Wednesday, 21 July 2010

More semantics

Considering the difficulty most of us have in commuicating accurately with one another, it continues to amaze me how closely related but diametrically opposed, (nearly typed "diabolically") some words, or the use of them, can be. On the other hand, it may be the meaning with which we imbue the words that is the challenge. Example: recently, I was charged with the sin of vanity. Heaven forbid; I assure you, I have no grounds whatsoever on which to base vanity. What is really going on when I show over-concern for my appearance or curse the wind which has blown my entire morning's work in to a haystack, is a lack of confidence. I do feel more confident tackling a challenging world with tidy hair, don't you? When I put this to the Guru, who was detained on one occasion behind my despairing clutch of the mirror at the front door, he was generous enough to admit that this was the case for him, too. Now, those of you who have been kind enough to keep up, may remember that I was rushed out of A and E and on to a ward at the local hospital because his exceeding good looks were distracting the busy A and E nurses. He has much to be vain about. However, this is not how he sees himself. One example does not constitute a thesis, I know, but think about it. Real vanity must involve a degree of confidence that over-rides all doubt. It may even go against the view of the rest of the world with regard to the attributes of the vainglorious. That makes me think of pride. It must be permissable to have pride, even in one's appearance, without being vain. Mind you, no-one can be held responsible for his/her looks. Surely, they are a gift of Nature, or whatever you happen to believe in. You can take pride in keeping things in the best condition you can manage, but is that vanity? As it happens, I can see that I am vain in retrospect. I promise this was not the case at the time, but, now, I am vain about the figure I lost too many years ago. Dear Readers, as we speak, I am 'D' shaped. I am much the same shape I was carrying the last - and the other - of my children. Well, there you are. Next time you disparage someone for vanity, look and see whether or not he/she is afraid of the dark, addressing a meeting or going to a party made up largely of strangers. If so, you are very probably looking at a lack of confidence.

Similarly, (is it?), I am exercised by minding one's own business. How do you feel when you have been asked a question that seems intrusive or impertinent? Affronted, you may well respond: yes, indeed. But, a big but, what if your interlocutor's interest in you was a loving and concerned interest, not at all prurient ? You have to see that there is an essential difference. For instance, were I to ask a young woman of my acquaintance whether or not she, herself, had had too much to drink at a party she had described as totally out of control and 'neighbour-call-the-police' debauched, she may well reply it was none of my business, angry with it. The situation could be diffused if I were to point out that the question in no way sprang from judgementalism but from a loving concern in her well-being and an interest in how she lived her life. It is still none of my business? No doubt many people would agree with you. Subtly though, the shades of semantic difference are what makes for good relating: Prurience and judgement are not the same as benevolent interest. "Life's too short", I hear in the ether. Life is never too short for a precise and varied use of language. What do you think?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sticking plasters

In various places over my torso and on the front of my shoulders are some round and some square sticking plaster marks. I expect you will want to know why. Well, I have been strapped up to a monitor via a number of electrodes the base of which act as sticking plasters. In a way that proved a little challenging for this elderly lady, I was whisked in to hospital because my heart was beating about twice as fast as it was engineered to beat. These palpitations started about tea-time and I lay on the bed with my book patiently waiting for them to stop. I tried various ways of breathing around them but nothing seemed to work, so I relied on the patience. The Guru did his best to persuade me there must be a more scientific approach and that the sensible thing to do was to ring the Doctor. Personally, in all my three score and more than ten, I have never encountered a health crisis other than latish on a Friday, that is after Surgery hours, at a weekend or on a Bank Holiday. This one was no exception. After the poor man had been up the stairs about forty three times, seen his beautifully presented open sandwich rejected and reminded me this business had, by now, been going on for five hours, I did ring the out of hours medical service and was finally convinced my omnipotence in relying on myself may well lead to my being 75 not-going-on-anywhere. I fussed about the disagreability of waiting hours in A and E, (ER to kind readers over the Pond) but, as it happened, I did not wait long enough even to have found a seat in the reception area. A wheel-chair, double doors, a corridor, much noise and a few seconds later, found me in a cubicle surrounded by a group of people none of whom looking in the least like George Clooney. Forfend that I should risk boring you. Let it just be known that, after several what one may call homely methods had been used and failed to kick start a more reasonable heart rhythm, I was given an injection that actually stopped my heart. As you will have guessed, that was momentary and, presently, it started up again at 90 to the minute instead of 180. I know all this because the kind Guru had stayed with me in A and E, (see above if you are still on the other side of the Pond) and was watching the monitor with a degree of fascination possible only in the intelligent young. Hence the link: I and the monitor were married via the sticky electrodes and a quantity of different coloured whatsits.

Other than the rings and bruises from things stuck in as well as on me, I am my old self again. I cant recommend a night in hospital, but I can certainly recommend the A and E experience. The heart-stop bit left me feeling as unwell as I can remember, thinking death might be rather better, but it was only a minute at the most. Nor did I encounter bright lights, nor loved ones that have passed on. You know, it was almost fun and even provided the Guru with an insight he might otherwise have had only from the Telly. The staff were in such good spirits in spite of what you can imagine was going on in the middle of a week-end night: people having been drinking as if there were never to be another opportunity and, indeed,some of them having met with accidents that put such an opportunity seriously at risk. When it was decided I must be found a bed, the Registrar who had been attending me, said that, in any case, we had to get the Guru out of A and E because, being rather better looking than George Clooney, he was distracting the nurses. There was another lovely moment when a male nurse, middle-aged and pony-tailed, an ER bit-part player, having established that I was to be kept in, that is, was alive enough to be kept in, turned to go, and, light as a feather, dry as a bone threw at us " Ah well, another life saved"; lovely. As it happens, I am pleased to have been saved. I just wish I could get rid of the sticky rings and squares - and yes, I have had several baths since. Two more things: any ideas about how, and diolch yn fawr Guru.