Sergey and Hot TeaA couple of things you may notice about this week’s entries. First, our great friend Sergey is off someplace in the middle of Russia riding on a train from Kazan to Moscow. It’s about 1,000 km to complete the trip, a good time to enjoy hot tea. No Internet on a train out in the countryside. We told him he must pick the next subject as penance.

Our other adventure concerns the blog itself. We have a title: 50 Shades of Grey and nothing else. It’s not about the book or movie; the article is whatever comes to mind when you think about the phrase “fifty shades of grey.” So the article can be about anything you want it to be about, as long as the title is 50 Shades…


Fifty Shades of Grey – except they can’t see grey

Even as a child, I have never admired people who see the world as black & white; right and wrong. They are so sure of themselves and their opinions that there is absolutely no room for empathy. It sounds great if you say “law & order” real fast and give it no deeper thought. The crime was committed and a price must now be paid.

Wooden ShovelLet me give you an example. Years ago I was Director of Educational Programs for a Unit of the USNPS, the American park service. I was doing research in original court documents from 1771 and found this case: she went to the store and stole a shovel full of wheat. She was surely guilty and was whipped for her crime. His Majesties’ justice was served on that day.

Now, if you live in a world where things can be grey, you may interested in learning that the criminal was a mother of two. Think for a moment, why would she steal grain? Why not a new dress? The sad part of this story is that a single shovel-full will not even make a loaf of bread. 

In my country, caring about such things earns you the derisive title “Snowflake”, a whining cry-baby concerned about the feelings of others. When I was young, the name was “Bleeding Heart Liberal.” Apparently being politically conservative and not caring about others goes hand in hand. I don’t know why that is true but it seems to be. No, I’m not trying to be mean or troll anyone, it really is my observation.

For the ultimate in a black and white world, we must turn to religion. No grey here. The more orthodox your religious views, the less grey in your world. If you learn a holy book (any) on a deep level and dedicate your life to religion, God must surely be on your side. You have found the answers in your life and now travel the true path. 

Now, if you know the answers, then by definition you are right (insert subject here). God says you are right… (insert passage here). Obviously, if you are right, then anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. ANYONE who disagrees with you is WRONG. You live in a world without grey.  

snowflakeWe always have reasons for what we do: “I’ll take this calculator from the office because I work for a multi-national and they will never miss it.” No matter how outrageous the behaviour, people always justify their actions. These folks also live in black and white worlds, they just imagine white in different places to justify the outrageous. You deserve to be fired!Photograph of Dean Lewis

I’m quite comfortable with my fifty shades of grey: I’m a proud snowflake, a grey snowflake that drifts sideways, but a snowflake none the less. Now that I think about it, Trump’s people need a new insult, a snowflake is pure white.


Cheating Heart??

I am well into retirement age now, but there are certain things I still cannot manage. Whilst I could write a symphonic poem for full orchestra in my early teens, I couldn’t and still cannot, (amongst many other things) put up a shelf on the wall, decorate the lounge with wallpaper, or even simply paint the wall. It either falls down, isn’t straight, or looks plain ugly.

So, back in the days when we could not afford to employ professional decorators to do the job, the title of this book actually says to me it’s time to go to the blasted do-it-yourself shop, and choose the paint.

That’s where, for me, the trouble starts. Just how many shades of each colour can there possibly be? And how do you make that choice? I know what it looks like on the brochure, but as soon as I make the first brushstroke on my wall, it looks different! It always does. I hate the paint brush, I hate the bloody wall that needs painting, and I hate most of all the shade of paint in my tin. 

Grey Paint SelectionLook how many different shades there are of the colour grey – Silver Blade, Purbeck Stone, Cornforth White (!), Mole’s Breath, Revere Pewter, Cheating Heart, and that’s just for starters. And who, for God’s sake, thought up those names? 

I read somewhere that the human eye can only distinguish around 30 different shades of grey. My computer, however, tells me it has 256 of them, and let’s face it, playing with my computer is a whole lot more fun that painting that wall. And watching the paint dry…….

The postscript to this little rant is that Mrs B has just informed me Roger Barathat our lounge needs re-painting.  Guess what colour? You’re right…..She can choose which shade, and she can also ring Mr. Man to come and do it. I’m off down the pub to watch the football.