One of the many things that makes an extended tour in Paris so interesting and rewarding, for me, is a byproduct of my lack of ability to speak French.
Not being able to speak the language, by the way, is in my estimation, an appalling shortcoming among my many shortcomings; so don’t interpret that first sentence as being some lame attempt to make a virtue out of a weakness.
But that sentence stands.
It stands because it is truth. The truth is not that not speaking French can be a good thing. The truth is that having no clue of what is going on in the world can have immense advantages. And, when I turn on some of the French news channels, no clue is what I get. Oh, there is the occasional “même chose” or “exactement” and all the other little easy to hear children of those few phrases that I have in my vocabulary. But knowing what anybody is saying about anything - presumably the state of the world at the point at which I see them uttering whatever it is that they are uttering - is absolutely denied to me.
And that is the beauty of it.
I have absolutely no idea of what is going on in the world, and, I believe, both the world, and I, are better off due to that gaping chasm of lack of knowing.
Let’s be honest though.
I obviously have a computer, so I could just plug into – something, god knows what – and keep up to date with – everything.
But trust me; I don’t do that.
As evidence of my lack of netcitizenery please consider the following fact.
I haven’t signed on to Twitter for such a long time that I keep expecting to be cast into the outer darkness by a rapidly fleeting winged creature diving at me from above and twittering as it recedes into the inky darkness shrieking “be gone from the fold, thou foul and voiceless creature”.
But I do have three English channels, Sky News from Britain and CNN and CNBC. CNBC is the only one that is worth watching – although I do enjoy the blow by blow accounts of the various losses throughout the former British Empire that seem to keep being experienced by some British cricket team or other, so I do tune in Sky every now and then, mostly on weekends, when CNBC is dormant – so I can’t claim the total lack of knowledge of the world and its events and issues that my preceding statements would cause one to surmise to be the case. I do occasionally get some English input.
But I do manage to come pretty close to not knowing anything about anything. (I hear a chorus of voices saying “so what’s new about that?”)
I don’t turn on CNBC very often. And CNBC, almost never, features commentators or guests who are talking about “news” in the generic sense of the word. They are almost always talking “business”. (Jim Cramer’s ravings may cause one to question even that assertion, but in general it seems to be true.)
One of the benefits of this state of affairs is that once in a great while I am absolutely flabbergastedly surprised.
It happened – maybe – Friday; time is a blur any more and I seldom take much note of the day in which anything, even anything of significance, occurs.
What I know was that I was watching Squawk Box while I made the bed. I make the bed every morning and fold my pajamas in this particular manner and put them, after the pillows have been arranged in just the way they need to be arranged, to make anyone who had to break into this place in the event that I were to be spirited off during the day by Hamas terrorists, believe that I had been a genuinely squared-away sort of chap – a more complicated version of your mother’s demand that you always have on clean underwear to make her look to be a good mother in the event that you might be run over by a car while you were out.
Not Faulknerian, but close.
Anyway, back to the point – there was one, wasn’t there?
I think it was Erin who – in one of those rare CNBC “news” rather than “business” moments - said something about the Senate (or was it the House?) passing a bill and sending it to the president for signature. It was a bill, to become –soon – law, to do away with “don’t ask don’t tell”. When signed into law it would let gays be real citizens and be in the military, and be open in their sexual proclivities, just like their heterosexual compatriots.
“What the …? ” I said
Maybe this gridlock deal is a good thing after all.