Mentally, I am not best disposed towards the rush. Physically, I am as capable as the next man – unless the next man is Usain Bolt – or in fact any one of the many, many millions of people who are actually more capable of rushing than me, in which case I am patently not as capable as the next man. OK, I withdraw that. I’ll start that sentence again… Physically, I am quite capable of the last minute dash, but it does not suit me temperamentally. My morning routine has to be quiet, sedate even. I am a sloth on a mission. I factor in every manner of unforeseen circumstance (which I now realise renders them foreseen, but you get my drift) and rise about an hour and a half before I actually have to. My daily shower, dress, coffee, breakfast etc custom, takes up a fraction of the time I have available to me and, consequently, when all of that is done, I watch quite a lot of morning TV before I leave for work: specifically BBC Breakfast, and it is due to this regular TV consumption that, more and more, I find myself facing the day with a burgeoning sense of dullness in the soul. Not so much pessimism as the grinding realisation of ‘how things are’. The realisation that no matter how long I close my eyes, when I open them it will all still be there. And when our world leaders move over, it will just be for an even bigger schmuk.
Now, I do understand the restrictions imposed by the BBC Charter. I do understand that in order to physically demonstrate its impartiality, the beeb must give equal voice to both sides in any argument and, in order to do this, it is often necessary to interview representatives of both opposing parties simultaneously, whereupon I can do nothing but admire the interviewer for having the tenacity to get a word or two in edgeways every now and again. The ramming in of pre-prepared ‘soundbites’ would be accompanied by an audible ‘clunk’ were it not drowned out by the cacophony of two parties talking over one another at an ever-increasing rate of decibels, yelling ‘If you’d just let me finish…’ at some hapless reporter who is attempting to respond to a producer’s call to ‘wrap in thirty’ without punching somebody on the nose.
One feature of these confrontations is often an accusation by one party (and quite often both) of intransigence by the other; an unwillingness to negotiate. This is usually accompanied by the bald statement that a return to the table for full and frank discussions – without precondition is, in fact, conditional upon ‘the other side’ conceding to all demands before the negotiations begin, e.g. ‘We’re calling you out for not negotiating whilst we are demonstrably willing to negotiate – providing you give in first.’ What has happened to the English language? At what point did Negotiate come to mean ‘Earnest discussion on a subject of disagreement undertaken only after the point of the discussion has been conceded’? It’s nonsense, and it worries me.
In all aspects of this life, compromise is essential. Compromise works, but it is a two-way street. It only works when both sides compromise a little – otherwise for one side it is ‘giving in’ and for the other ‘total victory’; both are unhealthy options that can lead only to bitterness and disappointment – like grapefruit sorbet. Total victory smacks a little too much of bullying, and no-one is able to pick the positives out of total defeat. You are right to believe in the veracity of your own opinions, but wrong if you believe that you will persuade anyone else to support them by shouting loudly. Opinions are wasted if decisions have already been made. An imposition of definite outcome does little to engender positive suggestion and ‘I see your intransigence and raise it by my own obduracy’ will seriously help no-one. Disagreements are not settled in that way – even if you allow yourself an extra hour and a half in the morning in order to do it.
A compromise is an agreement where both parties get what neither of them wanted – Anon