Monday, March 05, 2007

How to Maintain Your Life on an Even Keel

The strange thing about lists of tips for improving your life is that they are always exactly the same. Here, for example, is the latest recycling of the how to spice up your sex life list and here are the usual boost your confidence commandments. The genre is plainly in a rut, so I have decided to start a How To Be Just About Okay list. The list is in its infancy, so contributions are welcome. Thus far I have:

1)If in doubt, stay at home and read Edward Thomas.
2)Do not attempt to flush cellophane.
3)If you see a Mexican with a gun, get behind something solid. (Advice offered to me by Paul Bowles years ago in Tangier.)
4)Never read anybody any poetry you may, ill-advisedly, have written.
5)Cycle pumps are for inflating cycle tyres and that's it.


  1. How about:

    6) When using the shower in somebody else's house, leave all the temperature controls as they are (since the owner is bound to have already located the only tolerable position.)
    7) Always immediately agree to split the restaurant bill equally, no matter what you ordered.
    8) For women: never marry a man purely on the grounds that he earns a lot of money for his age.
    9) Under no circumstances keep a diary beyond the age of 14.
    10) For youths: don't think that 'going travelling' will change anything.

    I have to disagree with your point 4. You should only never read out serious poetry.

  2. Excellent contributions, Brit. I take your point about 4

  3. I actually think this is rather good, called "Life"

    Life can be good
    Life can be bad
    Make you happy
    Make you sad
    Who would have thought that
    Would contain so much
    No don't go home
    and beat the

  4. Odd thing: I write about keeping life on an even keel and a house bursts into flames not 100 yards from where I sit. Three fire engines so far.

  5. As I prophetically wrote, life can contain muxh strife, and the letters of strife contain fire, with st left over. St Elo's Fire- think about it.

  6. Andrew:

    Very nice. And wise. It's slightly reminiscent of a chapter ending in a JP Donleavy novel.

  7. - Don't live in central London beyond the age of 25 - unless Victor Meldrew is an aspirational figure.

    - Never enter into a physical relationship with your married superior.

    - "Piers Morgan is a work of fiction". Repeat twice a day.

    - Develop an appreciation of Paul McCartney's solo output. Including The Frog Chorus.

    - Understand that going on a stag do in a state of medically-enforced sobriety is A Bad Idea. Going on two is madness.

    - Never, ever start using instant messenger.

    - Don't put your right arm through a window. Especially if you're right handed.

  8. I confess, Brit, I made it up on the spot, which just goes to show that spontaneous inspired creation is often the most exalted form of art.
    I've read Bowles' Under the Sheltering Sky, which I confess I found a bit ugly, in essence.

  9. Advice for men: Quit insisting you are right when it is obvious to all that you are wrong. (And in the middle of forest, alone, you are *still* wrong.)

    Advice for women: See how much he tips when he takes you on a date. If he's cheap there, he'll be cheap elsewhere, and a partner's generosity is directly linked to your happiness in all kinds of arenas.

    Advice for parents of teenagers: Don't ask about anything more personal than the time or the weather. If you insist on asking a more personal question, don't be surprised if the answer is something you really, really didn't want to hear.

    Advice for owners of labrador dogs: Don't put anything breakable on the coffee table unless your dog has had an accident already that required a tail amputation.

  10. There's a book in this. Keep 'em coming.

  11. Two rules I've always tried to live my life by:

    1 - Never put metal in the microwave
    2 - Never heckle a man with a microphone

    Each has their own, deeply humiliating lesson behind them...

  12. Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
    Trust noone- you can never be too paranoid.
    When out walking, perhaps count your steps, and every fifty or so, just a swift about turn to check one's surroundings. After a while this should become an ingrained unconscious habit.
    Wash your hands regularly. Refuse politely any offer to shake someone else's; you literally have no idea what they've been up to.
    Become competent in how to handle weaponry. If it's a case of kill or be killed, I know which I'd choose. I've yet to hear a good countering argument.
    Never start reading Something Happened by Joseph Heller.

  13. I only have one rule I live by, taught to me by my mother, and that's never invade Russia during the winter months.

    I do like the one about bicycle pumps though.

  14. Praise from your friends is worthless. Praise from your enemies is worth a little more (but not much more).

    Learn to look interested in what others are saying, especially those you like or admire.

    And don't forget (as Brit alluded to earlier): the first person you meet when you step off the plane in a foreign land is yourself.

  15. What happened to the burning house, Bryan?

  16. It was put out by four fire engines and countless firemen. Badly gutted I fear.

  17. Yikes. Well, without knowing the details, one naturally hopes nobody was hurt etc. etc.

  18. There's a phrase to describe people who often see houses burst into flames 100 yards away from them: namely, 'the culprit'.

    I trust that the 'Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason, Science, and Fish Fingers', will be able to find new offices.

  19. Never try to carry a cup of anything along with briefcase, papers, books, up four flights of stairs
    never use blunt chainsaw blade
    never answer the question is this dress/shoes/hair alright
    never find any woman on TV/stage/film beautiful as this will lead to long analysis of words like 'attractive'
    after 45 never bother with anyone you don't like
    always invent a Friday night outing to discuss with barber/hairdresser. They must populate the West End at night

  20. A few I've learned from a lifetime of TV viewing (that's Telly for you blokes):

    1. If you see a running washing machine, assume that someone else has already added the required amount of soap.

    2. If you are a starship captain and the monitor picks up a strange device of unknown origin or purpose, do NOT beam it aboard the ship.

    3. If you are escaping the underground volcano lair of an international evildoer, assume that every computer monitor is wired into a massive cache of explosives, with enough of a delay in the fuse to allow you to escape by the skin of your teeth before the island explodes.

  21. You all seem to speak from experience, bitter experience.

  22. If you're going to tell fibs about someone, make sure they are not in the same room when you do it.

    If you think a woman looks pregnant, but you are not sure, don't ask her when it is due.

    If you have any children under 3-years of age in your house, never pick them up in your arms before you leave for work in the morning - "what's that stain on your shoulder"

  23. wife in the sarfMarch 05, 2007 10:20 pm

    Very amusing. But evasive. These tips guarantee superficial sanity and deep anxiety. Karl Marx would never have got where he is today (yes, I know: Highgate cemetery, somewhere near Max Wall and a recently buried friend of mine)if he hid from Mexicans, bad poetry and the allure of the bicycle pump. We are in a state of eternal keeling over, keeling in to and keeling beyond. Embrace it all. You have everything to gain including your soul; nothing to lose except your dignity. Oh, and, er, your chains.

  24. But it sounds like you have never been sailing ?

  25. Do not rely on the good intentions of any cat

    Akela was wrong

    In Germany on Sunday expect nothing

    Never ask an Australian the time on a Friday evening

    Mistrust anyone who plays a 'Hammond Organ'

    Avoid profane currencies

    At 17, ignore Shelley

    Embrace Shelley at reaching 49

    If you have to queue for MacDonalds in Moscow, try shouting 'Gorbachev'

    Remember that maybe usually means no

    Always pay the lowest possible tip and wear body armour

  26. Don't eat yellow snow.
    Use latex instead of oil whenever possible.
    Never pull a cat.
    Never ask "does he bite" as you reach to pet him.
    Chain down your statuary in certain parts of town....know what I mean *wink* nudge nudge:)

  27. Never trust a man who doesn't drink

  28. the online pixieMarch 06, 2007 3:04 pm

    A couple of sage words from the pixie- bear in mind I've just come back from Monday lunch.

    If, whilst on a drunken rampage, you accidentally steal a rock from someone's rockery don't knock on their door the following day to apologise. Even if you've brought the rock back.

    Don't, whilst on a drunken rampage, handcuff a physicist to your shower.

    Never, if on a rampage of the drunken nature post comments on a blog. You end up making a bit of a tit of yourself.

  29. When you are in the wrong, admit it.

    When your partner is right, tel him/her.

    Listen to your children, no matter how young. From the mouths of babes many a true word was spoken.

    Beware of false friends!

    Never believe just one source of news - get at least one other opinion.

    Keep smiling! No woman or man would have plastic surgery to remove lines that make them look happy or fun.

    Love your kids to bits but be firm with them.

    Learn to speak well at least one foreign language. It will help you at home.

    Patience is a virtue but not when you need a bathroom in a hurry.

  30. Don't dance, accept whenever the dj's playing "Kiss" by Prince.