When I was ten a teacher we had used to say to boys who made a mistake in a sum have you cotton wool between your ears? Years later, I said to a college lecturer friend of mine, you can’t say that to eighteen year olds. But you would feel like saying it, he said.
That teacher never said that to me, except once. He wanted me to play the pretend-to-be-stupid game, and I wasn’t playing. You’re stupid if you’re not stupid. He was standing behind my desk. He said those words, have you cotton wool between your ears, possibly to himself and moved away, I was a lost cause.
There was no looney bin attached to our school, but there could have been. They were teaching us to pretend to be stupid so we could get jobs in the civil service, where they pretend to be stupid all the time.
I asked a friend at school at the same time, did he remember teachers saying do well at Irish and you can get a job in the civil service. He did. He laughed. I told my mother what the teacher said when I went home. She thought a job in the civil service would be quite good. I was twelve or eleven years old at the time, I thought a job in the civil service would be the most boring job imaginable. You were right, my friend said.
I may be running out of steam in this article, what else is there to say about cotton wool, which, as you know is the theme of this article. In Britain when the national health service started all sorts of things were free. People used free cotton wool to stuff pillows. I didn’t know people would be so greedy, someone said. If you give people things for nothing they waste them. That’s the nature of the beast, said a Protestant. How do I know he was a Protestant? Because he told me, why I don’t know.
Is that enough about cotton wool? There is a type of limpet in the South Seas which, when it is born, swims around to find a suitable rock to lock on to for life, then eats its brain because it doesn’t need it anymore. Some people stop thinking when they leave school. Before then said my lecturer friend.
Do a person’s thinking for them and they love you, make them think and they hate you. Its not cool to study. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I quoted that quotation to a hotelier, a cliché he said. Are the ten commandments cliches, I asked? Probably, he said. I asked his son, who had a mangerial position in the hotel, do you agree with nepotism? He thought for a moment. When its deserved, he said.
There is an oversupply of cotton wool in this country, but lets not be discriminatory, everywhere. Truth is an illusion someone said. If it is the truth that truth is an illusion then there is truth, truth is not an illusion. So there. T.S. Eliot said the truth is what is most hated. Ask whistleblowers. You get shot for speaking the truth, many are. Or locked up, ignored, passed over for promotion, you name it. That’s why people don’t do it. Its not the done thing.
T.S. Eliot is or was only a poet, so what would he know? So am I a poet, but I prefer to say I write rhymes because so much rubbish is passed off as and considered poetry today. I write rhymes, rhymes for all time. But no one notices. Why should they? A poem has been said to encapsulate a truth, see above, the truth is what is most hated. Not popular today, at all, at all.
That there is no such thing as truth is not my position. If there was no such thing as truth then there would be nothing. Quite obviously that is not the case. Open your eyes. And ears. What do you see and hear? Mostly rubbish, yes, but not nothing. The truth is, but is everywhere denied. But not by absolutely all. Not by me, yours truly. Nor am I absolutely alone in my belief. Thank God. If there is one. God is truth, truth is God. Is truth, God, a being, an entity, a person or a quality? Think for yourself. God, your God, is what you put first, money, sex, truth, whatever. Stamp collecting. Yes. Or trivial pursuit.
Get the wool out of your ears. Have you cotton wool between your ears? Thus spake Zarathustra. Whoever he was. Or is. God is dead, Nietzsche. Nietzsche is dead, God.
I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler, I’m a long way from home.
14th December, 2016