Friday, March 14, 2014

Welcome, Katie, whoever you are. And as I am writing, some advice I wish someone had given me long, long, long before my teeth fell out

A year or two ago I started parallel blog on Wordpress which was more or less a carbon copy of this. I can’t now remember why, although I’m sure I had a good reason at the time, but I have not paid it much attention. So I was surprised to get an email from Wordpress informing me that ‘Katie’ was now following me. I have no idea why, or what post on it - there are very few - attracted her attention. But I was gratified - no one enjoys spending several minutes laying bare their soul in a blog only for the world not to pay the blindest bit of attention - and wrote an entry on the Wordpress blog welcoming Katie, but inviting her to read this one instead as it is my main blog. Below is that entry, tailored for Blogspot.

As I am writing here, however, I thought I might post another entry which is something which occurs to me from time to time and which consists simply of pieces of advice I might give my children (at present 14 - 15 on May 25 - and 17 - 18 on August 7). None of them is in any way profound and I like to think that most of them are pretty obvious to most people with half a brain. It’s just that as I seem to have operated with even less than half a brain for most of my life, they might be worth recording for those who are doing likewise.
Here are some:

1 In the winter, don’t ever bother with cotton socks - if at all possible wear woollen socks. Yes, I know cotton socks are ten times cheaper and that finding woollen socks at a reasonable price is harder than finding hens’ teeth, but that piece of advice is still true. Woollen socks will keep your feet warm. Cotton socks will not. And few things will make you more miserable in cold weather than cold feet.

2 Along the same lines, if you want to keep warm in cold weather, wear a hat. Just a hat and a poor coat will keep you warmer than no hat with a good coat. Counter-intuitive but true.

3 Here’s a piece of advice I would give my daughter but have so far not done so, mainly because it is quite personal and she is not a necessarily streetwise 17-year-old: young men, not so young men and boys over the age of puberty tend almost always to think with their dicks. Sad, but true. It doesn’t make them bad people, and if they are bad people, it’s not the
reason they are bad people. But hormones being hormones, that’s what happens. I don’t doubt that young women, not so young women and girls over the age of puberty think in a similar woman-related way, but as I am not a woman, I can’t even guess what it might be.

4 A piece of advice I came across years ago for my son: on a first date, don’t ever spend a lot of money on this new love of your life in the hope you will impress her and make her yours. If she’s worth it, it will become obvious over time and then, if you like, start spending a lot of money on her. But not until then. And if you don’t spend a lot of money on her on that first date and she is not impressed, she most certainly isn’t worth it.

5 Don’t fall for what I can only describe as ‘first shag love’. I can’t be the first to have fallen for that and I most certainly won’t be the last. But if, like we all once were, you are  virgin and finally lose your cherry, there’s a chance you might be so desperate to hang onto that shag and make it regular by persuading yourself you have fallen in love. No, you haven’t.

6 When you are thinking of marrying, don’t let‘love’ be your sole guide. Try to stand back and ask yourself whether you actually get on with the love our your life. It might not be the end of the world to you and her (him) if you don’t, but if and when you have children together, it is important that they grow up in a peaceful and the most stable environment possible. Children imitate their atmosphere.

At one, two or three they accept what’s happening around them as the norm and if arguing, shouting, unhappiness, lying, dishonesty and even violence is what they see and take to be what‘normal’ life is, it is no surprise that when they grow up, they perpetuate that misery. A happy household makes for happy children makes for happy adults. Or happier adults. The only real treasure there is in this world is our children. Nothing else even comes close.

7 This is perhaps the silliest piece of advice I could give but it is nevertheless good advice. It is, however, only possible because I shall not see 60 again and have had a heart attack. After my heart attack I changed in a subtle way (and discovered today that my sister, six years younger, changed in the same way: I can be even less bothered with bullshit and, oddly, began to worry a lot less.‘Not worrying’ is difficult for someone 40 years younger than me, but it is worth trying: try not to worry so much. For one thing everyone your age, if you only knew it, is far, far, far more concerned with their selves than they are with you, so the chances are they won’t even notice anyway.

Remember: when we are young, we are ALL king or queen or our worlds and everyone else comes a distance second. As we get older - and I mean in our late 40s, not our late 20s - it slowly dawns on us that the rest of the world is not half as interested in us as we thought they were and that all that worrying was utterly in vain.

8 Only spend money you have. Don’t ever bother with credit. Or, at least, only with credit in the form of a mortgage. If you want something now, tough: don’t borrow money to buy it. If you save for it, then buy it, you’ll find that you appreciate it that much more.

9 Don’t go for a job because‘the money’s good’. Go for a job - if you are one of those lucky souls who can pick and choose - because you would like to do that job. And remember - ALWAYS - that there are several billion people in this world who have to take any work they can get. I know it’s a cliche but Count Your Blessings. And once you’ve counted them, count them again three more times.

10 This piece of advice is difficult to get across because it seems, at first to be contradictory, but I’ll try: keep and open mind BUT don’t believe every piece of bullshit that comes your way. Like all the best, most worthwhile things there’s a balance involved and like most worthwhile things, it isn’t easy to find that balance. But bloody try.

11 Here’s a cliche: easy come, easy go. And, unfortunately, like most cliches there’s more than a degree of truth in that. The worthwhile things take a while to achieve as a rule. Related to that is this (another lieu common, but which tends to elude most of us): if it’s too good to be true, it is. There are no‘sure things’. Ever.

Well, that’s enough homespun The Waltons’ style downhome fireside philosophy for one night, but there could be more. Welcome, Katie, and I would be curious to know which Wordpress blog entry brought you here in the first place.

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