Sylvia Shawcross

Some days I convince myself that nothing is actually happening and all we have is a whole bunch of people convincing us that things are happening. I mean I’m sitting here on the 13th of March wondering who has won the battle of Bakhmut in the Ukraine because there are two narratives both claiming victory and that is the way it is.

By the time this is published maybe we will know. The proof will be in the pudding and it all comes out in the wash. Unless it is chocolate pudding because that stain is a difficult one to get out of particularly woolen long johns. So unless there is long john evidence involved in Bakhmut, we’ll never really know. We aren’t sitting in a bunker in the Ukraine. Thankfully.

But it makes you wonder doesn’t it? What we will ever really know about anything. The best that we can do is try and predict at least for our own safety and that of our loved ones but beyond that it is mostly ego with opinions. None of us want to have the woolen long johns pulled over our eyes so we spend a lot of time hoping to be proven right about whatever it is we’re going on about. Sometimes if only to explain why we have fourteen cans of green beans in the front closet. No one wants to look the fool after all.

They are only there to provide a forum for your eventual sanctimonious smile in front of an admiring crowd where you get to feed hungry people green beans and blackberry chutney on tin plates with homegrown elderberry cider to wash it all down with. Because you were right and that is the important thing.

If the truth be known, we all want to smile sanctimoniously—it’s a terribly ugly but impelling human need. Being right is right up there with food and water and a roof over our heads. I’m absolutely certain that Maslov, when developing his “pyramid of needs” scratched that truth in there in red ink at the bottom and it got lost in the editing. I mean, what is the whole point of living if you’re not right about most everything? What is the point of living if you can’t give your wild opinion and upset at least half the people in the room? Fading into the wallpaper of common opinion is a stance that ages you before your time.

Who wants that?!

The danger of course in understanding this is that one can sometimes be tempted to create an opinion so far from normal that it is sure to upset everyone. Just for the reaction. It’s a writer’s favourite thing when they’re bored. So I’ve spent the day looking for an opinion to upset everybody. To break the monotony of doom and misery. This is a very difficult task because in this world nothing shocks anymore. When they’re doing drag queen bondage shows for babies what is there left? When celebrities are contemplating making designer meat from themselves for public consumption? When even Nato couldn’t join Nato by its own criteria?

In the days before these days it was always good advice to never discuss politics, religion or sex. This always kept you out of trouble. Now of course, these are the ONLY things to discuss. So perhaps it is the discussion of the mundane that is the real shock. Could it be? No. Maybe. Well if men can be women and war can be peace and love can be hate there is no reason why mundane can’t be shocking.

The weather used to be the go to humdrum conversation but no more. Now it is full of drama and red banners and warnings and watches and climate change frenzied flagellation. What now then are we left with for the mundane? Let me tell you—not a lot.

It has taken me hours of dull contemplation to finally find the mundane topic for us all to keep life exciting in conversations: Musca domestica. The common housefly. There.

Now, when caught at the local lineup in the market and forced into acknowledging another human being and possibly having to interact with them, you have a topic of conversation to keep you out of trouble. You can always open up with “Quite the common fly season we’re having this year!” Or “Have you ever noticed that the common fly has red eyes?” Or “The common house fly is the most widely distributed insect around the world.” And they will agree being absolutely shocked at such a boring thing and so after their feeble “yes” and strange look in return, the interaction will come to an end and nobody got hurt in the process. It was indeed a very unexpected thing to greet someone with after all. In this respect it was a wildly exciting opinion.

Just a small warning not to do this too often or you yourself might end up as the topic of conversation for everyone else and that would just end up with you being interesting and we wouldn’t want that.

I’ve now done my bit for the improvement of humanity. You’re welcome.

Earworm for the week:

“Birds are the eyes of heaven, and flies are the spies of hell.”
Suzy Kassem

Syl Shawcross lives somewhere and writes things now and then. Please note this piece is somewhat sarcastic and I honestly do not believe that being right is a reason for living. In fact, the need to be right is probably the problem with the whole wide world right now…. And also, if you are actually able to feed starving people anything it is probably more an act of love than sanctimony. For most. Consider subscribing to if so inclined.


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