Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Ben never visited me!
"Why? Ben Nevis never visited me ... why should I visit him?"
"Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is a tourist attraction. Now we're here we should visit it."
"And Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. Should we visit that too?"
And therein lies the problem of my life. Having to do things that others think I should do. Why am I, (and countless others), compelled by society, peer pressure perhaps, to do things I don't really care about or wish to do?
If we are in a certain country we should visit the appropriate tourist attraction because everyone else does so. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the Parthenon in Athens, and other famous places like museums, art galleries, opera houses, famous buildings where certain people lived. If I am in a certain country on holiday why can I not rest in the sun with a large pint of Guinness without having to feel guilty that I have not visited a certain place that other tourists have supposedly visited before me and gawped at inanely?
You know the feeling? "What? You went all the way to America and did not visit the Niagara Falls?" "You were in Switzerland and did not see the Matterhorn?"
It's all peer pressure you see. Silent peer pressure from a sheep-like society that cannot enjoy itself without following in the footsteps of its predecessors. If you are in London you must visit Westminster Abbey, or the London Eye, or Trafalgar Square or ... Why? Because everyone else has done so when visiting London. And if you are in Stratford-upon-Avon you should visit Shakespeare's childhood home, or Anne Hathaway's home, (his wife), or where his daughter lived, or where he is buried. What's the point in that? Will seeing where the man lived enhance my life in any way? Will it make me appreciate the man any more? You might as well send me a photo of his home and save me the expense of going all the way there!
In Britain almost every town and city has some tourist place of interest which somehow you "have" to visit. Be it a museum, a stately home, an arboretum, a zoo or a house where someone famous once lived. In fact we have special blue plaques put up by the authorities to show where such people lived or worked. And of course, as a tourist you must visit these places in order to tell others, (or bore them out of their minds), about all you have learnt when you visited there.
And another thing that gets to me! Why did I, as a child, have to endure learning the works of Shakespeare? And why are countless of other pupils world-wide having to do the same ad infinitum? He never read any of my books, why should I have to read his? And it's not just Shakespeare, but many other writers have been chosen by society as worthy to be read if we are to be considered intellectually superior to a bacteria.
War and Peace by Tolstoy for instance - a must-read book. Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Dante's Inferno. Hugo's Les Miserables. James Joyce, Moliere, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Wordsworth and countless other works of literature guaranteed to make me more and more miserable as I live. Actually, I once saw the film Les Miserables with subtitles on, so presumably I can claim to have read it. Do you realise that there are more books in this world than it would take you several lifetimes to have read them all? So why bother? There will always be some books which you have missed any way!
And it's not just literature. Society somehow makes you feel inferior if you have not been to the Opera and marvelled at Rossini's Barber of Seville, (he shaved oranges, you know), or Verdi's Aida. Why can't Verdi keep his Aida private like everyone else?
And don't forget the ballet. Or the arts and the grand master-pieces by famous painters which you just must see; and all the wonderful sculptures by famous people who make sculptures!
And that's how society shepherds us into one analogous mass all following the same path whether it be the places we visit on holiday, the books we read, or what we do for entertainment or even the food we eat.
And that's another one of my rants. Why should restaurants be segregated according to their cuisine? French restaurants, Italian restaurants, Greek, Indian and so on? Why can't I eat what I want where I want?
I once went to a French restaurant and ordered a pizza. The waiter would not serve me. I asked him, "Have you got frogs' legs?" He replied, "Oui, monsieur!" So I said, "Hop over into the kitchen and get me a plate of spaghetti!"
So there you have it. You can visit the Sydney Opera House if you like, whilst reading Sophocles Oedipus Rex, (its' all about a cat anyway). Just leave me in peace with a pint of Guinness.