jfs: (boy with cat)
There's something enervating about constant heat in England; we're not used to it, and it saps away at us. Tempers fray, nerves thin; we snarl at each other where we would have let things go.

So I was on my way home from London Bridge, after an excellent night in the pub with friends tonight, and I got on the Ilford train at Stratford. And just as I sat down, two people bumped into each other, and he decided that she had been less than careful and she decided that he had over-reacted and suddenly two people were having a loud and energetic argument in the carriage and the rest of us just wanted to be somewhere else and that somewhere else was cool and at home. Short of an ice gun and a teleporter, that wasn't going to happen.

They sat. Not opposite each other.  She facing away from him; he defiantly placed facing the back of her head because he was correct and she was wrong. The set of his neck and shoulders exuded righteousness. She sat as if he didn't exist; defensive, perhaps, but no outward signs of nervousness.

I can't answer for either of them and what they were feeling but my reading of the situation was that violence was not going to happen. This wasn't a fight that was going to kick off. This was two people rubbing against each other like burrs under a blanket, and neither able or willing to turn around and say 'Sorry. It's a hot night. I've got a short temper tonight but I shouldn't have taken it out on a stranger'.

So - so far; about what you'd expect from public transport on a hot Friday evening.

But what drew my attention out of my headphones and book was the effect on the rest of the carriage.

If you'd asked me in advance, I'd have assumed that people would have got defensive themselves, in case a fight was going to kick off. Or they'd have got judgemental of one or both of the two, taking sides almost.

Instead I saw smiles. And not the 'Would you look at those pair?!' smiles. I saw people moving over, and making room. I saw newspapers being passed, and when I got off the train there was a concerted effort to make sure that the people with heavy luggage or prams were being helped up the stairs.

It's almost like there was a concerted unconscious effort to overcome the bad vibes that she and he were giving each other by trying to make the world a (very) slightly better place.

Someone tried to play the peacemaker between the two people that were arguing, and it went down like the proverbial lead balloon.

But the rest of the carriage, consciously or not, tried to make sure that even if those two people were upset, that didn't have to apply to anyone else.
jfs: (Default)

Because we're all just jerks in the playpen, when it comes right down to it. And tossing insults and brickbats is all part of the fun, especially when it's done with panache. But when anyone - no matter how annoying - stumbles and shatters their skull, you'd better be prepared to either shut up or help them. Why? Because you're also a grown up, stupid. And that's what they do.

Charlie Brooker on celebrity, and specifically on our need to differentiate when someone deserves mocking, and when they actually need help.

Well worth a read.
jfs: (Default)
When I started studying Aikido, Geoff and Phil had just split from their old club and started Maru Aikido. Maru is a honynym in Japanese; the meaning that they intended was "circle", but it also means "name" when applied to a ship. It tends to get used in the same way that we'd add HMS to the name of any Royal Navy vessel (and for the SF Geeks amongst you, is why the Kobayashi Maru is named so. (Incidentally, I've just used Wikepedia, which tells me that Maru means perfection or purity, and is given as a suffix to ship names because it implies a safe, or round trip. I'm absurdly pleased by that.)

Anyway; when I started, Maru was a member of the Aikido Research Federation which was based in Staffordshire. Over the years, however, our sensei decided that the next logical step was to form a federation - Maru Aikido had MMSU's Aikido club as a sister club, and they weren't necessarily happy with the politics that were necessary to be part of the ARF. (I am aware, before anyone points this out, how much this is like the Judean People's Liberation Front ...).

So the new federation was formed, and called Jiyuu Renmei, which Geoff told us meant "Freedom Federation". He and Phil had club badges designed, with a picture of Fuji-yama in the centre, the sun rising over the mountain, and the name of the Federation in a circle surrounding it. We were to wear these like Samurai mon, on the left upper arm of our best gi. None of this is unusual for a martial arts club.

So, wind on time, 12 years later. I've started Aikido (with a UKA affiliated club, [livejournal.com profile] curlwomble and [livejournal.com profile] ellistar! You got me in the end :-)) and last week, I wore my heavy karate-gi, which was the gi I did my dan grading in, and just so happens to be the gi that has my Jiyuu Renmei badge still carefully sewn to it.

At the end of the practice, I was chatting to Kumiko, a young, Japanese PhD student here and she looked at the badge. It took her a second to translate, and somewhat hesitantly, she said "This means Freedom, yes?"

I breathed a sigh of relief then; one that I'd unknowingly been holding in for 12 years.

Because as seriously as he took his Aikido, I think it would have tickled Wheeler Sensei immensely to have his students wearing a badge which said:

"I don't read Japanese. Please punch me here."

Hmmmm ....

Jun. 16th, 2006 03:37 pm
jfs: (Default)
Are you a Nice Guy or a nice guy?

Very interesting post from [livejournal.com profile] divalion, ganked from [livejournal.com profile] mister_ed.

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