Man Talk -The Inanimate Life



In our perfect world is there any room for the 'rebel' inanimate object

One of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV was the scene in Fawlty Towers, where Basil at the end of his tether with the frustrations of his life, unleashes the ultimate display of pent up craziness on his car.

In his mind he believed the motors refusal to start was deliberate, he credited the car with having a conscience and it had chosen not to start. and so in a rage he beats it with a bush. Or in his words gives it the 'thrashing of its life' That madness has become a television classic.

Today we might ask the question was Basil Fawlty a mad man ahead of his time. His frustration when the most mundane of everyday objects refuses to function, is a felling that resonates more than ever in today's ultra fast paced world. How often have you felt like beating the 'bejayzus' out of something for spiking your perfect life. The 'rebel' inanimate object has become our nemesis. The lack of signal on your mobile phone. The frozen computer screen. The self service till that won't scan. In a technological world where we have become slaves to reliability, the master plan of life doesn't cater for blips breakdowns or deviations. So what happens when basic functions start to go wrong. The missed bus, the button that comes adrift. The screw that won't turn, or in Basil's case, the car that won't start! We are so geared to everything being 'right' that more and more we are finding it difficult to cope with life when something goes 'wrong'

Everyday we are faced with the challenge of the defiant inanimate object. We take every hindrance to our progress as a personal attack. Basil Fawlty's frustration with the unexpected challenges of life. And the so called 'blame culture' we all live in, is probably something we can all relate to. When the car won't start or you leave the house to find you've forgotten your keys and have got a flat tyre. That's no accident that's life being a complete and utter.... Well you can insert your own favourite expletive. It's like thoughts are things, and if you have the slightest doubt about how an inanimate object will perform, you can bet your bottom dollar it will let you down. And oh it's personal! It knew how important it was and yet in an act of gailling defiance it sticks two fingers up to you as if to say 'Worra yer gonna do abar it'

Well I'll tell you what we are going to do about it. If 'Launching it' isn't an option, you start with a verbal assault. An expletive driven rant, is always the place to begin. Now an attack of this nature on a more human form, can get you into a lot of trouble. However a rant at your computer for example, is universally acknowledged as being acceptable, even though it should be pointed out that inanimate objects are pretty thick skinned and to my knowledge have never been intimidated into giving an improved performance by a verbal dressing down.

An objects continued refusal to work efficiently can often lead to the more extreme reaction of a physical assault. It often begins with a slight tap, a kind of wake up call usually accompanied by a bit more verbal coaxing. We in the majority still believe that giving something a bang, will wake it from its restful state. Sadly in the hi tech micro chip world this rule no longer applies. We do not like to operate in the modern world, and still believe in the medieval ritual of threats and intimidation as the likeliest way to a successful resolution of a problem. The threat can be a curse, or physical, in the form of violence often inflicted on an innocent inanimate bystander. In an office situation this might be a well aimed kick at a filing cabinet or a bin. Which may boom boom and shake the room, but again this tactic will have little or no effect on the accused. It may however raise concerns about your own ability to function amongst other office staff.

From electric cables that won't reach the plug, to the vacuum cleaner hose that just won't stretch the few inches further or the telephone wires that seem to have deliberately wrapped itself around the chair leg. The sinister underlying defiance of the inanimate object brings into question just how dumb, is the dumb waiter. And is the confusion caused by blown fuse or even a blown shut door, just bad luck or is some dark mysterious force out there in the etha pulling the strings, and maybe having a good laugh at our expense, when we cry over our spilled milk.

In our modern busy busy world. With our busy busy well ordered lifestyles we have no times for life challenging inanimate pranks. When was the last time you had a cheerie laugh when something didn't work? These days we take everything personal. We tell the offending item just what we think of it, and when it just sits there and says nothing, well it's obvious its silence is an act of defiance. Think it's funny do you, computer, when you freeze up in the middle of my writing of my column. Or when you conveniently lose the file, that I know I saved. Well I say, laugh this off buster and say hello to my little friend the wheelie bin. Sometimes giving out a good thrashing just isn't enough!


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