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Sunday, 23 October 2011

The pot called the kettle 'BLACK'

'I don't care what you think, it'll destroy lives, wreck your future, destroy your prospects. Hurt all the people that you love and undoubtedly they'll never look at you in the same way again. You have everything going for you, now you're willing to give it all up through a single act of callous selfishness and stupidity. Why on earth would you want to do that to the people that care so much for you?'

I guess this wasn't the answer my friend was expecting. His answer in return to me, was the greatest indication that my response had left him flabbergasted.

'I thought you'd be pleased that I was doing something different, that I was not being boring for a change, that I was, as you always say, living my life, exploring a little, getting some gratification. I don't understand you, this is your way of life and suddenly I attempt the same and you go mad at me. I'm really shocked you're such a hypocrite. It's almost as if you're not happy for me. Its really spiced my life up and injected some excitement into me and you just don't like it'

I think the expression coming to your mind is 'pot calling the kettle black'

Here's my response to his obvious disappointment.

'The way I live my life suits me and it's never going to change, on the other hand it's not appropriate for you. I don't want to see you facing the consequences that I don't give a damn about facing. Maybe, I'm the selfish one, maybe I don't care enough about people, that I constantly do the very things that could break their hearts, ravage their existence and crush their souls. You, well that's different, you cannot be me, I cannot envisage the very same repercussions in your life'

The bottom-line is, I'm certain we all break the rules, push the boundaries and naturally do some things that are grossly, socially unacceptable.

When my friend confessed his actions and intentions, I was horrified and instantly without hesitation thought of the dreadful ramifications he was heading for. Why on earth does he want to jeopardise his stable, perfectly formed life? Have I influenced him that badly, that he's willing to give up everything? Surely, he can see I'm totally different and that it's almost acceptable for me to pursue such a crooked and breakneck path.
Why would he want a slice of uncertainty, anxiety and dilemma that encapsulates my world? How on earth would he deal with the calamitous & mortifying predicaments he could find himself in?

Its utterly amazing how much we can influence, brainwash, manipulate the worlds of other people.
Everything we say and do has an input or result somewhere. Every single action has a direct chain-reaction, an upshot or at least the ability to change something, somewhere.

I had no idea that my casual and grossly embellished commentary about my life, those shenanigans, those little moments of naughty monkey-business could possibly determine the actions of another. its not as if I'm totally vociferous about what I do (partly because I just don't do much). Nevertheless, my opinions, wisecracks, exaggerations, maybe just my demeanor was enough to almost change the course of someone elses life and certainly NOT for the better. It had the propensity to annihilate his and the lives of others.

What an awesome tool we have, the power of influence and using positive strokes to improve & better people's lives. No matter who you are, no matter what your experiences are, unquestionably you have under estimated the power you have. Not just over friends but your family, your work colleagues, your business associates.
Think carefully, what are you saying and most importantly who are you saying it to.

So, back to my friend and the negative bias that was heading his way. Had I set him on a course of self-destruction? Would i be responsible for the ridiculous, deplorable & pitiful quandary ahead of him.

Actually, on this occasion NO, after much coaxing, coaching and swearing he absolutely promised to never drive at speeds of 100mph again, irrespective of the ensuing thrill :)
Me, even I've decided to review my dispensable behaviour, or at least not to make it sound so alluring.

Be careful about what you say (and consequently, what you do!!)
You never know who you're influencing!!!


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Beat it, Beat it, Beat it!!

Its a rainy, miserable Monday morning, sometime in the 1990's. Middle lane of the M6. Usual traffic gridlock with radio 1 blaring. As usual the DJ banter is trite & uninspiring, nevertheless it's  dullness is broken by an absolute tune, it's 'Beat it' by Michael Jackson.
 Me, being a 'dancer not a fighter' (of course) and totally oblivious to the passengers in the fast-lane car to my right, I start mouthing the words to the song and doing some random seated Michael Jackson  moves, including facial contortions!! (MJ would have probably moonwalked out of the room). I wish I'd known the spectators were watching with such huge amusement, I may have refrained from grabbing my crotch and doing an MJ style shout. They were laughing mercilessly , I was looking like a freak but at least the traffic was now moving. How embarrassing!!!
As usual, the traffic made me late, nevertheless I couldn't resist telling the first colleague I bumped into and anyone else that came my way about how I got caught 'beating it' by the passengers in the fast-lane. Everyone thought the story was hilarious, especially as I demonstrated the moves that had made me look such a plonker!!

Naturally, my boss at the time, had his own take on the situation, he was more concerned at my lateness, irrespective of the traffic and my dance routine and began to gratify himself by divulging his daily motorway routine and how he managed to get to work on time.

'I leave the house at the same time every day, 7.15am. Any later and the rest of the journey doesn't work. At exactly 7.29am I get to Junction 5 of the M6, I then stay in the fast-lane until 7.45am at which time right on cue the traffic builds up and I strategically move into the middle lane, which always moves faster. I stay there until 8.10am and then move to the fast-lane for the remainder of the journey. My precise routine works like a dream, I arrive at the office at exactly 8.30am, give or take a minute.  Plan your journey Michael, or you'll always be late and always be laughed at by people watching you grab your crotch'

After that intricate, unnecessary and soporific explanation, I was mesmerised. Not by the clever way my boss arrives on time but at how dull life must be to have such a precisely anal plan, just to get to work.
Is that the truest form of the 'rat race', knowing the exact timings of which lane to drive in? To feel so content that you've out maneuvered other drivers and literally knocked minutes off your journey time. Or is that the very reason my life is so aloof because I don't plan every single detail. I'm not entirely sure, however I still favoured grabbing my crotch and contorting my face. The conversation with my boss made me believe those seconds of humiliation were priceless compared to driving your car to a set anally retentive program. After all,  I too could arrive on time,  by just getting my a**e out of bed earlier!!

That drive to work and the conversations that followed, further concreted the saying I've always admired 'Life is what happens when you're planning the Future'.
Let me put that into perspective, I thoroughly understand the importance of PLANNING, it's an absolute necessity in business and so many other things we have to do, in order to fulfill our lives and efficiently achieve what we want to. I'm totally on board with that principle, I suspect very little has been ever achieved without an appropriate PLAN.
My issue (and I have plenty!!), is centered around SEEING, TOUCHING, FEELING and EXPERIENCING the magic, wonderment and surprise of TODAY and not losing that delightful acquaintance and intimacy to tomorrow. After all no one can predict what 'tomorrow' will bring.

Recently, I confessed I had a vintage bottle of 1999 Cristal Champagne at home, worth no less than £400 and that I was saving it for a special day, at that point I realised what I'd actually said (helped and pointed out by the person I was with!!).
'What special day?, what day can be more special than the day you're in? What day can be possibly more special, unique and amazing than today??, you could be dead tomorrow' was the classic retort.
Needless to say, that bottle of Cristal is now long gone and was gulped ungraciously at the first moment possible and do you know what? It was probably the most enjoyable drink EVER because it was drunk with an irreverence for tomorrow and a gratitude of this moment NOW!!

So, go forward and plan all you need to but remember to get off that train and visit every platform, admire it's beauty, it's charm, it's sanctity....smell the flowers, converse with the people, taste the ambrosia all around you!! And don't forget to dance like no-one is watching!!

Me, I'm off to have a bottle of Cristal and 'Beat it' good and proper!!

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Black Mamba Deluxe

The tears poured from her eyes and being the utter imbecile I was, I couldn't decide whether Janey was happy, embarrassed or totally p***ed off. I guess, either way it didn't matter because my stunt got the laughs and recognition I'd set out to get, unfortunately at someone else's expense.

Let's put you in the picture - I'm in my first Management position, it's an upbeat environment, where pranks and hi- jinx are common place. That's not a bad thing, the staff generally appreciate it, it relieves the tedium of long, laborious hours in a mundane job, long before the days of statutory minimum wage.
Anyway, the occasion, it's Janey's 30th Birthday. She is charming and lovely, however it's common knowledge she doesn't have a boyfriend, worst still it's common knowledge she really hasn't been too successful in that department, in fact to make things even worse still, there's a rumour she is still a virgin.

So, being the company clown I was always in charge of doing presentations for Birthdays, anniversaries etc, each one was always more outrageous than the one before.
Now Janey was always up for a laugh, so with the usual goading from the other staff, we had cooked up a real Birthday treat, one she (and subsequently me), wasn't going to forget in a hurry.
Everyone gathered around her work station and the tomfoolery began, culminating in her opening her selection of presents, it was the usual tat that colleagues put together, until it came to the last present, a big rectangle box.
Everyone stood there watching her face, they all knew what was coming and her face was certainly a picture as she opened the plain looking box.
Staring her in the face was a black, twin-speed, double stimulation, throbbing vibrator (known as the 'Black Mamba Deluxe') and it was ridiculously HUGE & extremely aggressive looking !!
Naturally, the staff were in fits of laughter at her shocked face and of course at the huge intrusive Black Mamba Deluxe.
The laughter intensified as one of them pressed a button on the massive device and it completely went out of control, like a loose fireman's hose walloping around, except this was twisting, vibrating, pushing & pulsating, it was a completely obscene and repugnant object, with a mind of its own!!
It was one of those moments that went down in company history. Churlish & juvenile but at the time, pathetically hilarious!!!
Janey, took it in her stride (the prank not the device!), nevertheless resigned weeks later.
On reflection (now that I'm slightly maturer and vibrators are just NOT funny anymore!!), it was a puerile, insensitive stunt, which fed on her insecurity and highlighted her embarrassment.

Weeks later on the way home I took a curve too fast (my driving was even worse than my pranks), I hit an oncoming lorry, the car was a write-off wreck, luckily I sustained no more than a few scratches.
My car was towed away never to be seen again.

As is customary, following any traffic accident, one has to take their licence and insurance to the Police Station within seven days.
So there I was, exactly seven days later in a queue at Coventry Police Station.
An unnerving queue largely made up of rowdy juveniles and generally unsavoury looking people, I couldn't wait to get out.
It finally came to my turn. At the desk was a young female police officer, I told her why I was there, gave her the slip and placed my required credentials on the counter.
She looked at the slip, looked at me and walked into the office behind her, by this time the queue behind me was even rowdier, predominantly male and probably there for greater offences than having a car crash (well at least based on the way they were acting, it suggested they had done more than just had an unfortunate encounter with a lorry, in fact judging the way some of them looked, no lorry would have been brave enough!)
The WPC returned clutching a form and a box, I couldn't help but notice the strange, coy (almost mischievous), even slightly perplexed look on her face.
Before I go any further, can you recall moments when you wish;
A. You could disappear
B. Everyone else could disappear
C. It's all a terrible nightmare and in a moment you'll awake and be blissfully happy, that it wasn't real.

Well, I went through all of the above and EVERY embarrassed emotion you can ever imagine and would never want to be in, as she smirked, blushed, put on a serious face and pulled out (from the box), the Black Mamba Deluxe.
She went red, I went white and the Black Mamba Deluxe (with it's abrupt and nervous plonking down on the desk), started to vibrate and spiral uncontrollably.
For those few seconds my entire life flicked past my eyes, the BMD was out of control, as was the laughter of the people queuing behind me.
It shook, it pumped and it writhed - a bit like me really, as I was trying to explain this obscure situation and with each word, I made the situation worse.
You've probably gathered by now, that Janey (naturally), hadn't taken the BMD home. As I was the protagonist in the adolescent prank (after much malarkey), had just left it in the boot of my car, with all the other rubbish that was there and weeks on had totally forgotten about it.
I finally switched the BMD off, unfortunately the raucous guffawing and gesturing behind me continued, including a few wolf-whistles and several lewd comments, as I left the establishment.

So the moral of the story, (other than don't carry obscene marital aids in your car), think twice before you play pranks on people, or embarrass them publicly.

Building your own profile at the expense of someone else is weak, odious & belligerent. It's never worth the few inconsiderate and boorish laughs, if your subject is knowingly going to be uncomfortable.
In fact, it usually highlights your own inadequacy and shortcomings and if you know people like that, you're just as bad if you're fuelling their malevolent behaviour by joining in or laughing along.

I'm off to check the boot of my car.........


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pink Taxis, Dancing Men and HOPE!!

'I get you taxi, you go dancing'

Was what the concierge said on the steps of the Grand Oriental Hotel, in Bangkok on a hot, humid afternoon.
I didn't really want a taxi, I just wanted a quick walk, before we resumed filming a promotional video of the city. It's 40c and I'm wearing an obligatory white (one size too small), T Shirt.
The taxi he beckoned, before I'd even deciphered what he'd said, was bright PINK, with an even brighter PINK interior!!

'Get in, get in, you like, dancing men'

What was even more worrying than that line was the awful little move he did to emulate dancing.
However, it was the 'dancing men' bit that threw me.
At this point our English tour guide turned up and said something to the concierge, at which point the concierge clicked his fingers and the hideous Pink taxi drove across the road.
Their conversation continued for a few minutes, throughout which the tour guide kept saying 'NO' (even I can understand universal gestures!!)

Once they'd stopped talking, the tour guide explained what the conversation was about.
Pink Taxi's symbolise (you guessed it!!)...GAY!!
The concierge had decided I'd prefer the company of dancing men, hence beckoned the Pink Taxi, which was prepared to take me to such an establishment, frequented by (you guessed it again!!), 'dancing men'.
TYPICAL!!! I've got no issue with pink taxis or dancing men, my issue was with the concierge prejudging what I wanted (which as you remember, was NO MORE than a WALK!!).
That wasn't all, it got worse!!
The tour guide went onto rub further salt into an already smarting wound.
I asked why the concierge was laughing so much and continued to laugh heartily.
The tour guide said he'd told him I wasn't interested in men and that I was heterosexual.........that was the cause of his raucous laughter!!!!
Marvellous!!! with that uncontrollable laughter from the concierge, the honking pink taxi across the road (which was still hanging around!!), I put on my best macho (not mince), walk and went off into the streets of musty, dusty & steaming Bangkok.

I stood looking into a shop window, more at my reflection that the forged rubbish on sale, I was seething that somehow the way I looked, gave the driver of a pink taxi the hope of a fare!!
My self pity and vanity was rudely interrupted as I felt something around my ankle, I jumped, I was startled, I nearly stumbled with shock.
It was a grubby, grizzled man lying on his front, on the dirty cockroach infested pavement, clutching my ankle with his dirty, boney hand.
Before I even had a second to react, the shop-keeper, whilst shouting oriental abuse, came charging out of his shop and kicked the man lying on the floor.
The man rolled in pain, no one on the street even batted an eyelid, my ankle was free and the angry shop-keeper hustled me into his shop.
I'm now in shock, not just because I'm in a shop full of forged belts, wallets, & watches but as the man on the pavement rolled over (so easily), I noticed there were no legs in his trousers, which of course explained why he was dragging himself along, eating dust and being trodden on.
In his pigeon-English the shop-keeper apologised for the legless vagrant, who had dared to touch me and then insisted I buy some of the s***e from his shop, because he had clearly saved me from the ordeal on the pavement.
I thanked him for his huge act of courage and left his shop.

Outside, I couldn't help but notice the legless vagrant dragging himself further down the street, considering the human traffic, it was amazing how far he had gone, especially as his only mode of transport was his belly and his fingertips.
Suddenly (as is common in such humid countries), it started to rain ferociously, I ran back to the hotel, people took cover in the shops, the legless vagrant with his face on the dirty wet pavement, just carried on crawling and got drenched.

Next afternoon (now wearing a one size too small, black T Shirt), I got past the laughing concierge, the honking pink taxi and I was back on the street for my afternoon walk.
Not to my surprise at all, there was the legless vagrant again (after all where else was he going to go!!), once again crawling along the filthy pavement.
This time I couldn't help but notice he was smiling and seemed relatively happy (I'm sure he did yesterday, I just didn't notice as he was being kicked by the shop-keeper!!).
He looked up at me (naturally didn't grab my ankle this time), I bent down and handed him 1000Baht (about £15), his smile turned into an endless toothless grin and hoisting himself upwards onto his chest, using his worn out elbows, he put his hands together in a praying motion and thanked me for my gesture, before falling back to the floor.
He then continued to crawl down the street, amidst the dirt, the dust and the disgusting crawling insects (some the size of large grapes!!)

Take what you want from my brief Bangkok escapade, for me it was all about HOPE, what on earth gives someone (as with many millions of people around the world), the HOPE to carry on, accept the s**t hand that's been dealt to them and still SMILE, it certainly put into sharp perspective my disgruntled and pathetic self-pity, about a prejudging concierge, pink taxi & dancing men!!

'When the world shouts it's all over - HOPE whispers in your ear and tells you to carry on!!'

(Taxi for) MK

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Secrets, Lies & Skanky girls!!

'OMG, that's f***ing outrageous, she's an absolute dog, were you drunk, was it a bet you lost, she's nasty & skanky' was the insensitive, red-neck, unnecessary reply that spouted from my vulgar mouth. After the confession from one of my (very few, and getting fewer by the minute), best friends, that he had slept with 'Skanky Sarah' (please note- I'm not really sure what 'Skanky' means either, it's some sort of derogatory colloquialism for undesirable - sounds appropriate though!!)
I'm not sure what was more of a shock, his face (at my reply), or the fact that he had slept with SS.

At this point, my friend was regretting telling me his sordid secret, I'm assuming he had a vain hope that I might understand that these things sometimes happen and that he just needed to get the ordeal of SS off his (clearly easily tempted), chest.
That particular evening resulted in one hilarious (and condescending), comment after another. Which (once the shock was over), was fine among friends discussing a secret.

The point of this story wasn't the confession my friend made, neither was it Skanky Sarah. I'm certain many of us are shocked by revelations on many occasions. No, no the point was what I did next, which was even worse than sleeping with SS!!! (not that I would know of the SS experience, having never been there - Honest!!)

Here goes, a few months later, I was with a  different friend, at which point I committed a cardinal sin, I used the phrase, which condemns us to a hell of no integrity & mistrust........'I'm going to tell you a secret BUT you must not tell anyone else' - for the purpose of titillation, humour and scandal I (after using that hellish phrase),  told someone about my other friend sleeping with SS (AND embellished the story with some extra facts/LIES about poor old Skanky, to make the story even more salacious and controversial). At the time, in my tiny mind I'd covered myself by saying 'you must not tell anyone else', however what I'd really done, was let my friend down by being a d**k-head who couldn't hold onto a secret and was prepared to get a few laughs at the expense of another. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!

THINK ABOUT IT - How many times have you done that?? How many times have you let someone down that had trusted you with a secret? By using the phrase (or similar) 'It's a secret but I trust you not to tell anyone else'

To make matters worse (and some may say 'serves you right'), it's also happened to me, I've confessed things that have spread like wildfire - and really hurt when I've found out that other people use that dreaded phrase 'I'm going to tell you a secret, but you mustn't tell anyone else'

People NEED people to trust in, people NEED people to confess to - Why? because it makes them feel better, worthwhile and in some cases lifts a burden that they've been carrying - one which would come crashing down like a tonne of bricks,  if they discovered you'd used that dreaded phrase.

Back to the saga of Skanky Sarah. The friend who I'd told someone elses secret to had less integrity than me and continued to tell others, using the same phrase 'I'll tell you but don't tell anyone else', until finally (you guessed it), it got back to my friend. Suffice to say, we're no longer friends, Skanky Sarah is still Skanky (and took her own revenge - which is a good story for another day!!), and I  learnt a valuable lesson - If someone trusts you enough to tell you a secret, then you MUST (and remember this phrase), 'TAKE IT TO THE GRAVE'.

TODAY, I carry the secrets of many, everything from mad, sordid to illegal, but I will 'TAKE IT TO THE GRAVE!!'

On a different point, do you carry any burdens that you've never confessed? Do you even have someone in your life trusted enough with your secrets. Why? Because there are times when you just NEED to tell someone, it brings about an almighty lifting sensation and suddenly your problems & challenges are halved.
Try it, it'll really help you feel better!!
Of course the tricky bit is trusting someone enough. If you don't have any such people in your life, then why not start with yourself, become the person that 'takes it to the grave', don't EVER fall foul of the phrase 'I'll tell you, but you mustn't tell anyone else'.
Becoming a trusted person is an uplifting experience within itself, knowing that under no circumstances will you tell anyone else, secrets that someone has trusted you with.

I do hope this story has made at least one person question their trustworthiness and possibly change for the better - Remember, PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE THAT CAN BE TRUSTED!!


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cheapskates in tight T-Shirts

5pm, Saturday 2nd April 2011, Tesco Extra Coventry.

In walk two chunky men, wall to wall tattoos, sprayed on T Shirts (I know, I've got some of those too, however theirs were filled with bulging biceps, mine are just a deliberate size too small!!!) and very short hair.
Anyway, (and here's some of that prejudging that seems to be so inherent - they were either gay dancers or fascists!!), they looked mean and incapable of stringing two sentences of pleasantries together (especially if they had to address me!!), or they were going to be ridiculously camp and mince & quick-step their way round the store.
Either way, I wasn't going to step out of the way, even though their Lynx odour was overpowering, I found their banter amusing (which upon hearing, I decided they weren't about to mince & quick-step!!).
First TT (Tight T-Shirt), says 'F**k me, I 'aint buying Thorntons, them are a f***ing rip-off!!'
Second TT, replies 'I 'aint buying s**t this year, lets get the f**king beer'

Let me enlighten you, it was the Saturday evening before Mothers Day and the Beefy Brothers were clearly considering (or not in one case), buying gifts for their respective Mothers.

Anyway, first TT squealed (actually it was a shout, but it sounds funnier to say 'squeeled'),
'f**ing half-price, sorted, let's go'

It transpires first TT discovered some half-price chocolates for £3 and swiftly threw back the £10 Thorntons ones.

I was not going to be judgemental (other than the way they were dressed, tattooed, head-shaved, smelt and acted!!!), so what if they skimped on a few pounds and opted for cheapo chocolates, after all Mothers day is just another institutionalised commercial, money making scam - or is it??
Whatever your feelings about Mothers Day, most of the nation celebrate it in one way or another (and hopefully express some GRATITUDE - therefore institutionalised commercialism or not - it's PRICELESS!!)

I stopped myself again, what if the oiks just didn't have the cash, then surely the cheaper option was still a wonderful gesture, of course that was it, a gesture is a gesture, no matter what it costs. EXCEPT, I saw the Tight T-Shirts at check-out, they had so much alcohol in their trolley, that the cheapo chocolates were teetering on top (precariously balancing on a litre of Vodka).
They flung the chocolates onto the checkout almost like they were a threat to their precious Vodka, which incidentally, they gently handled like one would handle a new born baby.

Anyway (rightly or wrongly), it seemed to bother me, even more their clothes & aftershave did!!

But why did it bother me so much ?
Was it because I'd give my right arm to be in their position (I don't mean the tattoos & T-Shirts), I mean to still have a Mother, so I too could buy Mothers Day gifts.
NO, it seemed to be more than that.

My Tesco experience haunted my mind for days and days, provoking much thinking & deliberating.
Then the realisation....S**t!! who was I kidding?
My angst was deeper rooted, in fact my angst was borne of the disturbing fact I may have had the same attitude towards Mothers Day as the TT brothers.
That's was GUILT!!!!!
Guilt that I would have bought cheapo chocolates (and probably balanced them on a litre of Vodka!!), guilt that I would have also taken Mother for granted, guilt because now she's gone I can't do bugger-all about it and guilt because if I had the chance now, it would all be so different.

Why do we only see the true value of anything, when we no longer have it??

Think about it!!!
Within seconds (if you're honest), you will come up with a list of people or things in your life that you completely and utterly take for granted and rather worryingly (in some cases), that could be your own parents, partners, children, even best friends (let alone materialistic possessions such as jobs, homes & cars etc)

'Most human-beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted'

I don't have the answer, I (like so many), learnt the hard way, maybe we all do, maybe that's the circle of life, that we only learn once we lose, that we are only grateful once we can't grasp the very thing we had, that GRATITUDE is something that hits us ALL, when we have no other option, when it's just too late!!

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.  ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition

So, go and count those blessings, understand what you have and the value it holds.
I truly believe all beauty, all things and all the forthcoming attractions you desire, will evade you and your life, until you are truly accepting & grateful, for whatever you already have in your hands today.

Of course, I could be wrong BUT do you really want to wait till it's too late??

MK (in a T-Shirt that is clearly too small!!)


Sunday, 27 March 2011

'Happy, Jolly and Oh So Lively'

'Are you gay?'

Was the totally out of the blue, indignant question.
Which resulted in my customary stuttering and obligatory lispy tone reply,

'What do you mean, kinda really happy, as in jolly & gay, in which case YES, I'm always happy,  jolly & oh so lively and oh so GAY'
(immediately, I'd realised the 'oh so' part of my reply wasn't necessary!!)

Let me set the scene, decadent bar in a luxurious hotel, in central Paris. Surrounded by incentive winners and the person intrigued by my 'oh so' gay-ness, a seasoned business leader, who constantly preaches not to prejudge!!!

'No, no, no I don't mean that Mike, not Happy, I mean do you bat for the other side?'

'What ? Like play cricket for India, no I'm not very sporty and I hate cricket'  was my, digging myself further reply.

'No Mike!!' clearly getting frustrated, edgy and (unfortunately), louder and attracting attention from others,  'I'll ask you straight, are you a homosexual??'

Suddenly, there was SILENCE in the otherwise rowdy bar (it seemed at least to me), you could have heard a pin drop...........Slight pause, wry smile, no direct reply, but a question instead.

'Interesting question, one which I'll gladly answer, if you tell me why you ask'

Now it was his turn to stutter and not look so confident.

'Err not like I'm interested or anything, as you know I'm married'

Well that was a sigh of relief!! Not that I was asking that!! Anyway, he continued (probably wishing he'd never asked in the first place!!)

'Well Mike, it's like this, you're well dressed, you're politely spoken, you're not afraid to wear bright colours, my wife never feels uncomfortable around you and loves talking with you and oh yes, you never talk about your private life, so that's led US to believe you're probably gay'

At this moment in time (especially as the whole bar now seemed interested), thanks to the ounce of common sense that intervened, the words that came to mind were not the words that materialised through my mouth.
After all, I didn't want to insult this esteemed leader, even though he had just demonstrated a complete lack of tact, judgement and general people skills.

'You said US, you mean there are more of you, oh you tease, I'm just glad you didn't know, I soooo love musicals, have the entire Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross collections, oh and of course, I'm such a FABULOUS dancer too'

Unfortunately, that sentence came out in an extremely camp voice (well you try and say it ANY other way!!)
At which point, people laughed, he was red-faced and clearly wished he could disappear, I walked (some would say 'minced'), off  with my double Babycham!!

(Incidentally, the only reason his wife didn't feel uncomfortable around me, was because I was one of the few men that didn't stare at her breasts...........well not blatantly anyway!!)

PRECONCEPTION & PREJUDGEMENT, surely two mindsets that can deviate the mind into incorrect thoughts and feelings, which could result in the wrong actions being taken.

Yet it's so unavoidable, we're programmed with EVERY thing that happens to us from the moment we're born, not to mention poisoning from the media and the influence of all the people we meet during our lives.

A colleague of mine introduced me to their new partner, who just happened to be wearing a brown cord jacket, instantly I thought, DULL Geograpgphy Teacher.
Why? Because somewhere in my tiny mind is a memory of a dull geography teacher who wore similar clothes, therefore my brain had recalled such memories and associated them to this person.
On this occasion, I was RIGHT - totally DULL!! Or was it that with my prejudging he never got a fair chance from the outset, I had already decided he was going to be dull, hence my interaction with him may have been lack-lustre, which may have resulted his being the same in return.

In fact, I can guarantee YOU have made hundreds of such prejudgements just this week, ones which have directed, coloured and channelled your views, actions & emotions.
People say don't prejudge, that's a VERY tall order and one that goes against EVERYTHING we've ever learnt during the path of our lives, (both consciously and subconsciously). Yet imagine how different things could be if you could take everything and everyone, on their own individual merit.
Think of some of the decisions you've made in the last few days, there is no doubt 100% (rightly or wrongly), have been based on preconceived ideas & emotions.
Think further, imagine the difference in the world - there are major conflicts, loss of lives and huge wars caused by prejudging.

The answer isn't simple, except to consciously assess almost EVERY thought you have and by doing so teach your mind to question it's own learning, try it for a DAY, question every idea, every feeling and every action you take - undoubtedly you will THINK, SEE and ACT differently.

The way we view others can seriously affect our personal and professional lives.
It's an area of human nurture, learning & mindset I find fascinating and one that is almost impossible to conquer - let me know how you get on and how you personally try and change the learning's of a lifetime (either publicly through this blog or you can email me at Michael.Khatkar@SKY.COM)

In the meantime, I fancy some dancing to a rousing rendition of Gloria Gaynor's 'I am, what I am'