The success of failure…the failure of success

Language is an amazing thing…

…whether it’s your own with all the expressive power and beauty that you can summon up in order to communicate or a foreign language that you’re trying to come to grips with.

After 7 months here in France, it’s getting slowly but steadily easier to both understand spoken French and to speak it ourselves.

I find the whole French language ‘experience’ very rewarding and today was great, with an hour-long chat with our neighbour, totally in French, and then arranging a delivery of firewood with M. Thireau at Renaze when I also had to give him directions to our place, again all in French.

Obviously, I’m still exposed to English (we’re not so immersed in the culture that we’re conversing in French at home, and the Sky Box carries all the usual English-speaking channels) and the few ex-pats that we have dealings with – we didn’t move here to get involved in some sort of British enclave – give us a chance to chat in our Mother Tongue from time to time.

However, after intermittently watching British TV here for a few months, I feel forced to ask, what the FUCK has happened to the English language?

In particular, what the FUCK is it with all this ‘heart and soul’ and ‘with passion/passionate about’ shite?

It seems that almost everyone who does anything has done, is doing or will do whatever it is with all their ‘heart and soul’ or that they’re ‘passionate’ about it.

It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s always this self-promoting, self-justifying cack which really doesn’t mean anything after even superficial analysis.

I’ve even heard it justifying total failure where it’s used as some sort of excuse – ‘well, I was really passionate about it’ – as if simply wanting to do something was some sort of key to success. What about skill, talent, practice or self-discipline, for fuck’s sake? 

Everyone, from an X-Factor contestant to a Commonwealth Games competitor, puts their ‘heart and soul’ into their efforts and says so with monotonous regularity  – but how else should they approach their endeavours if they’re serious about gaining success?

But it’s not just that these once valid but sparingly-used expressions of supreme effort and mental dedication have lapsed into cliché – they’re now used to justify lacklustre and mediocre achievement and even abject failure.

Fuck me…I can just about tolerate these expressions from people who clearly make an effort – it’s just lazy speech – but when it’s some obviously talentless twat in a TV talent show then it’s a bit more than just linguistic sloppiness – it’s self-delusion, as they clearly mean it.

Personally, I find it somehow emblematic of a generation, sapped of ambition through a culture of tolerance towards the average and mediocre, which now believes that merely stating that an effort has been made is the same as actually making an effort.

Increasingly low expectations in society  have robbed people of the ability to self-criticise and self-evaluate, with the result that even complete failure can be judged as some sort of success as long as the ‘passion’ was there or that one’s ‘heart and soul’ were in it.

I can clearly remember being told by my parents and teachers that as long as I did my best then it was no shame if I failed, but it seems that today it’s sufficient just to state that you did your best, even though no real effort was made. Thus the individual is taught to deceive himself in a misguided attempt to insulate him from failure.

But it goes even deeper than this.

Decades of deception on the part of successive governments and education experts have created a myth – the myth that no matter what background and/or intellectual capacity an individual has, he or she can be equipped to transcend these specific and often fixed limits and become enabled to achieve success. In essence, it’s a very laudable aim – but impossible to attain unless you lower your sights and redefine success.

A prime example of this can be found in the well-documented practice by some primary schools a couple of decades ago of banishing the competitive element from events like sports day. All participants were considered achievers and given a certificate regardless of whether they’d come first or last.

No-one lost.

But no-one won.

Those who came first were deprived of any sense of achievement and those who came last were deceived into thinking that they’d achieved equal placing with the winners.

Given that these children then entered a competitive society upon leaving school, many of them were ill-equipped to deal with competitiveness in the wider arena of work and other social situations.

(Nowadays, of course, we’re doing the same thing but with university students and Media Studies degrees…)

With educationalists seemingly given carte blanche over the last 50 years or so and government attempts at social engineering (admitted by those responsible in the last three Labour governments of the last 13 years) seeking to introduce equality across the socio-economic strata defined by ethnicity, gender, religion, race, income, environment and education, the British public was sold a monstrous lie – the lie that everyone could be a winner. In purely Darwinian terms this is a patent impossibility and, within the complex social structures of human society, pure fantasy.

Yes, equality of opportunity is a worthy goal, but only within very broad limits. Taking a metaphor from the school sports day example above, you can produce equal placings in a 100 yard dash if you handicap the faster runners with a time or distance penalty, but would those results have any real meaning either to the runners themselves or the doting parents?

Indeed, you could just dispense with entering potential winners in the race and thus ensure that some of the potential losers won – and that’s just what happened when the concept of ‘positive discrimination’ began to manifest itself in job selection, and shortlists and quotas began to specify that only certain groups of people would be considered for certain posts. Thus, those with a proven track record of success or obvious potential were often denied access to certain positions. So, once again, success was left unrewarded and the mediocre – and occasionally the failures – elevated to jobs beyond their skill sets.

Even within government itself, failure appears to be rewarded, with serial incompetents such as David Blunkett and Lord Fondlebum being given new cabinet posts after serious lapses of judgement and after a suitable period of time. Lesser figures in national and local government, finance, the Civil Service and a wide variety of public services seem to be able to escape accountability with impunity and, even when they are unable to continue in their job, often benefit from substantial severance payments and generous pension deals.

Naturally, the media plays a part in this celebration of the mediocre…

On one TV channel you can watch a documentary about the British airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain who really did put their ‘heart and soul’ into what they did, and often lost their lives in the process. Although I don’t doubt that their mental state must have been in turmoil, to say the least, prior to scrambling, nevertheless they just went ahead and flew off to an uncertain fate and possible death.

However, on another channel you can watch the day to day work of a haulage company, Eddie Stobart. I’ve just seen an extract involving the trucking of a load of cream cakes to Tesco in Didcot with the driver nervously saying what a difficult load it was. Now, whilst I have the greatest respect for truckers – with the exception of those fuckers who overtake their colleagues on the motorway with only a 1 mph speed advantage – it’s not exactly a matter of national defence or a process which might well result in death.

So, we celebrate the mundane in the same terms as we celebrate the heroic with few of us aware of the absurdity of it all.

Meanwhile, the absurdity formed after years of social manipulation and the drive for equality at all costs sits like a tumour at the heart of our society – success is largely derided unless it’s approved by a celebrity TV jury and failure is accepted as an inevitable consequence of equality.

Indeed, at times, I’m hard-pressed to tell the difference between success and failure… 

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The French paper chase – update – and Tiny Tom Cruise

I am now the proud owner of a…wait for it…

Certificat d’Importation d’un vehicule terrestre a moteur en provenance  de la commaunite Europeenne par une personne non identifiee a la TVA

Armed with this document and a few others I can now go to the prefecture at Laval of the departement in which we live – Mayenne – and get the car re-registered.

After two trips to Chateau Gontier in three days I’ll leave the final stage for next week.

Godammit – it is almost the weekend…

OK…the One Show…I had the misfortune to catch a few minutes of this evening’s edition.

There was a segment about how some people have been conned out of thousands of pounds by romance scammers via internet dating agencies. Personally, I wouldn’t give money to anyone I hadn’t at least met face to face, but some people obviously have more money than sense.

Then the One Show cuts to a red carpet interview with Tom Cruise – the diminuitive Scientologist film star – and the male One Show host’s (his bastarding name escapes me) first question to the Hollywood dwarf?

What do you think of online dating?

Now, whilst I realise that the hosts of the One Show might not be investigative journalists with searching and incisive questions springing naturally to their lips, and that the One Show itself isn’t exactly known for probing inquiries into matters of pressing public concern, what a stupid fucking cunting question.

Thank fuck I don’t have to pay a TV licence anymore, because if I did I’d be contacting the BBC as to why they were wasting the licence fee revenue employing cunts like the One Show twat and paying him good money (and lots of it) to ask stupid fucking questions.

It’s just one small step from ‘What’s your favourite colour, Tommo?’ – in fact, that might even be a more relevant question under the circumstances, as it’s probably something upon which Cruise has an opinion, but his experience of online dating must be rather limited, to say the least. Or so I would imagine.

And whilst I’m in rant mode:

What the fucking fuck are the Hairy Fucking Bikers all about?

Why are they being paid good money to fart around the country acting like the arsing Chuckle Brothers with a motherfucking cook book? All I can see are two mouthy cunts who are about as funny as a sack of drowned puppies and two more ‘TV chefs’ who ought to thank their lucky stars that they’ve got their talentless paws on the seemingly limitless supply of licence fee dosh provided by the gullible British public and chucked about like confetti by the BBC.

What’s more, BBC execs are getting even more money than these motherfuckers are getting paid for putting them on the screen in the first place.

It’s high time the BBC gravy train was derailed – I favour strapping the entire fucking cast of ‘My Family’ to the points, but that’s probably just me…

The French paper chase

Fuck, fuck and…er…fuck again…

French bureaucracy has just bitten me in the arse.

I’m trying to re-register my car so I can get the ‘carte grise’ and have French plates – no road tax then! – which is a legal requirement eventually if I’m staying here.

I’ve done everything right so far, and at no small expense:

  • Headlights changed for driving on the wrong side of the road – 414 Euros
  • Controle Technique (French MOT valid for 2 years) – 62 Euros
  • Certificate of Conformity from Ford – £82.25

So, off I go to the Hotel des Impots (local tax office) at Chateau Gontier to get the last piece of paperwork – a declaration that my car isn’t new and that I don’t owe any money on it – before taking the whole wodge of documents to Laval to get re-registered, only to find that they need proof of my address.

This will have to be done through my local mayor here, who should be able to provide me with an attestation of my address.

The fact that I have French car insurance, French top-up health insurance, a French social security number and a French bank account – all of which are dependent on me having provided a valid and verifiable French address on four separate occasions already – didn’t seem to cut any ice with the lady at the tax office, even when I showed her the documents.

So, I’m back home after a 70km round trip that achieved rather less than fuck all.

Still, few things have annoyed me about living in France so far so I’m just going to go with the flow, roll with the punches, suck it up, blah, blah, blah…

All the same…fuckity fuck, fuck, fuck…

Does vinegar make you shit?

Apologies to those familiar with this, but for people reading this who don’t blog, I need to explain something about a blog account.

No matter what blog client you use, you get access to a ‘dashboard’ or control panel that has all sorts of good and useful shit in it.

One of the handiest things in it is some sort of stats view and summary so you can see how people have found your blog, what’s been popular that you’ve written, where they’ve gone that you’ve linked to and stuff like that which is really much more interesting than it sounds.

One group of statistics tells me what search terms people have used to find my blog and I was delighted to find that someone had come here by searching for:

‘does vinegar make you shit’

I know that they didn’t find the answer here, so:

Does vinegar make you shit?

Enquiring minds need to know...