Dear reader, a reflective piece from Cecil in which he journey’s to the core of the confusion that lies at the very heart of contemporary society. And don’t ask us, (the editors) as we’re just as confused ourselves.
I’ve been feeling a bit grumpy of late. And I suppose that’s not surprising really, given that my name is synonymous with Lamentations, that wonderful Old Testament tome. The Lamentations of Jeremiah. Probably should be more grumpy, more often. Lord knows there’s enough to get grumpy about. I had a couple of good friends here for breakfast – I was going to say brunch, then you’d start to think mashed avocado, and I’d be labelled a latte swilling, chardonnay drink left wing yuppy elite. Well let me tell you we had no latte and no avo, mashed or otherwise. No, just a simple, but late breakfast, scrambled eggs (done the way Nero Wolfe likes them: “The client had admitted to Wolfe, in my hearing, that she didn’t know how to scramble eggs. . . He had admitted to her, in my hearing, that forty minutes was more than you could expect a (woman) to spend exclusively on scrambling eggs, but he maintained that it was impossible to do it to perfection in less with each and every particle exquisitely firm, soft and moist.) with smoked Salmon, dill, capers, all on freshly baked (by me) wholemeal bread, followed by hand ground coffee, freshly brewed. Our freshly squeezed orange juice was augmented by a touch of grated ginger and a slash of fresh grapefruit juice’.
As I say, just simple country fare, not an elite in sight. Then this idiot, this friend of mine starts to wind me up. The Banks, he starts, those rapacious bloody banks. Something really ought to be done about them, he says. I respond by saying they are in the business of selling money, of offering a service, and to my mind and in my experience they do it pretty damned well. If I’m late repaying my credit card they charge a very high interest rate. Well, of course they do. This is an unsecured loan and I’m outside the agreed terms and conditions. What would I expect I say, they are working in a system where it is quite important for businesses to make a profit. In fact some would argue that is the purpose of business. No, he says, they are rapacious bastards. I lie down with a damp cloth over my head and try to think. Is this “Bank Bashing” a throw back to our anti-semitic past? Of course not, these bank bashers only have the interests of the vulnerable at heart. And I now realise that Banks are ruining society as we know it with what must be a non-jewish conspiracy.
Then the other day another of my dear friends caused me palpitations. I called in to see this friend at her place of work before going for my weekly game of golf. (Actually I’m the only person who calls what I play “golf”, to the others it is totally unrecognisable as such.) The golf club is in fine fettle, the course wonderfully kept, by a diligent and hardworking ground staff. The club is managed by a competent administrator who seems to keep most people happy most of the time. The club has a strong competition, men and women play most days. The fees for this club are about a quarter of those at most golf clubs. This means that many more people can afford to be members and play regularly. We are talking a saving of $1500 on membership each year, that is about $30 per week. For many of us who play that is quite a sum. I regularly play with an 85 year old, this is his exercise, this is his friendship group, this is his “Mens Shed”. And it the “Mens Shed” for many others who play. I reckon it takes a lot of work away from health professionals and from counsellors, and quite probably reduces domestic violence.
However there may be a problem. The Golf Club has gaming machines. It is the profit from these that subsidises the running costs of the club. My friend told me how dreadful these gaming machines were. How they absolutely ruined lives. How they prey on the vulnerable. How they were addictive. I suggested a couple of things. Firstly that gambling was not compulsory. Secondly that the staff at the Golf Club are acutely aware of their responsibilities to the gamblers, and to the reputation of the Club. The staff turnover is very low, they live locally and know most locals who gamble there. The staff feel that societal ‘duty of care’. That our Government has approved gambling and if the machine were not at the Golf Club then they would most likely be at a Pub in the town where the impacts and controls would be much more private.
Yet again I needed to lie down. Yet again I needed the damp cloth on my brow. Yet again I’m perplexed by people knowing what is good (or bad) for others, others more ‘vulnerable’ than themselves. Is it any wonder the despicable Donald Trump is President Elect of the USA?