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Whatever happened to courtesy? 11 April 2013

Posted by uggclogs in Argentina, Life.
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I am astonished with the vitriolic outpouring that I have seen in the news and on the streets regarding the late Margaret Thatcher.

What I do understand is that she was a polarising person. Many people hated her and what she stood for. Many people felt that their lives were ruined and that she would not budge on issues, no matter what. She was a strong, determined woman (first female Prime Minister, nicknamed the Iron Lady by the Russians, etc.) who at times was hard-nosed and unrelenting.
Yet enough people agreed with her views to vote her into office. Several times. So love her or loathe her, she was in power because the majority of the people who voted in the UK at that time put her there.

From a neutral stand-point, I can see why someone would dislike her. She made decisions that weren’t popular, and she stood her ground against the mining unions. And the Argentinians. And others who disagreed with her.

But to sum it up, she served her people. She did what she thought was right for Britain. And you are perfectly entitled to disagree with all of that, and feel like she made Britain into a worse place. But I do not believe that anyone who becomes Prime Minister of Britain and is voted back on several occasions believes they are doing the wrong thing. They make the decisions they make because they believe they are right.

And honestly, all of this can be eulogised respectfully, fiercely, and powerfully, without resorting to pettiness. Resorting to chanting ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead’ and celebrating in the streets upon the news that she had passed away is low-brow and detestible. Bob Carr, the Foreign Minister of Australia, decided that her death was the perfect time to point out that she was also racist.

So I return to my headline – whatever happened to courtesy?

And no, I don’t want anyone to start waxing lyrical about the virtues of Margret Thatcher if they fundamentally and visciously disagreed with her throughout her life. If everything she stood for was repugnant to you, there is no need for crocodile tears.

I am not claiming that no bad things should be said about the dead or that ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all’.

What I am saying is twofold. Firstly, the dead can no longer defend themselves, so your perfect opportunity to speak has come and gone.

Secondly, say what you want to say about the woman, say that you were (and still are, and always will be) opposed to her politics and who/what she represented. Say that you think the world would have been a better place if she had not come to power. But don’t dismiss that she had a profound impact on the world, on Britain, on Europe.

Don’t lower your opportunity to change the world into a better place by resorting to petty children songs. If you don’t agree with it, change it. Make your views heard. Talk with people. Listen to people. Get into politics to implement policy if you believe strongly enough.

At least she did.

Gym etiquette 8 December 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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I do not understand why so many people are rude in the gym. They often even avoid eye contact. I mean, I understand that you might be concentrating, and working hard, but a quick flash of a smile and an acknowledgement when I walk in, or, if I am already there, when you do, is not too much to ask for!

Exhibit one: the gym in my building is tiny. It is the size of a large bedroom, so having more than one person in there means that you are quite close to each other. There are two treadmills, a stepper, a stationary bike and a weights machine crammed into the tiny space.

One middle aged man whom I have seen in the gym on several occasions simply pretends I am not there at the same time. He does not look up, does not acknowledge my ‘hello’, and often just high tails it out of there soon after my arrival.

Exhibit two: I was on the only good treadmill in that same gym, when a young guy, maybe about my age, walks in. He walks in and does not make eye contact, no acknowledgement. I had set a goal for myself that day of 30 minutes, and was at perhaps 22 minutes when he came in.

He circles around himself a few times, clearly not sure what to do. He goes into the car park to do some shuttle runs. He comes back in, still no eye contact. He gets on the crappy treadmill next to mine, presses some buttons, but doesn’t start running. He finally grabs his gear and walks out again. Had he had the decency to look me in the eye, smile, and ask if I was going to be much longer, I would have happily told him he would get the good treadmill in less than 4 minutes. Instead, he chose to leave. How stupid is that?

Exhibit three: A friend of mine and I do a lot of training sessions together, to stay motivated. We arrived at the gym, and I decided to turn the TV on first. While looking for the music channel, a guy walks in. The lights had been on when we arrived, so I assumed that he was there first, but had just stepped out for a second. He makes no eye contact, walks straight through past us. I am obliged to step out of the way to let him pass, that is how small this room is.

While I am still changing the channel, asking my friend if she remembers what channel is the music channel, he pushes past again, walks up to the other TV, and puts on CNN. At this stage, I am still under the impression that he might have been there first, so I politely turn the sound off on our TV. My friend and I start discussing what work out we should do, when he comes past again, and says “What machine are you going on?”

Only at this stage do I realise he just arrived as well. No greeting, and quite brusque in his manner. I say to him that he is free to choose whatever he wants, we will go on whatever machine he doesn’t want. He chooses the stepper. He proceeds to put earphones in, listening to music, and watching the screen on the little TV (the one I had turned on, but without sound, whereas CNN is still blaring from the other TV). I go on the crappy treadmill, my friend on the good one. After ten minutes, she’s done, so I go over on the good one to finish my thirty minutes. When I have five minutes left, he’s finished his 30 minutes on the stepper. He throws me some dirty glances, before leaving in a huff. He clearly wanted to go on my treadmill, but did not bother to ask how much longer I was going to be. He left the other TV blaring, so we had to turn it off ourselves.

I don’t understand – what is going on? Why is there no courtesy extended on the gym floor?