Simon Carr: A cut-out-and-keep guide to modern life

Young men don't get the guidance they need any more. You can't tell them the truth, obviously, but you can give them this cut-out- and-keep selection of life's less obvious realities.
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The Independent Online

1. How old are you? 25? 26? If you look carefully you can see 40 coming up, from under the horizon. It's always later than you think.

2. Barring accidents of health, you will end up with very much what you deserve in life.

3. Wisdom on the back of a matchbox: An act forms a habit, a habit forms a character, a character forms a destiny. (Be careful what you do, and who you sleep with.)

4. Repeat after me: "That's interesting, I've never thought of it like that before." If you can't say these words once a day, you're dying on your feet.

5. It's not what you earn it's what you save that makes you rich. They don't teach compound interest in schools any more so no one believes this.

6. If someone is rude to you, the question to ask is: What did I do to make them be like that? Sometimes it isn't your fault at all. That's very rarely the case, however.

7. Your teachers and parents have told you that you can do anything in life. They were lying.

8. Don't worry too much about what other people think.

9. It's a rule that people accuse their enemies of their own most obvious fault. Married life will teach you this.

10. Don't snatch at it. Let the ball come to you. That applies to much else as well.

11. When people have to carry a variety of things from one place to another they do it wrong. They try to carry as much as possible in the first trip - and then on the second trip carry just one or two items.

Estimate how many trips the load will take and then split it into the appropriate number of loads. This advice will come in handy every week of your life.

12. If you are going to make your bed, do it in the morning. That way you have the pleasure of a made bed all day. If you make it just before you get in, you've had the bother of making it and none of the pleasure of looking at it.

13. The perfectly good alternative is not to make it at all.

14. Be careful of literature: The road of excess doesn't necessarily lead to the palace of wisdom. It very often leads to poverty, misery and multiple divorces.

15. Divorce is the single most expensive thing you'll ever do. Many men never recover.

16. Never borrow to buy a depreciating asset.

17. "The opposite of talking isn't listening. It's waiting." Don't be like that.

18. You can't make anyone do anything they don't want to. This rule isn't true, but you should proceed as though it is.

19. Don't live in an all-girl flat. They practise on each other the techniques they're going to use on their husbands.

20. You need to work hard when you're young because you don't know anything. Things get easier, but keep the habit of hard work. You'll be dead soon enough, so you might as well do as much as you can.

21. Your father loves you more than you know or is able to express. But he is also jealous of you, and your youthful certainties annoy him. You'll both grow out of it.

Why we lack a certain je ne sais quoi

There was a moment in that documentary about the death of Princess Diana (she died in a car accident is everything we need to know) that made me sit up. The Prefect of Paris accompanied the ambulance to the hospital and declared with great élan: "I am requisitioning this hospital!"

Imagine Ken Livingstone marching into Charing Cross Hospital, west London, ahead of the ambulance carrying the mortal remains of President Chirac, crying: "I am requisitioning this hospital!" Not even the receptionist would take him seriously. The cleaners would laugh at him. The registrar would tell him to go home.

But then, Ken Livingstone wouldn't say he was requisitioning the hospital. It's not in his nature, it's not in the culture. How resiliently themselves, they are, the French, as the centuries go by.

* Here are some poorly named websites. You may doubt their existence, but I've looked at them. Of course, your mind may so pure you see nothing odd in them.

The nature of celebrity is neatly expressed in whorepresents.com. It's a directory of agents and lists who represents whom. Penisland.net: is that one of those Caribbean destinations we've heard about? No, it's a site selling pens.

Molestationnursery.com plays into the hands of those motherhood mobs who demonstrate outside pediatricians' houses. The site presents a company that grows plants in Mole Station. Therapistfinder.com will find you a therapist, and expertsexchange.net is of no practical use to transgendering patients. If you have the right password you can get into Powergenitalia.com - but you won't find any powerful genitals (it's an Italian electricity firm). And dollarsexchange.com is a currency trading site.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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