What To Do When Someone Harasses You

I am a man. I have been sexually harassed in the workplace. I’m not even all that gorgeous.

I want to explain what I did, and what I think you should do when someone harasses you at work – that could be sexual harassment or other forms of bullying. I apologise for the length of this read, but I have a lot to get off my chest, and you can speed read or skip at will, can’t you?

First, let me set the scene: I have always worked for myself. I have never been anyone’s employee. I often use an agency for contract work. I am paid by the hour and paid weekly. Always have been. My older brother decided to work this same way.

This type of work has a very short notice period (just a 5-day week of core office hours, – 35 to 40 hours depending on the contract). Legally we get paid this amount whether or not we have to work it. Usually, firms know what’s coming up and we work the notice period. More often than not we get a few weeks’ notice. Sometimes, though, the work has simply dried up, or the client has lost a project and has to let you go. In which case, we would leave immediately, and get paid the week without turning up.

So the scene is set.

Let’s look at my brother’s thing first. He was on a job and weeks went by, payments were good, his work was praised, and everything was working nicely with no hint of a hitch. However, they ran out of work for my brother, and probably money too, so they took him aside and gave him the goodbye talk. He asked if they wanted him to work the rest of the week, and they said there was nothing for him to do, so he was free to go.

However, they refused to sign off on paying him the notice period. My brother contacted the agent to sort this out.

The agent called back to say that the client wasn’t going to pay. When the agent pointed out that they legally had to – unless it was a sacking due to something like misconduct – they suddenly declared that they had to sack my brother due to him sexually harassing a member of staff.

My brother was outraged! But what could be done? If he took it further, he’d have a sexual harassment claim on his record, and no agent would go near such a toxic copybook blot – and that goes for clients too.  My brother would just have to accept losing the money.

That’s pretty awful, isn’t it? Did he do the right thing? What do you think?

OK, so now, a personal tale or two.

I was younger, freer, and single. I was working late and alone in the design office when in came the big busty blonde from accounts. She slid up onto a desk and struck up some chat while I typed and worked on the PC. At some point, she started flirting. She was a little bit older than me, divorced and quite assertive. The level of innuendo was inappropriate for the length of time we’d known each other. I was uncomfortable. Then she noticed a small run on her tights.

Suddenly she was ripping them.

I couldn’t believe what was happening.

To this day, I don’t know just how I managed to get out of that situation unscathed. But I did. I was in fear of discovery, then concerned about someone seeing her in ripped tights as we left the office. She could say I attacked her. Jeez.

I was just lucky that she was not quite that mad. Although I did have to deal with her every day thereafter, and that was always uncomfortable and awkward.

I’ve told this story to guys who said I should have had sex with her on the office floor as she was clearly wanting that.

Do you think I should have? Did I do the wrong thing?

These guys try to make me feel less of a man somehow. I can’t persuade them that it’s not about my virility, but about professionalism, staying in work, having a clean record, and not being controlled by another person.

Their argument is enriched with their idea that “You might as well be guilty of something she might accuse you of – if you’re caught”.

As a man in today’s world, there are a lot of uncomfortable situations from simply walking down the street at night and seeing how a solo female reacts – to things like changing rooms where other dads change small girls when you’re changing your son.

Lately, the media has been all about famous men as sexual predators. It seems to usually be homosexual paedophilia, but sometimes it’s underage girls.

The “underage girls” aspect of this has been a problem for me as I have a lot of sisters and I have met their friends (and years later their daughters and their friends). I have also played in rock bands and visited my fair share of pubs, clubs and concert venues. I know what a preteen crush looks like. We have all seen girls screaming at the Beatles, the Bay City Rollers, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra – to name a few. Girls can lie about their age, and they can certainly look older with clothes and make-up. I am not condoning rape or sexual harassment, just being honest – especially from back in the day.

Back then men wanted to play in rock bands to get chicks. You know, if Freud is to be believed, everything men do is to get chicks (money and power is merely the method). On the other hand, perhaps power corrupts, meaning that powerful people corrupt into being sexual predators.

I don’t know which it is. Certainly, the world of work was invented by men for men, and although women have joined in, most of the companies and boards are still dominated by men. If men hold most of the power, then it stands to reason that power-corrupted sexual predators are mostly men. Some people think that men and women are equal even in this respect and that as more women take more powerful positions, we’ll hear about female sexual predators.

I reckon it may be the case for other forms of bullying, but I don’t think it’s the case when it comes to sexual harassment; as my own experience shows, women have the ability to call the shots. There is no balance or equality here; you just don’t get crowds of boys screaming at the Beatles. That woman ripped her clothes and it looked like I had attacked her. But had the situation be reversed, and I had ripped my clothes – it would still look like I had attacked her, and she’d defended herself!

I have heard of men being falsely accused of sexual harassment and even rape. And although exonerated, their record remains tainted. The accusation is enough to ruin a man’s life.

So lately the media has been filled with stories about Harvey Weinstein. It’s looking bad for him. It’s too easy to judge before anyone has been found guilty of anything in a courtroom. It’s also too common, look at the media just now.

It’s got to be more complicated. It always is. I tend to think that some of the stories are exaggerated, some complete lies (perhaps some personal pay-back), and who knows? He may have been corrupted to a severe extent and been a monster.

But here’s the thing that gets me with all these stories – how can these monsters get away with this stuff for so long. We’re talking years, in some cases, several decades. How is this possible?

In an online article,  “Classic(al) Sexual Harassment” (The HuffPost, 2017-10-10), Susanne Mentzer describes years of personal sexual harassment in the opera and classical music world. She’s finally “speaking out”. But she still names no names. And that is the actual problem.

The above argument suggests that the reason why some monster rapes some girl is because power corrupts. What I take from that is difficult to explain well, so bear with me, my thinking is that when a man goes too far, the victim is morally obliged to report it; if she doesn’t, then she’s complicit.

Each time he gets away with it, the more powerful he becomes, and the more corrupt. Each time he gets away with it, there’s another victim, another damaged human being. Each time he gets away with it, the corrupted system is supported, everyone is involved, all are complicit, all are tacitly approving, accepting and supporting the continuation of it all.

He becomes a monster. He wasn’t born a monster. Each silent victim makes him worse and each silent victim causes the next victim. The responsibility is group.

Yes, I understand why Susanne Mentzer won’t name names. She’s selfish. Just like my brother was. Why should they lose their jobs, reputation, income and so forth? They can keep quiet, play the game, support that system and not rock the boat. They refuse to accept responsibility for future victims or for making a talented man into a monster. As a result of joining in the game, they lose all rights to be called a victim.

I have told you what I did in a situation, or rather what I refused to do. But I have other situations and other tales. And yes, I have quit lucrative contracts because of abuse, bullying and bigotry. To my mind, it is my responsibility to stand up for myself and to make a positive difference. I don’t need to hire a hit man or to wreak revenge, but I do have to draw my own line and my life only makes sense if it has a solid moral foundation. It starts at home, if more people did likewise, the world would be a very different place.

Sure, I have suffered, but not for long; I always find another job. It always works out. It will be like that for you too, and it gets easier over time to do this, you gain confidence, you grow. Suffering for being out of work – to me – is better than suffering at work, taking money to keep schtum, 40 pieces of silver to allow someone to abuse me – and other people. No thanks.

I have a friend who was caught up in an online paedophile trawl, and while this chap is lovely, moral, kind, and innocent, his barrister recommended that it would be in his best interests to just plead guilty, and be placed on a sex offenders’ register, go to regular counselling sessions for his “problem”, and let it all go through smoothly.

I begged him to fight it. He didn’t; he was too shocked at what was happening to him. He pled guilty, lost family and friends, and even though it’s all over and cleared up over years, he remains labelled by some with good memories.

OK, in closing this down, I can see that I may come across here, to some, as insensitive to victims and supportive of paedophiles and sexual predators. That is certainly not what I wanted to get across. Rather, I am accusing victims of being irresponsible and immoral. I think that speaking out after many years, or only after the monster has died, or going to the press only after someone else has put their head on the block is shameful. Writing about it in an autobiography and selling that through press and interviews on TV is almost worse than the original event. It is even possible for a victim to claim that the “incident” caused them to develop a mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and more. Then they are acclaimed for heroically overcoming it all, and this, in turn, sells their book and gets them publicity.

Victim publicity is now a thing. It’s a new bandwagon, and I am frankly disgusted that it is mainstream now and may affect children growing up to think this is normal or morally good.

The morality today is skewed. This is my tiny fight back on a blog that no-one reads. Except I hope my daughter does read it one day.

 

 

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Important Status Update

All major headlines require you to make an official response on social media. It’s a new law.

Previously, important people were expected to issue a statement to the press when something big happened, like the death of an important person, an earthquake, flood, tsunami, volcanic eruption or act of terror.

Today, however, EVERYONE is compelled to do this.

This is because, in the past, it took a great effort to put pen to paper, lick a stamp, walk to the post box and then wait for possible publication in the letters page of the organ of choice, but today it’s a social media status update, done in a few seconds with a thumb.

You are, at the very least, expected to respond to the news post by clicking on an emoticon for crying, or that depicts shock or anger. If you really are bothered enough, you may make an actual comment.

Sometimes there is a call for further action – to “share”, to sign a petition, to send thoughts and prayers, or even to change your avatar profile picture to something with a flag on it.

Doing nothing is not an option.

And what do you do when there has not been a major event and you have the usual burning desire to comment to your followers and friends? You have to find a meme or fake news,  or anything that allows you to issue a public statement and share your dearly held views.  There are plenty of meme generators click baiters for that very reason.

We’re all important broadcasters and commentators now. Infatuation with information has met with egocentricity and narcissism.

Infatuation with information merges with egocentricity and narcissism.

And when that happens, nothing could be less social than social media.

Sometimes I wonder if this is the way the baddies might win. I often wonder why we register or acknowledge such events and then move on to the next thing. Perhaps if we didn’t feed them, the monsters would quit and leave us to have a social time on social media.

 

Educational Restyle

Everything has changed in my son’s primary school now that there is a new headmaster since the headmistress retired.

Under her leadership, football in the playground was banned. There was no school team to play other teams. It engendered bad behaviour and competitiveness apparently.

The School Sports Day was always bizarre – no-one won anything. There was no medal ceremony. The children played in “countries”, but the ages, genders, ethnicities and just-about-everything-else was mixed up. Everyone was a winner.

Now we have a man at the helm.

We now have four new houses. The children run for house captain in an election. they even have to submit an application form and state their case. There are teacher changes too – heads of P1&2, of 3&4 and of P5&6.

Locals have spotted him bringing from the local shops a carton of milk for the staffroom – some have even seen him playing football with the children in the playground at lunchtime.

Children can earn points and prizes now, trading earned “Golden Time” for extensions of time on returning homework.

You get the idea; there are fundamental and comprehensive changes – more than I have hinted at here. Are things better? Who knows? Only time can tell.

In many ways, it seems to me, things are returning to an educational model closer to the one I experienced myself a great many years ago.

I wonder if this is a new thing – a countrywide initiative, or because the new head is a (dare I go there) man?

Energy Issues

People talk about solar panels. These days, though, they probably mean PV panels. What’s the difference? Well, solar panels make hot water, but photovoltaic or PV panels make electricity.

When this PV panel thing started, for no real reason, they were wired up such that the electric meter turned backwards when the electricity produced by the panels exceeded the house’s needs. And that is fascinating. And a problem.

You see, your utility provider for electricity buys electricity from the grid-power station at wholesale prices. They add a markup and sell to you at their retail price. The meter keeps tabs on how much electricity you used.

However, if you produce electricity – turning back your meter, then you are effectively selling electricity to the utility company at the same retail price you buy from them.

The utility company is seeing this growing exponentially, and it is now asking for a review such that you ought to sell to them at the same wholesale price as the grid-power station supplier.

There is talk of two meters being required, two tariffs, and the PV panels wired up differently.

Watch this space.

The Internet is Rubbish Now

You may be able to tell that I am upset. The Internet did this to me. I gave it many chances. I forgave and forgot. But no more.

We are all now in a weird place, don’t you think? Real retail shopping mall shops are failing us but so now is the Internet. And, after some reflection and consideration, the Internet is actually worse.

Over several weeks I shopped for clothes and shoes in massive malls. It was not a good experience; I am not a great one for shopping. After work, I would drive, park, and trudge through a mall, scour racks and shelves, try on items and struggle to refrain from despair.

Jeez. It’s not that I am a fashionista, thrifty, picky, unusually proportioned, or have anything terribly untoward going on. Really. It should never be this difficult.

I just wanted a pair of casual trousers or jeans that (a) had a zip fly, and (b) fitted me. The cost is not an issue. But it turns out that the button fly is massively dominant, and I have extraordinarily short legs (73 cm or about 29 American Imperial Inches).

This is a surprise to me because my legs have not changed in all my adult life, and I used to be able to swing into a shop back in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s and find a wide selection in my leg-length. So something has changed.

Maybe this is why I see so many hipsters folding up their trouser legs.

Additionally, I discovered to my horror that some manufacturers don’t bother with the traditional tried and tested measurements, and go for small, medium, large and XL. Yes, in menswear. For men. Crivvens, what is the world coming to?

Worse still – some labels are just wrong. It’s fake news all over again; I’d find a pair of trousers at 73/29 leg and it would cover my foot with the material – clearly longer than the label suggested! It is insane! Same with shoes. I’m a 44 (9.5 UK) – but some 44s I couldn’t get on if my foot had been lubed in goose fat first.

The shop assistants are hopeless too; it used to be a thing of annoyance in the past when assistants would ask if you needed help. My recent experience is that NO-ONE ever approaches you in any shop whatsoever. You could spend more time shopping for an assistant than shopping. And when or if you do find someone and ask for help, they say unhelpful things like:

“Yes, some manufacturers make a big small and some made a small small, so you have to ignore the label and just try everything on.”

I thought all that was bad enough, but the Internet was far worse.

For goodness sake, what is the point of a search engine that doesn’t provide results based on what was input?

It seems to me that – irrespective of what you type in – and regardless of syntax, the results (for pages and pages) are just plain wrong.

It seemed too odd, so I looked into it as much as the search engine would let me. It seems to be more about search engine optimisation (SEO), Google rules and algorithms, and less about the original concept of returning matches. Web pages now are Active Server Pages (asp and aspx) – or unsearchable for other reasons, so it’s not entirely the fault of the search engine.

Not only that, but the cookie and data exchange will inform the visiting site to change to suit an advertising and marketing brief.  The resulting web page (and prices) are based on what device you are using, how expensive and new it is, where you are on the planet, your history in terms of searching, shopping, and surfing. And who knows what else? Dynamic targeted marketing.

This does not take into account important things like (a) you could be shopping for a gift or searching on behalf of someone else, (b) you could be using your firm’s computer, routed through their London office, or (c) using a borrowed device.

The end result is a grand waste of time.

Ergo, the Internet is useless.

Trousers apart, I tried a lot of shoes and had to admit defeat. Clarks’s range is now tiny, Brantano has vanished. Deichmann never has my size, and I resorted to the likes of JD Sports and even Debenhams. No chance – and I am far from being fussy or “into shoes”.

As I liked the shoes I already have, I decided that I would try to get the exact same ones to replace them. My thinking was that I would not have to try them on – so perfect for Internet shoe shopping.

I tried all sorts of hacks and subversions – TOR browsers, cookie cleaners, search syntaxing, different search engines, reverse image searches and more besides. I eventually found a shoe that would exactly replace my old ones from a UK shop at a reasonable price of about £35.

When I went to the checkout, the web page had “Super fast delivery” ticked – and it wouldn’t let me untick the box! I had no option other than to accept £7.75 super fast delivery. That upped the cost considerably – I thought about all the weeks of time and effort already spent and decided to go ahead this one time.

Instead of £42.75, my credit card was charged over £48 because of a currency transaction! – Yep, they were coming from abroad – despite all my effort to search only UK shops and websites. Argh! All for a simple pair of size 9 lace-up grey/ blue casual canvasy shoes.

An unwanted increase of 39% on the price. And it turns out “Super Fast Delivery” is 7 to 10 days.

Eventually I received a pair of size 8 Beige Converse All Stars. In case you are not keeping up – this is a completely different shoe in every possible way.

Okay – if you have read this far, you are probably thinking I’ve ranted and got off my chest a gripe over trousers and a pair of cheap shoes, and that the problem is really just me as a person or my inability to deal with tech or shops or whatever. But is that true? I don’t think so.

I have just had venetian blinds made wrong and delivered late – twice. It’s not convenience, it’s not cheap, and it’s not a simple click. It’s just getting in the way. The Internet is like a bad translator or a deaf friend.

I think my experiences are typical; I hear others, younger and older with similar tales. We have ordered a bed online recently – and that is a saga too.

So what are we going to do about it?

We do what everyone does: we can accept it. We take the holidays we are given by the cookie monster fed Internet. We can accept delivery of clothes that don’t fit and either send them back or sell them on. Or we can return to real reality. That’s what I plan on doing.

I have finally realised that I need to cut out the Internet and take my chances in REAL LIFE.

And one more thing –  only shop when it is absolutely necessary.

Home Alone

I always thought it was illegal for parents to leave their children alone, but it turns out to be a myth; you can.

Parents can legally leave their children in cars, or at home, alone.

Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.

That’s all there is to it. It’s up to the parents throughout the UK to make that call.

I suppose then, that if a parent judges the children to be mature enough, and if they are in a safe environment for a short while, then – in the unusual event of something bad happening (such as an intruder), it would be irrational to blame the parents.

Being a “helicopter parent” is something I try to fight against; children need space to develop and grow – they need to go out with their friends, to cross the street by themselves, and to be able to be trusted to survive being left alone for a short time.

I would hate to think that – should an accident happen – I would be blamed and possibly ruined.

Would it be better to mollycoddle and raise dependent, incapable adults?

Good Can Win Over Evil if…

In RL Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, it is clear that everyone has good and evil within. To remove the evil in order to be 100% pure good, means that the 100% bad part is freed into the wild with dangerous consequences.

Although the total good or evil remains the same, the effect is a strange case indeed. Perhaps it’s not what you do, but the way that you do it? Perhaps we ought to have the internal good v evil battle to “win” and be virtuous or worthy of the afterlife in heaven… or something.

It is a fascinating novella, and a great subject for discussion and thought. However, the most interesting notion to be teased from this work is, for me, the external manifestation of good and of evil.

Let me go further, does the good erase or in some way make up for any bad that someone does. I don’t mean atonement or penance, not exactly (although that is also very interesting), rather, I am taken with the idea of someone inventing or discovering something, but being a thoroughly disagreeable person – perhaps even considered evil.

I know that this is a poor introduction to what I am on about. Sorry about that. It’s just that it seems to come up again and again in recent times.

Take Wagner – a brilliant, innovative and unique composer – but a Nazi sympathiser and Jew-hater. Even today, his music is taboo in Israel. Can it be possible or reasonable to separate the man from his work – to allow yourself to enjoy his music and disagree with his politics?

In recent times in the UK, it has become clear that in some celebrities at least, the evil side of the personality triumphed from time to time. Jimmy Savile became a prominent BBC radio and television personality, gained fans and followers, brought entertainment and enjoyment to millions, and raised over £40 million for charities. However, it seems he might have had a dark side as a sexual predator. All of which has come out after he died.

Do the allegations and accusations overthrow or trump the good works?

Should they?

Rolf Harris was a role model – someone to look up to, a national treasure, but he’s in jail for sexual offenses. How should I feel about that?

Wagner was open and unapologetic, but no-one knew any bad things about Savile until after he died. Harris’s dark side was hidden – but he was found out while alive, and brought to justice.

Some people say that we ought not to speak ill of the dead, and I am inclined that way myself particularly if nothing can be gained by raking up evil.

Take Savile – he did good works and died. His bad side was then discovered. The big question I had at the time this came out in the media was – why did no-one speak up while he was alive to defend, respond or be brought to justice. If he was prolific as is suggested, surely some of the blame has to be borne by those who, by keeping schtum, allowed further abuse to take place. But all-in-all, what overall good would come of posting allegations over the front pages? I do think that the end result of this particular case is to negate the good. So the whole thing is just pure Mr. Hyde.

Wagner is different. He did not hide his antisemitic views. I wonder that – if he had held them as a dark secret – would people stop liking his music upon discovering “the truth”? Another thought – would his personal beliefs make people listen to his music? And so what? Does anything matter? If his beliefs were not known, what difference would it make to his music, and how it is received as music?

Pop Stars align themselves with political movements – should they? Should it matter to us? Should I stop liking or listening to their songs?

Rolf Harris is different again; he was disgraced and will pay his debt to society. By going to jail, by apologising and atoning, he is cleansed. In theory anyway. Harris faced justice, and gets a clean slate – so all his works, his TV, his books, his paintings – even his pop songs, all should be OK to like – shouldn’t they?

My thought is that we should always be inclined to good, to an exemplary life – even if fake. Why? Because fake is normal. We each have good and evil. We do good and bad, we have to try to let good win. Good must outweigh bad in the scales.

That way lies hope.

Savile did good for more people than he did bad. That’s tough to type in this climate; it goes against everything just now. Same with Harris. Unlike Savile, Harris was found guilty – and is paying. Wagner didn’t even DO anything; he merely held a view that is unpopular. Why can’t we just focus on the good stuff as a default rule? Doing so doesn’t condone crime or evil or unpopular extremist views. Really it doesn’t.

Michael Jackson was a long list of accusations of child abuse, and yet it is widely considered acceptable to enjoy his musical legacy without a care about all that – why? Why is Jackson different from Savile? Jackson didn’t do as much for charity as Savile – Jackson was keeping his money for himself. Is this a double standard?

I remember when Rock Hudson died and it came out that he was actually homosexual. He clearly did not want this to be known while he was alive. He did not want to represent homosexuality. that’s just who he was and what he wanted to do. To out him after his death is not really fair to my mind.

Now I am not for one minute suggesting that homosexuality is evil or that Hudson’s dark side contained his gay secret. I am suggesting that he was careful about his public image and probably would have wanted to maintain that as his legacy. What good did outing him bring? People today look at him playing the very heterosexual male roles in pictures, and know what he really was – and that was likely to be exactly what Rock Hudson did not want to happen. People may even boycott his films because of that. I have heard of Christian fundamentalists taking that view.

There seems to be a popular trend for seeing the bad in people, in revealing things that ought to be hidden, and I don’t go along with that.

If someone was struggling with a personal issue, a dark side, a kink, an addiction – whatever, what business is it of mine? What good does it do society at large to display the flaws sufficient to overshadow any goodness?

I would suggest that the sooner we as a society drop this trend in favour of role models of positivity and good, then we can return to aspiration, looking forward, making good, advancement, and betterment.

My Selfie Stick Hack

I bought a selfie stick from the Pound Shop. It cost me a pound.

2017-06-10_141734

It has an extendable handle and, at the top, a phone grip.

2017-06-10_141905You can remove the top grip from the extendable handle.

2017-06-10_142034This allows you to play – I have a bendy flexy camera tripod that I attached to the phone grip – and voila, I have a phone tripod!

Notice that the bottom of the small camera has a tripod screw – well that is standard, and the extending handle fits!

2017-06-10_142109I tried it on a proper SLR, and it fits, but it’s not really strong enough to trust with a pound shop extendable handle for a selfie-stick!

 

2017-06-10_142210

Still, it was worth a try!

The children can now use the flexy tripod thing to attach their smartphones to their bicycles and film away – or they can just take selfies. I like that I can extend the small family camera as the quality is better than a phone, and I plan to wade out into the sea on the holidays, filming from above in HD.

What do you think? Any other suggestions?

That’s How Bad It Is

I spoke with a chap today who just started working for us on a complicated and convoluted project in trouble to the tune of several tens of millions. He was taking over from the chap who was thrown off the job for being “too contractual”.

I asked “How are you finding things? How is the job? Better or worse than you thought?”

He replied. “Well. it’s going like a horse on fire.”

I have to say, this made me choke on my lunch. This is my new phrase – a delicious blend of house on fire mixed with flogging a dead horse and bolting the door after the horse has bolted.

Is this chap a genius?

Terrorisation

We all recall where we were when x happened.

JFK, Lockerbie, 9-11,  7-7, whatever. It’s relentless, isn’t it?

But then – it’s not always about the bad; remember putting a man on the moon, or Nelson Mandela walking to freedom, the fall of the USSR, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Good stuff is also relentless.

And sometimes our jaws drop in wonder at the good as much as at the bad.

That’s life.

Good and bad.

The facts of life are not terribly difficult to understand – sh*t happens sometimes, but so does great stuff. Our greatest enemy is nature – we constantly fight it to keep dry, to keep warm, to keep fed.

Our greatest enemy is nature – we constantly fight it to keep dry, to keep warm, to keep fed. But it fights back and takes a massive toll in floods, landslides, sinkholes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes, and more besides.

Then there is the man-made stuff; bad stuff is not always “mother nature” or “the gods”; people can also wreak havoc: gunmen in schools, rapists, pillagers, suicide bombers, politicians, mentally unstable people and the angry and intolerant.

What happens is this – a natural disaster occurs and everyone goes on the media and social media to send thoughts and prayers. A fund may be set up. We come together, we rebuild. Life goes on.

Then when a bomb goes off, everyone goes on the media and social media to send thoughts and prayers. A fund may be set up. We come together, we stand defiant, we rebuild and life goes on.

The subtle difference between a natural event and a man-made event is that we feel we could somehow have prevented the man-made one happening.

But is that true?

Look, I have small children. I know they could get a virus, they could get injured, the could be attacked. We all know the possibilities, the risks. But I also know that they could have wonder, fun, and experience joy and happiness too and that I need to let them have their own life and stop being so over-protective. It’s the contrast between the lows and highs that adds the most drama.

What can y’do?

I totally understand people demanding that “something should be done” when bad things happen. I get the calls for change, for more checks and balances, for tighter security, for arming police – for a complete change in our way of life.

But I do not want that. Instead, I feel that it is not what happens as much as how one deals with what happens. How quickly things get back on course – back to “normal”. Of course, if something happened to my child, I would feel what any parent would – but I would not demand change. I would insist on the opposite.

Yes, I have come to terms with terrorism. I see it as a risk as much as any natural event.  I won’t take it personally. I accept the pain, the shame, the anguish, I feel for all survivors everywhere. I just think we all have to accept that sh*t happens and we cannot prevent it. It could be an earthquake, or it could be a terrorist. It doesn’t really matter which at the end of the day. It ought not to stop anyone living a life and making the best of it.

There is little point in calling for an eye for an eye or to fight fire with fire or to gnash teeth and wring hands. We have to push through the loss, the grief, the senselessness of life. That is all – nothing could have stopped it, no measures are air-tight, and who would wish to live in such an air-tight claustrophobic nanny state world (apart from terrorists, that is)?

Getting on with it is not an act of defiance or some show against terrorism, it is simply a fact of life. A knee-jerk reaction is never a good option. Why does anything have to change because of a weird event? Every base cannot be covered.

My call is to allow people to get on with dealing with life as best they can without undue and unhelpful interference or influence. Life’s hard enough.