Work sets you free … of leisure
You’ve heard of the Nazis I take it? Of course you have; sure you hang out on the interwobble, and so know about Godwin’s law for below the line discussions that dictates that the first one to mention the Nazis loses the argument. We should be thankful to the Nazis for this, as arguments are tricky things, and deciding who has won one is an even trickier pancake of a conundrum. The odd time, Part-Time Wife informs me that I am in an argument, and, quite often, this piece of information comes as a complete surprise to me. I’ll be pontificating away there, or in the middle of some amusing yet erudite monologue, presuming for all the World that what I am involved in is a discussion, or, at a pinch, a frank exchange of views, only to be informed that I am, in fact, engaged in an argument.
Of course, once this revelation moves its unsightly cranium from a lower position, the nature of the interlocution changes. For me, anyway, as Part-Time Wife presumably already knew she was in an argument. Once you find that you are in an argument, there are only two recommended courses of action: you should walk away from it – preferably at a fast pace – or you should win it. There is a third possible action – invading Poland – but that is not always either feasible or practical, depending on what clothes you are wearing and the military hardware at your disposal. Life being a series of minor competitions or tests, and your performance in them playing no small part in whether you see yourself as a winner or a loser, there is virtually nothing to be said for the coward’s way out of deliberately losing an argument in the hope of some nookie later on. A wank will do you, and winning the argument will do more for your self-esteem than an orgasm with a witness.
The Son and Heir has recently discovered the joys to be had in the cut and thrust of intellectual debate; more precisely, in ‘serving’ his opponent in such debates. Or arguments, as his mother calls them, as, to give him his Jew, Son and Heir generally picks her as his victim. He has learned well from David Attenborough films, and so identifies the weakest, smallest or youngest member of the tribe before launching his attack, the tribe in this instance being that group on which he and his siblings live as parasites, namely parents. I have even observed, from a safe distance, his parroting of some of my phrases while in the thick of the fray, gems such as, “This isn’t an argument, it’s a discussion,”, “That happened five minutes ago; stop dragging up the Past,” or even, “There’s no need to get angry about it just because you’ve realised you’re wrong.” He is a quick learner, and also smart enough – so far – not to take me on in his new hobby.
As an Arts graduate, I was, of course, trained to within an inch of my life in the skill of being able to state either side of any topic with equal conviction, and so arguing with the likes of me is like trying to pick up quicksilver. Without a moment’s notice, I will suddenly switch sides in an argument, prove the opponent’s point in a much more succinct and memorable way than she could ever hope to and – and here is the rub – go on to outline why the issue is irrelevant due to the absurdity of Man’s existence in a meaningless Universe. And all this before I have had my Weetabix, usually.
Useful phrase that, the one about the Universe and Man, and I learned it off by heart from the blurb on one of those novels I had to study when zooming through the upper echelons of the education system. I taught Female Teenager (not heir to anything, by the way, although she is the oldest) a similar phrase once as something to say out loud in art galleries to impress the other poseurs. The phrase, and you can have it for free, is, “I think this is indicative of the dual nature of mankind.” Try it out yourself; it works for almost any picture you might be looking at, particularly abstract ones.
Speaking of the education system, I see the race is on: Boris sent his guy out to bat after Marlene’s guy had shown his hand, and the English guy took full advantage by gazumping Peter Weir’s 54 page document on what the Hell is going to happen with schools come September. The Brits have promised all pupils back full-time with no more of this messing about on Google classroom and virtual learning. I have a dog in this fight, as I have already laid a fiver bet with my line manager that that is what will happen here as well, although that was mostly in an attempt to excuse myself from all the frantic planning that is going on at work in case it doesn’t happen. We shall find out after the Summer, but I would lay another fiver that by that stage parents will have derived the maximum benefit from the uninterrupted presence of their teenagers for five months, and are quite likely to deliver them to the school gates on 1 September and drive off in the direction of the nearest airport with a cheery, “See ya! They’re all yours now until Hallowe’en!”
And also on the education system, and things we should be grateful to the Nazis for. That extremely handy, though arbitrary, method of determining the outcome of an argument is not the only positive feature the Nazis left as a legacy for future societies. Had Hitler and his mates not done their thing, what on Earth would pupils study during their History lessons? Without all that rise to power, Nuremberg rallies and Final Solution stuff, there would be a gaping hole in the middle of the syllabus, and there just isn’t enough other history around to fill it.
You wish to contradict me? Join the queue, but be advised that I will win any ensuing competitive discussion.