Miles Kington: Opposite options... some more advice for the confused

Is global warming a good or bad thing? And are men really incapable of doing two things at the same time?
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The Independent Online

It's time once again for my ground-breaking advice column, Opposite Options, which offers two contradictory bits of advice for every single problem.

As one reader wrote to me after the last column: "Most advice services just tell you what to do. There's no room for manoeuvre. But yours, by giving you a choice of advice, lets you choose the one you need! That's good. Or do I mean that it lets you choose the one you want? And therefore gives you the easy way out? I'm not sure. What do you think?"

Well said! So here goes with another set of opposite options...

Is global warming a good or a bad thing?

A. Bad, of course. It's rather like being in a car where the brakes are failing and the driver is asking the passengers if they think the brakes should be mended or not. For God's sake, we're going to crash! Stop now!

B. Good. Because global warming has the seeds of its own solution in it. You see, the warmer it gets, the less we are going to need fossil fuels for heating. And the less anyone will want to go abroad, because their own country will now be warm enough for holidays! So air traffic will go right down, heating will go right down, fuel consumption will go right down and global warming will be reversed by its own effects!

Are men really incapable of doing two things at the same time?

A. Yes. Only the other day, in a motorway service area, I saw a man come out of the Ladies while talking on a mobile. He was saying into his phone: "Blimey! I went in the wrong one!" He was clearly incapable of talking and going to the lavatory at the same time. All men are like this unless they try very hard.

B. Let's put it the other way round. Women are undoubtedly good at multi-tasking, a word they have taken over for themselves, but are any of them any good at doing ONE thing at a time? I think not. Concentrated, focused thinking on a single task is beyond most women, who would much prefer to be flitting from one thing to another, such as compiling shopping lists while driving, planning the diary while cooking, rethinking their wardrobe while making love and so on. No wonder there are so few great female chefs, composers, painters, architects and so on. Women are not capable of solo-tasking, ONLY of multi-tasking.

I notice you used the word "lavatory" just then. Is that just a posh word for "toilet"? Is this another insidious instance of British class warfare?

A. Yes. Sorry. My mother always said that "toilet" was vulgar, and that "lavatory" was the only word to use, and I was programmed to use it early on, and can't shake it off. She never adjudicated on the word "loo", though I think she would have approved of this middle class term, at least until the working class adopted it.

B. Not at all. Quite apart from the fact that lavatory really means a place where you wash yourself, "lavatory" has been part of proletarian talk for ever. That's why "lav" and "lavvy" are such common demotic terms. There is no abbreviation for toilet, is there?

The Sun last week had a headline that said: "Missing! John Reid's Brain!" and showed a photo of John Reid with a hole in his head. Is journalism like this ever justified?

A. No. It is yob culture taking over the media. It's chavs in charge. It's like mistaking a sink estate for a think estate. It's not knowing the difference between headlines and graffiti...

B. Yes. It is in the glorious tradition of knockabout British comedy, just like in the new exhibition of Hogarth. Hogarth focused on the drunk, the deformed, the tasteless and the raddled, and - because it's 250 years ago - we say it is glorious satire and honest realism. But the sort of people who praise Hogarth for his honesty and love Rowlandson and Gillray's vulgar caricatures, shrink from it when it's on the front page of The Sun! Well, so much the worse for them.

More Opposite Options coming soon!