Friday, June 4, 2010

Do labels stick in the rain?

Words almost fail me. The forecast yesterday in Sydney was for ‘showers’. Now I don’t know what particular picture ‘showers’ conjures up in your mind, but in my head I had images of light sprinklings of rain, sudden quick downpours, and then the sun magically creating rainbows and diamond sparkles everywhere. Nowhere in my imagination does ‘showers’ encompass tropical monsoonal deluges of such volume that they close roads and create a spectacular waterfall effect over the sandstone escarpments that line the main road north out of Sydney. Forget my petty dithering over relative price attractiveness of various brands of wellies, given that 66mm of rain fell in some parts of Sydney over the last 24 hours, what was needed was an all in one wet suit.

I have been having a good week in terms of finding quotes I like – this one comes from Noel Coward in The Times, courtesy of ‘The Week’;

“I believe we should all behave quite differently if we lived in a warm, sunny climate all the time.”

I am sure part of my normal happy mood is related to the fact the default setting in Sydney is sunshine. And to carry on Noel’s point I have come to the conclusion, that if you live in a normally blissful climate with more of a drought problem than a flood issue, you feel abnormally aggrieved and bad tempered when the weather turns nasty.

My laundry cum scullery is particularly depressing me at the moment. It is never really a thing of beauty, being the general family dumping ground and washing in transit lounge. Incessant rain has meant however that it is now filled with wet and damp washing draped everywhere and the whole place looks like an illustration of the squalor in which the people the Victorians labelled the ‘undeserving’ poor, used to live.

I was introduced to the concept of ‘labelling’ people at a conference recently – in the context of dealing with difficult people. The idea being that when confronted with the Attila the Hun type chap, you say, “As a calm and reasonable man, I am sure you would want to share your thinking/pause before you shout at me/invade my country etc.” and Attila stops in his tracks and goes, “Well, yes of course I am a calm and reasonable man and so therefore I will behave in the way suggested”. I initially dismissed this idea as the normal conference guff but then realised I am highly susceptible to labelling myself – all anyone needs to say to me is “As an obviously caring and responsible parent ….”, and I would be putty in their hands. Likewise the male friend who hailed me with the words, “Hello sexy wife”, which merely proved there is no better instrument for flattery than a large trowel, but did ensure I will be smiling particularly kindly upon him for the rest of time. I have come to the conclusion ‘labelling’ is in fact a form of rank flattery, and as such, works remarkably well and I shall be practising it on my nearest and dearest which may alarm them somewhat. I have had to point out to husband the dangers of reverse labelling though, together with the strong suggestion that the words "well you do tend to blow out like a balloon" should never cross his lips again, no matter how absent minded the utterance.

As there is a pause in the weather, I am off to walk the dog (label: loyal, obedient and trustworthy) before the next deluge requiring two by two evacuation to the ark starts.

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