I've been to plenty of events that remain in note form and will get to them eventually but one that deserves a mention is Julian Baggini's talk on Complaining and meanwhile to keep us all nice and calm here's a soothing picture of the Meditation Garden at Dartington.
I think plenty of people were hoping we'd pick up tips on how to turn a Victor Meldrew moment into a Victor Ludorum moment and reap ourselves loads of cash for tripping over a paving stone but it quickly became apparent that we we were to be bathed in philosophical argument and this at 3.30pm in the afternoon.
Hell's teeth this is not my best hour of the day to be waxing philosophical, in fact it's my hour of the day for winding up my visits and heading back to the surgery; first one back filches milk from the doctor's common room and gets the kettle on as we prepare to swap notes on the traumas and those amusing little anecdotes of the day. The pit bull terrier that has perched on the lap throughout the visit because you have inadvertently sat on its squeaky toy, the house with the tank full of tarantulas, little things like that and then you write up all the clinical records in case anyone, well...complains I suppose.
Then we check all the phone messages in case, well in case anyone's complained by phone.
That said I think I coped admirably with all Julian Baggini's arguments, please just don't ask me to repeat them all because there are complaints and then there are other complaints and then there are degrees of complaints. There was mention of the grievance culture we now live in and the need to hold someone accountable and apportion blame, but still no news on the productive paving stone dosh complaint.
Using the ability of complaint correctly would seem to be an art form I don't possess.
I tend to send Bookhound in on my behalf these days because he's exceptionally good at it. I always seem to start any complaint with an apology about being a nuisance and it all races downhill towards a complimentary voucher for something I don't want, whereas he gets full refunds and compensation.
My best complaining moment ever in the world was however born of the despair of the young mother which, once upon a time, I was.
There's nothing like despair to spur you on to dizzying heights of complaining achievement and as Julian said, the point of a complaint is to change things.
The revolutionary new washing machine with 1300rpm spin that mostly failed to spin at all and trapped the half-washed wet nappies fourteen times in four months. We became sort-of good friends with the repair man who always took about three days to arrive even though we were on a 24 hour repair contract, by which time the nappies were ripening and clearing the immediate vicinity of all human life. Phone calls to manufacturers achieved precisely nothing and eventually in a fit of complete despair I wrote a Private & Confidential letter to the Managing Director of
Hoover the washing machine company and said my goods were clearly not of merchantable quality and unless they bought this dire piece of rubbish back within a week it would be placed in our showroom window (the days when Bookhound had an interior design showroom in town) and I would paste all the repair dockets around it.
Cheque arrived in the next post.
I'm not sure whether this was a complaint of the luddite, self-serving, self-defeating, conformist or empty genre but sometimes I think we get beyond the point of caring and just have to give it hell.
So please, if you are of a philosophical nature, don't complain that I haven't done the book justice, I really am very very sorry about that, and besides you can change things, your dilemma is easily resolved, off you go and seek out the book Complaints, From Minor Moans to Principled Protests by the very entertaining and doubtless expert complainer, Julian Baggini.