world's population. Pretty exclusive eh? Now extrapolate a little further with some of the lifestyle choices I mention above and you could be one of only a few hundred people like you in the whole damn world.

I flatter myself I like to try and be different occasionally. I stuck to flared jeans well into the 80s. I think free further education for all is a defining mark of an enlightened society, yet I personally didn't get a whiff of it having failed every exam ever put in front of me and leaving full time education at 16. I like to sing along to The Red Army Choir's rendition of La Marseillaise when I'm drunk. There are probably only one or two of us in the whole wide world. No wonder I'm 43 and single.

But finally, tomorrow, I'm joining a crowd with an increasing membership. I've resisted it for a long time. It just wasn't for me. I don't envy or resent people already in that club. I just didn't see many benefits in it for me. Other people swear by it. It has changed their life they tell me. They can't imagine how they survived before they joined this global clique.

Yes, tomorrow I get my first mobile telephone.


Rob said...

Then you can further refine your in-group by careful selection of the ringtone.....

Hi there, nice to be with you, happy you could stick around. Always pleased to find another Bonzos fan. I've blogrolled you over on my site and done a little post which might get you some visitors.

And King Of Scurf is an awesome title. Though Big Shot would have been nearly as good.

King of Scurf said...

Thanks for the blogroll Rob. I'll reciprocate as soon as I can work out how.

Any Bonzos tune would make a good blog title. I was equally tempted to use Zappa tracks, particularly those from Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

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