Cut To The Chase

If there is one thing in life I am really terrible at – it is having serious personal conversations. I don’t know what it is or where it comes from – the irrational fear that being honest will hurt someone and the fear of the sadness of having to say goodbye. The ironic thing is – in my job – I have  important conversations with people about themselves and nothing comes easier. I guess when it’s someone else’s life – the repercussions seem distant, the effects will never be known to you. It’s a job that you’ve done, and the aftermath of which is not your problem anymore. You, the deliverer have delivered,  and now the problem must be reckoned with by that person alone. But when it’s you, your problem, your delivery and your reckoning – it all changes doesn’t it ? For me at least it does. And so out of an inability to get the horrible adulting out of the way – I end up in  a line of traffic –  the “should have saids”  like cars in mind keeping me at a personal standstill whilst the world bustles on around me.

But out of a series of personal revelations  I’ve come to realise that however horrible and sad goodbyes are, it’s not worth putting off things you know you need to do. Life is too short. I’d rather remember the good memories and not of the foreboding anxiety I had when I was constantly putting serious conversations off. That’s right – I’ve learned at last that sometimes you just need to cut to the chase.

The origin of the saying ” cut to the chase” is thought to herald from old silent movies. These 1920’s films usually followed similar plot lines – a tumultuous love affair depicted by longing glances between the hero and heroine. Now for whatever reason, these love affairs climaxed with a car chase.  Unorthodox I know but whatever floats your boat. Perhaps the first 3/4 of the movie was made for the female viewers and the director remembered that the male members of the audience would need a testosterone fuelled action scene to once again arouse their interest at the films end. Who knows, but it is believed that ” cut to the chase” was first used in this context and was a direction from the script of “Hollywood Girl” in 1929:

” Jannings escapes . Cut to the chase”

In modern day it is used less literally and more figuratively to describe getting to the point. It’s easier said than done, and sometimes it is simpler to be a passenger in life. But as easy as it is to go along with things and trundle along in a car that badly needs a repair, in a pursuit of something you know you do not want,  it is better to be the script writer and director of your own film. Cut to that chase and let the end credits roll to one chapter of your life and the titles run of the next.

 

 

Advertisements

Break the Ice

There is possibly nothing worse than an awkward silence – where thirty seconds feels as if the universe could have been destroyed, dissolved and reborn all in that moment.

They say that silence is golden – but there comes a time when somethings are not worth their weight in gold, and  awkward first encounters , and the potential chorus of silence that can ensue from them – is one.

Don’t get me wrong – you can have silence  that doesn’t invoke terror . In fact those moments are one of the most humbling of all – to be so comfortable with someone that there are no need for words and just being is enough. Alas analysing even those relationships  you realise that everything always has to start somewhere. Everything has a beginning – a first encounter.

Sometimes meeting new people is an informal thing and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s a group activity day organised by the powers  high up at work to boost sales by  strengthening team morale. Sometimes it’s a friend introducing  you to a mutual friend and as a result you all having to try and find common ground.

But what is the default setting amongst these type of encounters? It’s the need to

Break the Ice.

Breaking the ice is often used to describe trying to make small dents in the citadel of a introductory social meeting. It is the act of trying to make thing less awkward , to get things going .

But are things always so frosty? Where did breaking the ice come from ?

It is thought that the saying originated back when shipping was the main mode of both transportation and trade. Naturally shipping in the winter was hindered by the cold weather and port harbours would lose out on trade due to ships being frozen  in ice at sea. The trading town would send out small ships known as “ice breakers” to sail towards the frozen cargo , thus creating a break in the ice behind it and forming a path for the frozen ship to follow back to the port.  And so breaking the ice came about.  Ice breakers- the small ships sent out to rescue the frozen trade ships  –  allowed the port harbours to continue to trade and thrive throughout winter months.

Simon and Garfunkel once said that : ” No one dared disturb the sound of silence,” but alas all they needed was a good ice breaker !

 

 

 

 

Start From Scratch

I have been travelling down a road. It is not a main road nor is it a cobbled path. This road has been long and enduring. The terrain at times rocky. There have been pit stops along the road – taverns and inns  – where I have met new people and learned new things about the world and myself – learned who I want to be and how I want to continue along the road. The road had turns – some sharp enough to teach me lessons about the cruelty that life can bring. But the road, at times, was accompanied by beautiful sights – some  enough to teach me that sometimes it is the journey rather than the destination which holds more reward for your soul.

And now this road,  has come to a junction. Abrupt yet subconsciously always expected – this new turn, this new path – is daunting. I have been slowing down in anticipation of it for a while now, yet I had never believed it would arrive. Am I equipped for where this new road goes? Will I be able to join it safely or will fear overcome me and will I need to stop completely? I had become so used to the old road, I could handle its bumps – for I had had years of learning its tricks.

This road  is a metaphor for where I feel I am in life right now . I have arrived at a point in my life which holds new opportunities, new prospects and new goals. But therein lies the rub- everything is new. It feels like everything I had done prior, all the relationships I had built, all the ways I had begun to love and feel at home in a city, all had to be said goodbye to  – not forever  – but for some time.

Everything feels like it has to be started from scratch.

Which got me thinking – why do we start from scratch? What is a scratch ? (Apart from something you itch )

The word scratch in today’s world is used to describe the beginning of something, or the start of something with no advantage in it. Its origin heralds from the world of sport.  Like most sports, cricket involves lines which demarcate  boundaries which cannot be crossed. The most important line for the batsmen  is the crease. Back in the 18th century , these lines – were etched – or scratched, into the ground. This was also the case in the world of boxing, where boxers were not permitted to cross the line on the ground afore them .

And so players were told to start from scratch.

Writing this has taken my mind off of the scratch that lies ahead of me .I am leaving the pavilion, helmet in hand, armoured with pads to protect me from the game of life, bat swinging by my side. I am approaching slowly to the crease. I have looked at the umpire. I have looked at the bowler – the deliverer of all my challenges. I have seen the boundaries that encircle me – the ring for my own battle.  I am taking a deep breath – for only I know, that unlike the ordinary batsmen,  I have to cross the crease, for it is one thing to start from scratch in life, but it is another to be up to scratch.

 

Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”  Walter Scott

The “art of deception” seems a most  poetic euphemism for telling a lie. But sometimes it can be fair to assign such a lyrical description for such an deceitful action because – well sometimes – the fraud fashioning the lies is in fact a (con)artist. Lies can be so engrained within this opportunist’s own being that like art – with each talented brushstroke – their lie develops more and more layers of elaborative watercolor and charcoal , adding depth and dimension,  which seep into one another until it seems almost impossible that the lie cannot be anything but the truth.

Behold –  you’ve well and truly had ” The wool pulled over your eyes.”

But where did the wool come  from and are we talking lambs wool or fine cashmere? (Quality my friends is always worth paying extra for.)

Pulling the wool over one’s eyes is used  in modern day English as an idiom when describing the act of beguiling a naive soul into believing the web of mistruths that you spin for them. But this isn’t a web of silk , no, you are so outstanding in your act of enchantment, so talented at twining the fabric(ations) together, that you’ve stitched together a wonderous woolen wig to perch upon your victims unsuspecting head.

A wig you say ? A wig indeed. The saying is in fact thought to originate from the 17th century where it was unbecoming to show the world what your momma gave you and thus it was common practice to wear powdered wigs on top of your own hair. These wigs are still worn today however usually only in courts of law – unless of course King Louis XIII of France is your style icon (each to their own.)  Now these wigs were temperamental and so could slip and send the wearer into temporary darkness until readjusted – and so was likened to keeping someone in the dark by hoodwinking them with your lies. Similarly another suggestion for the origin of the saying is that in courts of law where it was etiquette to wear these woolen wigs, as it still is now, it was said that a great lawyer could enrapture the judge regardless of his clients innocence and thus was, through the power of speech, pulling the judges wig down to cover his eyes to blind him from the truth.

So Walter Scott had the right hunch all along with weaving webs of lies – but perhaps what he meant to say was :

“Oh, what a tangled wig we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”

Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

Back to Shakespeare again folks. But not because I have an intense fan girl  obsession with our favorite English playwright, nay but because of Halloween.

That’s right, double double toil and trouble, something wicked this way comes! Halloween is nigh and with it brings a legitimate reason for me to be able to put too much effort and excitement into a costume undoubtedly nobody but perhaps an english or film studies student will get.

This year I am going as a star crossed lover  – masquerading this October 31st as  good old Juliet Capulet ( I’m in the middle of sourcing an apothecary to acquire poison as well as a blood stained dagger so that perhaps more people may know who I am actually meant to be. )

But it got me thinking. Romeo and Juliet is  a cultural staple, its plot forms the foundations of most modern day rom-coms; a classic tale of forbidden love which ends tragically . But, if it is such a well recognized play and so engrained in popular culture, why is it that it is so frequently misinterpreted ?

O Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

The scene is set. Juliet sits at her balcony and – as one  does – declares her feelings in regards to her undying (and slightly hastily decided) love for Romeo – a 16th century Bridget Jones’ diary.

Now the above quote is often thought to mean ” where are you Romeo?” Now this makes sense grammatically and is in context with the play. Nevertheless the actual meaning of ” Wherefore art thou Romeo” makes even more sense grammatically and is even more in context with the play.

Wherefore art means ” why do you have to be.” So Juliet is not yearning for the longitude and latitude of her lover, she doesn’t want his GPS location, she’s not clingy like that. No she wants more. Our gal Juliet is a philosopher, she wants to know why he had to be born a Montague, born a son of the sworn enemies of her family.

So ladies and gentlemen this time it’s a case of why rather than where for both Romeo and Juliet and myself.

WHY will people not understand who I am dressed up as this Halloween?

Maybe it’ll be because people will expect me to be looking for my Romeo . But we all know now that I won’t be looking for him, but rather I’ll be sitting somewhere, dram of whisky in hand, questioning and pondering his bloodline and heritage.

Wherefore art thou indeed .

Therein Lies The Rub

I thought I would start off with a classic and slowly work my way into some favorites of mine (Voltaire and Bukowski) .

So for all you modern moguls here’s a  blast from the past.  Shakespeare, an universal pioneer in modern day quotations, was an Englishman with both a penchant for comedy and tragedy . But you just can’t have those two together in one story – or can you?

And therein lies the rub!

The quote itself is a misquotation from Hamlet’s soliloquy about suicide:

“To die, to sleep

To sleep perchance to dream:

Ay, there’s the rub.

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come”

Therein lies the rub – or to quote exactly – “there’s the rub”   means – that’s where the problem/obstacle is.”

Hamlet  is reflecting on the possibility of suicide as a means to an easy end. That perhaps death – which he likens to a “sleep, perchance to dream” may be preferable to life. He comes to realize that nobody knows what death itself has to hold  as nobody has ever come back from the dead to recount their tales, and so that perhaps that is the catch to suicide – therein lies the rub.

“Rub” originated from the good old English game of bowls – a rub was a fault in the surface of the green which would divert a bowl from its desired and planned direction.

Despite being overshadowed by its older brother ” to be or not to be, ” “therein lies the rub” is still used in modern day conversation. People just don’t know that good old Billy Shakespeare helped to coin it into 21st century English.

So here’s to the underdog, the middle child of Hamlet’s monologue.

We found the rub but we’re not going to erase it .

( Bad joke – but I’m not sorry )