Speaking to my inner anthropologist


Yes I do know it’s New Year’s eve. Even if I wasn’t on social media, I’ve still got access to a perfectly adequate calendar. It has to be confessed that I’ve never made a big deal of the New Year. Having been the one who was up at 5:30am for thirty consecutive New Year’s mornings doesn’t help.

It’s just that today I would walk into town. It was a beautiful afternoon, and there’s a couple of very pleasant walks to get there. Not only that but whilst I was at it I could pay a cheque in to the bank. When I arrived at the bank at just after 2pm it was shut. On the door the sign said that on Tuesdays it would be open to 4:30pm, and a rather hacked off young lady was staring at the sign muttering something under her breath. It turns out she’d gone to the trouble of going onto the website to check that it wouldn’t be shut, and the website said it would be open.
Still the bank was just something I would do as I was passing so I wasn’t too fussed. But there was one incident that intrigued me. I passed the barbers where I normally get my hair cut. Now this is not a fashionable salon. It’s very much the sort of place where you can still get your hair cut for six pounds. A young man was looked at the door. The notice on the door said that it would shut at 4:30pm, and at 2:30pm the shop was ostentatiously shut. (Do we detect a pattern here?)

Anyway I merely commented to him that with the weather turning colder, he might be glad of longer hair. He commented that, actually, it was all his fault. “I spent the last hour putting my clothes out to wear tonight.”

Suddenly I felt like the anthropologist who discovers an incomprehensible native custom that the indigenes seem to assume to be normal.
How on earth can you spend an hour putting clothes out to work out what to wear? In an hour I can come in from working, shower, shave, change, have a coffee and a sandwich and be out again with time to spare. It didn’t take me an hour to get ready the day I got married!

I mean, how much do you actually have to wear before it takes an hour just to lay it out ready?
Stopping to think about it, it’s never taken me that length of time. Then I remembered the words of the greatest observer of them all.


“IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.”
Thus the great C Northcote Parkinson started his great work, “Parkinson’s Law.”
If you’ve never read it, you really should.

Anyway, Happy New Year.


Actually, if you’re short of something to read, you would probably enjoy

Available in paperback or as an ebook.
As a reviewer commented, “This author has created a rich world, filled with interesting characters – of whom Maljie is one of the most colourful. Her life and adventures are presented though the gossip of the poet Tallis Steelyard who has a sharp eye and a sharper tongue. Reminiscent somewhat of Pepys’ diaries about the small and large events of London, Tallis is a better writer. And why is Mr Webster dangerous – too much of my money is being spent on his books.”

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12 thoughts on “Speaking to my inner anthropologist

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 31, 2019 at 8:06 pm Reply

    I wake up from a deep nap before dinner, and in FIVE minutes have changed into a dress for dinner, done my hair, put on earrings and shoes and my nametag – and am sitting on Maggie, ready to go. Husband at this point doesn’t even have his shoes on. That time includes choosing which dress to wear. I am considered fashionable here.

    • jwebster2 December 31, 2019 at 8:11 pm Reply

      It has to be said that the people to whom I’ve told the story break into two entirely separate tribes. Those who can be ready in less time than it takes to read the blog, and those for whom the whole process takes hours 🙂
      Neither tribe can really understand the other

  2. Sue Vincent December 31, 2019 at 10:34 pm Reply

    I’m a woman…and I can do the lot in half an hour and still have time for a cuppa…
    Happy new year to you and yours, Jim.

    • jwebster2 January 1, 2020 at 6:31 am Reply

      And all the best to you and yours 🙂

  3. tidalscribe January 2, 2020 at 12:35 am Reply

    The laying out of the clothes gave me a good laugh. We also got caught out supporting our local shops on Saturday morning after returning home on Friday night. The butcher and greengrocer both closed.

    • jwebster2 January 2, 2020 at 6:27 am Reply

      It’s getting to the stage where shops are shut longer for New Year than they are for Christmas!
      Ah well 🙂

  4. Widdershins January 2, 2020 at 2:15 am Reply

    I suppose it would depend on what sort of activity, or activities the lad was preparing to indulge in. 🙂 … Happy New Decade! 😀

    • jwebster2 January 2, 2020 at 6:28 am Reply

      It’s true, if he were scrubbing up for surgery, or planning an evening parachute jumping or scuba diving, I could see a need to take a fair amount of time 🙂

  5. Jack Eason January 25, 2020 at 7:36 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    More from our Jim 😉

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