15. The Groom of the Stool

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I don’t like, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

1. Mostly, the weather was pleasant enough. Though a big chunk of the meeting itself was not.

Mr B will be hiring a body guard from now on:

Professional wrestler Mario Milano.

2. Steve Maxwell is recuperating well after his successful operation. Let’s hope we see him this coming Sunday. (And recognise him.)

3. The Domain Trust has finally installed a much needed ramp for the disabled. Thank you, Trust!

4. The ‘something nice’ segment. To charm some and irritate others.

5. We hope the crowds at Speakers’ Corner continue to grow. We’d like around 200 people, but on drizzly days we are lucky to get 10% of that figure.

6. Grasshopper numbers may be down next week due to the Palm Sunday march in support of refugees at 2pm. The hecklers are encouraged to go on that march. Nay, urged.

7. Mr B felt obliged to talk about ‘The Groom of the Stool‘, the man given the job of attending to a king’s bottom after the king has defecated. This practise began in the middle ages and ceased in 1901, when King Edward 7th took the throne (so to speak).

It was a well paid high status job. That’s because the groom’s close association with the king fostered trust. He was able to look the king in the eye (so to speak).

When asked if a form of toilet paper was used, Mr B admitted that he did not know. He was also negligent in not explaining the groom’s role when the king took a pee. This scribe wants to know if the groom had to hold it for him and aim. All of us wanted to know that.

We learned that there have been 41 Grooms of the Stool serving the last 17 kings, and that the female equivalent was called ‘The First Lady of the Bedchamber‘.

Why did Mr B inform us of all this? He claims he wanted to point out a paradigm that we ‘are in’. A paradigm is a collective belief held by a society that seems normal to those living in that society, but appears weird to those living in another country, or in another time. For example, decades ago most western people believed that women shouldn’t vote, work, or inherit property. Most people thought that view was right and sensible. That belief was a paradigm. We can look back and think ‘That’s weird. How could they have believed that?!‘  That’s because we are no longer influenced by that particular paradigm and can see the absurdity for what it is.

We have absurd paradigms of our own, says Mr B, but we can’t see them because we are ‘in them’.

We can look back and see clearly that for a human being to hire another human being to clean their backside for them demeans both parties, yet we think it’s morally okay for one human being to hire another human being to clean their abode for them. Mr B thinks the two practises are on the same continuum. He says that if we want our house cleaned we have a moral responsibility to do the job ourselves. (Exceptions exist.)

Of course, no one agreed with Mr B. But he would say we don’t agree with him because we are ‘in’ the paradigm that says the practise is okay. We can’t yet see the absurdity of our belief. He says that in 100 years people might look back at us and say, ‘How could they have believed that that was okay?

He forgets that we’ll be dead by then.

A Groom of the Stool

8. Other subjects discussed:
– The merit of the government’s move to lower the company tax rate, and the tax rate’s relationship with globalisation.

–  This week there was no assertiveness tip. It was tactfully left alone. But poems were read on the Ladder of Sensitivity and all three were enjoyed by this scribe.

– Is it fair that taxi drivers, having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a taxi licence, now have to compete with Uber drivers who have paid nothing to provide the same taxi service? And that due to this, the taxi drivers have had their taxi licences plummet in value? Which means that effectively, every shift they have worked may have been a financial loss. ‘Is that fair?’, it was asked.

– Mr B recommends changes to the high school curriculum. He said that instead of asking teachers to teach a language, history and geography, let’s pay them to teach basic but important life skills such as financial competence and how to cook a healthy meal; how to change a spark plug, a tap’s washer and a flat tyre; as well as emotional intelligence and assertiveness skills. He reckons we should be helping children prepare for a life of unclear and changing career opportunities, and that building emotional resilience and basic life competence in the kids would be a good start. Yes, all students should get those skills from their parents, he agreed, but the majority don’t, he added.
It would not be unreasonable to say that his suggestions were met with disagreement.

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