Friday, January 8, 2016

Online dating fail

A week ago my darling daughter suggested I take advantage of a week's free membership of an online dating website.

The real-life Brenda

Even though I have always known online dating and a real life Margot Date would not be a match, I thought, why not?

And so I created a profile and called myself Brenda. If it was good enough for The Spectator and Princess Di to call QE11 Brenda, then it was good enough for me. There are not so many people called Margot in my world ...  maybe I wasn't playing by the spirit of the game, but I had a nagging feeling that this was not going to work out for me anyway ... and anyway it didn't.

The purpose of the site seems to be to make money for the owners. The cheapest offer was to pay $33.95 a month for a minimum of six months, paid in three instalments. As I have not much income at present while trying to build a business, it was easy to stick with my self-imposed non-sign-up-to-direct-debits after the week's free trial (today I had to tell the good folk helping our Paralympian Athletes I couldn't commit to them either).

In the first week I had more than 60 matches. Despite ticking all sorts of boxes I was matched with men who my mother would have called a GI...a geographic impossibility. Really, if someone three states away is awesome that's not going to work so well unless I want a pen-pal. More on that later.

There were a few chaps from my home town and close by. They all sounded great online. That's the thing about being online. You can be whoever you want to be. When you meet face-to-face you cannot hide.

They all love their children (of course they do - who doesn't?), many of them love motorcycling (ditch the wife, regain their freedom on two wheels?) and some even mentioned that they liked to cook. The self-descriptions were interesting. In the set question: What is the first thing people notice about you? One modest chap said he is told often that he looks like George Clooney. Yep, I'm sure he does. After a big night and with a hangover. Really? Whoever looks like a celebrity except that celebrity? I met a man at a conference who told me he was the spitting image of Leonardo DiCaprio. He may as well have said he was a dead ringer for John Smith, because there are more John Smiths in this world than the gorgeous and unmatched Leo.

I've had a pen-pal...a gorgeous man I met a couple of years ago. He had a situation that prevented an ongoing relationship, but we were email pen-pals for six months. Which was all rather flattering but what was the point?

Getting an email notification comes nowhere near shaking a man's hand, looking into his eyes and feeling that zing. So maybe it doesn't happen often, but when it does. Kapow! as our friend Batman would say.

I know of beautiful couples who have met online and I'm beyond happy for them. But this experience reminds me yet again of what my mother used to say to me as we walked around the small town where I grew up: If you could just marry a nice boy from this town your life would be simple, but I know you won't do that.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Canberra Cone of Silence

"The young woman at the centre of the Jamie Briggs's downfall ..."

This is how the national broadsheet began its coverage today of the aftermath of Jamie Briggs's inappropriate behaviour towards a DFAT staffer in a bar in Hong Kong.

There is no one at the centre of Jamie Briggs's downfall except the MP. There is no one at fault except him. Why he was out boozing in a bar past midnight when he was representing Australia beggars belief.

If he must be drinking at that hour, do so in private.

He couldn't even acknowledge at the media conference that he had done anything wrong: "At no point was it my intention to act inappropriately and I'm obliged to note for the record that nothing illegal has been alleged or in fact did occur." 

The trouble here is that politicians live by the rule that what happens in Canberra stays in Canberra ... and this rule follows them around as if they live in a cone of silence that protects them, which it mostly does. So they do whatever they like, knowing few people will call them out on bad behaviour.

Everyone in Canberra knows the rules. If you want to play in the big sandpit you have to keep your mouth shut.

The victims of sexual harrassment and/or bullying by politicians know that they will lose their job or their access or whatever it is they need from the politician if they dare breathe a word to anyone. This is because the politician with a bad reputation knows their career will either end or they will be shuffled off to the backbench and nobody is allowed to get in the way of an ambitious politician.

I know people who have been sacked by politicians when they dared to make a formal complaint about bullying. I know people who have been propositioned by [current] Cabinet Ministers. These victims are way higher up the food chain the many of us, but not as high as a Cabinet Minister. They will not be complaining to anyone because then the house of cards will come tumbling down, with them at the bottom of the pile.

I have friends who are politicians. They are delightful people and manage to behave properly. They know they have a high public profile so a stricter set of rules applies.

And so it should. Politicians made decisions that affect people's lives. They make the laws of the land. They decide if our country goes to war. I would prefer that they have a fairly clear head and an even clearer conscience when they are making these decisions.

There are very few Australians who have the honour of representing their constituents in the Australian Parliament - 150 in the House of Representatives and 76 in the Senate, from a population of almost 24 million people.

If you are unable to operate with a high level of personal responsibility, perhaps politics is not for you.