Human nature vital in sandpit and at BBQs
I spent most of my early career studying women. Although lately, I've taken the occasional trip into deep thought and the study of the behaviour of humankind itself, which is, rather disturbingly, called anthropology. Now I've gone from apologist to anthropologist and I've developed a few theories.
Judge Allan Roberts' criminal court must be the most interesting, if depressing, place in Taranaki, especially the waiting area.
Luckily, the good and learned judge can brighten the occasion with fascinating observations of his clients, carved with truly remarkable wit, garnished with some time then dished up in this same newspaper.
So my theory is that his workload of youth bashers, head stompers, bottlers, stabbers and weapon carriers would be vastly reduced if we allowed kids to fight again.
My eldest daughter was whacked in the head by a boy wielding a Tonka truck in the kindergarten sandpit. His dad was there and said, "Tut tut now, we don't do that to other children"; so the boy had another go. My daughter just cried and cried because it hurt and she didn't know what to do. So at home later, I showed her how to defend herself and, importantly, that it was all right to do so.
Next time the boy tried it, she dropped him and from age four has never again felt physically threatened, despite exposure to the worst of drunken human behaviour in her work.
Boys will be boys and sometimes girls too, and it's only after thousands of years of human nature that occasionally they feel the only way is to fight.
And it can be quite good fun.
It's important they learn how to do it properly from an early age and become confident they can defend themselves, but not do permanent damage or create enemies in the process.
Another theory: we read about and feel the effects of the global financial crisis and though it bloody hurts, I still don't believe the lesson has been learnt yet.
We haven't learnt yet that "working really hard" on whatever project that's failing is nothing but an excuse.
We haven't learnt yet that because we close at 5pm we can stop welcoming customers from 4.45pm. We haven't learnt yet that standing around talking about what was on TV last night and ignoring customers is not a good thing. We haven't learnt yet that making good coffee is an art and that we can't charge $4.50 for an espresso that looks like instant and tastes even worse. We haven't learnt yet that talking in industry jargon causes our customers' eyes to glaze over and buy somewhere else. We haven't learnt yet that our customers demand the same simplicity, effectiveness and accuracy we expect ourselves. So, if you set up a system, try it yourself from your customers' points of view and see if it works - before you tell anyone it's available. We haven't learnt yet that it's not always about price, that knowledge and advice, service and quality have a value too; it's where we earn our wages. We haven't learnt yet that to succeed personally and as a country, needs constant improvement, learning, practise at skills, working on the detail, knowing the objective and the ultimate goals. Being really good at our jobs and not just working really hard at nothing. Sheep shearers and a very few people with shovels and jackhammers work really hard; no-one else does, or needs to.
Salad at barbecues is another thing I've thought about a lot. I see ads on TV about men being forced to drink wine and I can relate to them well. Not that I ever gave up my first love, beer, despite intense and prolonged pressure.
It's like being gay, which it is OK to be these days; but I'll be buggered if I'll ever try it. The two go hand in hand I reckon - gayness and wine, salads and barbecues.
Barbecues are a man's thing; something that, if you gave everything else manly away, you can take back starting today.
Throw the gas unit away and get a wood-burning job.
Sharpen your man talents and instincts by tracking down some really good wood of various types to create smoke that will infuse the food with unique and unbeatable flavour.
Buy meat of impeccable quality from butchers who know their game.
Never barbecue chicken or sugary marinated rubbish, or you'll ruin the grate.
Do some man cooking and encourage everyone to eat it when it is ready.
Eat when it's right and as good as it can ever be; don't wait for the salad.
Be a bloody man and invite Judge Roberts.
Tell me how wrong I am at www.facebook.com/burnside.of.life
Taranaki Daily News