Rule Number Two: See Rule Number One.

I think there are rules in life that none of us will ever understand.
Some of them make sense. Such as don’t drink and drive for example. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure the rationale behind such an order but oddly enough it’s still one many of the countries of the world, those that have people, alcohol and moving vehicles in sufficient numbers suffer with.
Though it’s not just cars, ever tries riding a bicycle while inebriated? Good luck.

And then there are the rules that exist just because. I was standing in the line for my Starbucks this morning -one of the few drone-esque machinations to corporate living I have mind you – overhearing the experienced barista teaching a girl I hadn’t seen before, obviously new, and evidently having trouble getting the protocol down pat. Conversation something like this:
“But why does the base have to go in first?”
“It just does”.
“Yes but why?”
“Because Starbucks says so”.
“But it doesn’t make a difference if you put flavouring in first..”
“The rule is base first, follow the rule”.

Newbie wasn’t impressed at the ‘It just does’ argument but she shut up and put the base (hot milk I’m guessing here) in the cup first, followed by the espresso shots. It didn’t matter to me either way, just as long as I can have my coffee wet. That is no foam which takes up a quarter of the mug space, if I’d wanted cappuccino I would have asked for it.

But it got me thinking. Why does Starbucks create such a rule that has no merit when it comes to the rational evidence of creating a coffee with the milk poured in first? Actually there is evidence that if you pour milk in the cup before the hot water it not only stops the cups from cracking from the sudden shock of temperature but also stops the coffee being burnt. It’s something I follow when I make my own coffee but Starbucks’ tend to be so laden with syrup, sugar, sprinklings and heaven knows what else that it’s rare I can tell one from another anyway. It’s the non-alcoholic equivalent of Johnny Walker. Can you tell the difference between Johnny Walker Blue, Black and Red? At a blind tasting? Doubt it.
But I think it’s also an example of the company asserting its authority over its staff. When a company like Starbucks can pay 0% tax in the UK cos it runs all its stores as independent companies (which gives them an on-paper annual turnover of virtually nothing thus low to no taxes) then ships the rest to some African nation with no precedent for UK tax law it can do what it likes when it comes to its employees.

Why do photography books always cost more than non-photography ones? I was browsing with my coffee this morning and found a fantastic A5 book entitled “People of New York”. Published in 2011 it was one guy’s attempt the previous summer to photograph the population of the city in all its eclectic glory. It looked wonderful. It cost £30.00.
For an A5 book.
It’s probably copy write issues but still.

The bookshop I was in was in the main Mall of the city, cited adjacent to a New Look. My mom often teases me saying that the bookshop must have a gravitational pull akin to a small planet cos it’s rare I walk past the place without venturing inside to mooch at the latest offers or just see if something takes my fancy.
I don’t do that with the New Look store, the UK brand of cheap highstreet fashion. Not as cheap as Primark but not as high quality as the likes of River Island or M&S. New Look was the proverbial cellar dweller before Primark arrived, so it’s not so much one step higher on the totem pole as there are instead squatters now parked up in the basement. A friend once asked me why, my reply something like: “The one on the left (New Look) sells reality, but the other one (the bookshop) sells magic and dreams”.

He made a gagging sound like he was going to vomit and I laughed, laughed at my own pretentious bullshit. But when it comes to UK fashion there is something there, at least in the small part of the country I inhabit.
I am what my mother jokingly affectionately calls a “Scandi”. That is someone of Scandinavian stature, a throwback of considerable proportions considering my mom’s Jewish and my dad’s a local boy. I stand taller than both of them, though my mom is 5’9’’ which for her day made her a giantess among her peers so she could share comfort when I have a bad day and feel overly freakish. Which can be often because for a woman, at least in a region where women of that dimension are rare, it does make me stand out. Blonde hair, long arms, slim hips, big feet (shudder!) thick body I don’t so much look overweight as capable. And I think for many reasons that’s what drives men to look elsewhere.
It’s either that or my horrifically bad personality… 

You can see why I thought I was Jay Novacek when I was little can’t you? So he was a boy, oddly enough that fact didn’t bother me, I just thought his name was cool, his hair was gorgeous and his quiet demeanour suited someone like me who didn’t say boo to a goose when I first heard his name. The fact that he was with the gang winning Superbowls wasn’t too shabby either.

So me and my Scandi frame went to New York last year and while I was walking about midtown I found the NHL shop on 5th Avenue. We don’t get to see a lot of hockey in the UK, it’s not a popular sport, the only time it’s regularly on television is during the Winter Olympics (and this year it happened to coincide with some of the worst storms the country’s ever seen so I’d often get just snippets of game play intersected with snow and digital breakup). But I got chatting to the guys in the store about Pittsburgh, the team I follow, and the decided on buying a jersey. Had to buy a small cos the mediums would drown me, and at 5’11’’ – I’m as tall as Uma Thurman and Gina Torres, both ladies I adore – there’s a fair bit to drown, and chose their goaltender, Marc Andre-Fleury #29 as my number of choice.

Assistant comes running over to tell me the bad news. “We shit the bed” he says (direct quote). Basically, all sport jerseys use the same steam heat-sealant process to create customised shirts. The store had just had a run of sales for the new defender the Penguins had picked up and were out of #2’s.
There were no number twos. You can see the poo declaration as oddly appropriate.
There were #2’s for the away jersey but there were no small sizes. We were certainly stuck with this one. So I just asked for a bit of a discount and a custom amalgamation of Away #2’s and Home #9’s. It looks ODD for anyone who knows hockey. But this is England; no one cares two hoots about the NHL. And I carry the look well. Vest top, shorty shorts, sandals and a baggy hockey top. Roll up the sleeves and add my bangles, bracelets and the heavy costume rings I got from Krakow and voila!
Urban Scandi, happy in her diaspora. Not 100% happy but if I did try to squeeze into a Lipsy dress I look like King Kong in drag. It’s not a good look, my Hannah Montana phase has definitely gone, that being a tip of the hat to Orange is the New Black.
But considering she’s now happy being Miley, sticking her tongue out and twerking everything she sees in hindsight that’s probably a good thing. Flesh coloured latex is not a good look for me.

What’s the point to this? I think it’s a question of what rules are we supposed to follow in life? Obvious ones like “Don’t touch live electricity pylons” are obvious. But when it comes to things like fashion, or how to make that perfect cup of coffee things are less black and white. Especially in today’s society, at least in this country where praise is less forthcoming than derision, and it’s more acceptable to critique and judge than offer encouragement.
I guess I’ve been exposed to the Daily Mail too much.

But the world is so grey these days. And I think because of that, along with people’s awareness to the varying shades the law has gone into overdrive trying to map and catalogue every individual instance in a quest to get a hand on the problem. The problem of knowledge, of an individual’s right (often shouted from the rooftops, with or without the help of alcohol) to do as they please, a situation not anticipated by the law that previously thought people possessed enough common sense and morality not to.
I don’t know where we go from here.

The opposition call this The Nanny State, where the government intervenes about everything. But the threat of litigation and being sued (thanks America!!!) terrifies everyone, from schools to businesses. So things have to be spelt out, and the consequences for not following protocol have to be harsh for those in charge. Not for their sake but for the company’s. That’s a toxic situation in my opinion. Safety rules not for those exposed to danger, rather for their employers to avoid having to dole out billions in compensation. The dangers are still there, the recent NFL court case concerning head-trauma is probably the biggest example there, though the Piper Alpha disaster also needs consideration.
Before the oil platform blew up killing almost 200 people the sarcastic line among the roughnecks was “Safety before production, unless safety interferes with production”.

Words to learn from indeed.
Follow the rules boys and girls, unless they attend to fashion cos then I don’t think even they themselves have a clue.


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