A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The tale is told about a farmer who got a surprise inspection from the agricultural wages board. The official wanted to see all the paperwork relating to any employed labour.

“So who do you employ?”
”Well there’s the cowman, here’s his payslips, he’s on £30K a year with a house and a jap pickup for getting about in. Works forty hours a week but some of that is guaranteed overtime.”

“Is there anybody else?”

“Yes, there’s a general farm worker. He’s on £25K, doesn’t get a house, works forty hours with overtime. Here’s his payslips.”

The official checked the paperwork. “Seems satisfactory; is there anybody else?”

The farmer thought briefly, and then said, “Well there’s the idiot.”

“And what does he do?”

The farmer shrugged. “Bit of this and that, about a hundred hours a week, covers for the other two when they’re off, gets his baccy money and even the occasional fiver to buy his self a pint.”
”That does it,” the official said, “I’ve got to speak to the idiot.”
The farmer just looked at him. “You are doing.”


Yep, that’s the world I’ve come out of. I once calculated that the previous financial year I’d earned the magnificent sum of £0.09 an hour.


Now then you might well ask where I’m coming from. I’m not looking for sympathy; I know where to find that. As a friend of mine once remarked, “You’ll find it in the dictionary between sh*t and syphilis.”

Not it’s just I was re-reading ‘The Other’ by Matthew Hughes, a talented Sci-Fi writer whose work I enjoy.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006FIW36K/



I’ll quote him, rather than try and explain it myself;-


“At that moment, Imbry experienced an instance of the abrupt mental dislocation that often struck those who travelled widely among the Ten Thousand Worlds. He had heard it called the ‘Bump’ or the ‘dissonance’ and had encountered it himself more than once. It was the psychic shock suffered by a human being from one world who suddenly became aware that the person from some other world with whom he was innocently interacting possessed a radically, perhaps chillingly, different mindscape.


The two might be chance-met in a tavern. They would fall into innocent chat about inconsequential matters, each convinced by the other’s views on the weather or the quality of the beer that they were like-minded in all that matters. Until one of them offers an offhand comment about the tedium involved in having to sell his surplus offspring, or enthuses salaciously about next week’s public evisceration of a malefactor whose crime turns out to be something like scratching a buttock within ten paces of the portrait of a local saint.


An icy frisson passes through the stranger. He holds himself perfectly still though his eyes dart about, alarmed. Shadows seem to gather about him. All at once it seems perfectly possible, even likely, that the bland couple sitting at an adjacent table, or the idlers in the street outside might without warning show fangs and unsheathe claws, leap upon the hapless visitor, and turn an until-now pleasant excursion into an impromptu abattoir.”


Now I’m sure I’ve experienced the ‘Bump’ or ‘dissonance’. I’ve had my run-ins with modern culture, even blogged about it.



But I had a real ‘dissonance’ experience on Facebook. There I was minding my own business when I read someone’s post. She was really upset that somebody didn’t tip. The person who had upset her had been into a café or something and not left a tip, they may even have boasted about it!

Now then, I’d probably be in my teens the first time that I saw someone leave a tip, two shillings slipped under his plate in an auction mart café. Tipping just wasn’t done. I’d heard women mortified that someone had tried to tip them. I’d grown up thinking that tipping was something shocking from our past, like sending children up chimneys to clean them. It was the employer’s job to pay people, and if they didn’t pay, you didn’t work there and you let everyone know and people didn’t eat there either. It might happen in big cities down south but that merely proved it was wrong.


So the discussion that followed was something of a shock, to put it mildly.


We don’t need aliens to provide the weird in our lives, people are alien enough to do that.


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9 thoughts on “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  1. M T McGuire March 14, 2014 at 1:46 pm Reply

    That’s very true although I’ve always tipped in restaurants unless the service is awful. I discovered a blog about waiting at tables written by someone in the US. I was intrigued and slightly amazed to find an article railing about how miserly we Brits are at tipping. It was followed a whole page of comments giving examples of what horrors Brits are for only ever leaving 10% until someone left a comment saying something along the lines of “did it occur to any of you to tell the Brits that a standard US tip is 20%?” at which point I stopped reading.

    It is interesting though, isn’t it, how something that is the norm, for one bunch of people can become an insult to another through the simple expedient of removing one vital piece of knowledge. So now you know. If you eat out in the States, tip 20% or don’t go back.



    • jwebster2 March 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm Reply

      Wouldn’t it just be easier to pay the staff?

      If the standard tip is 20% you’re not the customer, you’re the employer!

      • M T McGuire March 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

        I know, it’s crazy but apparently it’s true. That’s why Americans give such huge tips when they come over here, because they don’t know.

      • jwebster2 March 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm

        Strange are the ways of others. Just because they speak the same language we assume we understand them 🙂

      • M T McGuire March 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        So True.

  2. Kay Kauffman March 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm Reply

    At the risk of being pelted with tomatoes by other Americans, I never knew much about tipping till I got married (the second time) because in my family, tipping just wasn’t done, despite it apparently being the cultural norm here (again, didn’t find that out till I was an adult). I always thought it was an optional kind of a thing, and being less than impressed with the service in most places, I tend not to tip unless the service is really outstanding.

    *borrows tin helmet from kindly author friend*

    • jwebster2 March 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm Reply

      Fear not, I keep a pile of suitable helmets and flak jackets by my desk 🙂
      Interesting to see it’s not a universal US custom

  3. keirarts March 17, 2014 at 10:40 am Reply

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enJwYaeolXc A few thoughts on tipping. Caution foul language!

    • jwebster2 March 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Tipping or not tipping seems to bring it on 🙂

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