Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Passing Patrons.

It's been almost eight years since I moved back to the UK. And where I live is quite different to where I lived in Australia. It's certainly quieter, slower and more laid back. I love the little village in which I live, and the city is quite beautiful.

People often ask me whether I miss Australia. I have moments, of course, but what I do miss most are my family and friends.

I have plenty of friends in the UK, and people I am friendly with, but I haven't really made any mates. Those who will drop over for a pint, or to watch the footy, or just to hurl abuse and mock you. As you get older, it gets harder to make new close friends.  I think this level of friendship occurs due to shared interests, experiences or through the mutual looking for friends. By my age, most people already have their friendship circle and don't need any more. I suppose it doesn't help that most of my interests seem not to be shared by anyone around me.

On the weekend, I was in another city for a conference. A splendid time was had, and during the dinner break I headed out to find some food. I ended up in a small Indian restaurant, and shared a table with another patron, someone not attending the conference.  I really enjoyed his company, and we seemed to have so much in common. We chatted about music (similar tastes), laughed, and generally had a good time. And then I had to leave.

I said bye, and headed out. A minute or so later, I considered returning to ask if we could connect on social media, but I figured that might be weird. It's unlikely we'd ever get to hang out due to the distance between our cities, and that's what I would have really enjoyed.

Maybe I should have. You never know. We might have ended up hanging out, somehow, somewhere. But if it's meant to happen, it'll happen. So Mark, if you're out there and somehow reading this, get in touch. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Weird, Weird, Weird Year

It's been a weird start to the year. 

I know the past few years have been weird anyway, but I had expected that to have ended by now. On top of that, there have been a few events and circumstances which have created a weird vibe.

I have had a few moments where I have seen through the veil, seen a few things for what they are, and unburdened myself of a few things.  And that has been healthy. I've also taken on a few healthier aspects, made some decisions, and changed directions with some stuff. And don't read too much into any of this. None of this is huge, life-changing stuff, just a few minor things which have eased my mind.

I am awaiting some news, hopefully good news, which I will share when I can. Something which will feel good and validate some work I've done and decisions I've made. And even if the news isn't what I hope, that's fine. Disappointing, but understandable.

Ah yes, a completely cryptic post in which I haven't really said anything. And I know if I read this in a couple of years time, I'll have absolutely no idea about what I am referring to.

Oh dear. At least it will be a mystery to keep me entertained.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Reputations.

I've been thinking about reputations recently. People, places, companies - many have reputations for this or that.  For being friendly, funny, charming, authentic, honest. And sometimes they are, but sometimes they're not.

I recently visited a market town which has a reputation for being a place which delights foodies. It also has a reputation, and promotes itself as being charming, old fashioned, and some culture. I was rather surprised to visit and see none of that. It was rather disappointing, particularly as we had driven some distance out of our way to have a look.

Of course I recognise that we all have different perceptions, we all see things in different light. But apart from a small deli and a farmers market on the way out of town, there was no indication that this village had any culinary delights to offer. In fact I really only saw chain bakeries and supermarkets. Perhaps it is a hidden gem, which they only show to special visitors.

Over the years I've been invited to meet people with a reputation. One in particular was described to me (by several people) as being "very creative and imaginative."  We met, we talked, we exchanged ideas.  Their ideas were no more creative than those of the Year 8 students I was teaching at the time.  Looking back, I now recognise that the people who had described them as such were in a world which wasn't particularly creative.  I can say how comparatively, they might have believed this person was. The problem was, I think, that this person wanted to build this reputation, and to use it to get out of doing work.  When the team was doing all the hard work, they wouldn't go, and simply said, "I'm the ideas person."

More recently I was introduced to two people at the same time. The first used a term to describe themselves which is usually only used in newspaper articles, biographies and history books.  No one would ever use it to describe themselves. In the following discussion, they then use a word and said, "But you probably don't know what that means," and then went on to explain it. (I did know, but I didn't have a chance to say so!) Not to be outdone, the second person used another term to describe themself, and then out how clever and intelligent other people thought they were. 

We conversed for around thirty minutes on a subject in which both claimed to be specialists, but neither were particularly insightful, and indeed one was completely wrong on several counts. So much for a reputation created by and for yourself.

Many times I have taught students who had a reputation for being trouble and causing problems. I would always let them know at the start of the year that I didn't care what their reputation was, I would accept them based on how they behaved with me.  I can honestly say that with only a couple of exceptions, these kids were fine with me and caused little trouble.

Reputations are there to be tested. I don't ignore reputations, but I try to not believe them and discern what people are really like.

Sometimes, with a bad reputation, all we really want is to be proven wrong.