Friday, September 12, 2008

The bigger picture

Hi. I'm nervous, but you can call me Scarlet.

That's obviously not my real name - my parents weren't that cool, but it'll do for the sake of this blog.

Alright. Here's the drill, although you've probably read this from the other guest bloggers. We have to write something about 80% and about where we live. So I got thinking about where I live, and basically, I got myself into a whole long-winded rant on where I live in the hope that it'd make me look a) funny and b) intelligent.

Epic fail.

At this point, I should probably explain that I live in Glastonbury, which is mostly known for the huge, anarchic (and recently over-hyped music festival) that takes place here every summer, as well as the ruins of the first Christian Abbey in the UK, the Chalice Well - where the Holy Grail is believed to have been washed (and possibly buried) and the Glastonbury Tor.

Glastonbury is an odd little town. It's been here for years and didn't really do very much of anything. Jesus' dad showed up for a visit and planted a tree a zillion years ago. We built an Abbey and then Henry VIII ripped it down and tortured the Abbot and monks to death. We built a church on top of a pagan worship site and an earthquake destroyed some of it.

Now it's called the Tor and people come from all over the place to look at it, sit at the summit, smoke illegal herbage and talk rubbish. Some other stuff happened too, but apparently nothing interesting enough to get a mention here.

But things really kicked off with the hippy revolution, when some bright spark decided that it was built on a place where a bunch of ley-lines crossed and the flower children moved in. Shops that had once sold groceries, sheepskins and clothes were sudden full of fertility crystals, hemp t-shirts and statues of the Goddess and Green Man.

The shops are called things like Gothic Image, The Cat and the Cauldron, The Psychic Piglet, Natural Earthling, Man, Myth and Magik, and Starchild. We have a Goddess Temple, a Tantric Sex Temple, Meditation Workshops and Healing sessions and weekend events on the Tao of Relationships and the Call of the Shaman.

It's populated by interchangeable women who wear purple velvet skirts and have alarming, long frizzy hair, henna'd to within an inch of it's life.

People talk earnestly about ley lines, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, transition towns. It believes
in UFOs, worships the Goddess and studies past-life regression. They all go by names like Kestrel, Xero, Galahad, Mystica and Ravensmile.

And (see, here's where I get to the 80% took me a little while, but..) as you might imagine these children of the sixties are not the best people to run businesses.

There's a local joke, that Glastonbury runs on GMT - Glastonbury Maybe Time - shops open when they feel like it, but usually around 10.30 - "Better late than grumpy" one shop has on it's sign thingy that shows opening hours.

They close when they feel like it, maaaan, because, you know. Being open is such a drag, you know? Really heavy.

I'm not entirely sure if Glastonbury is a place, or a state of mind, man. I expect people to cut corners here, it's part of what we are. All the normal people moved out of Glastonbury a long while ago, and left all us fluffy, floaty-headed hippies in charge.

So as a Glastonbury resident, does that mean that I cut corners in every day life? Undoubtedly yes - you just need to look at my washing up to see that. Unfortunately, I live with the worlds biggest perfectionist who frequently points out my handiwork - bits of old food that have somehow avoided the dishwashing process, crumbs that have defied the hoover - to point out my domestic failings.

My response is always the same - I sarcastically offer to inform the media, get NATO involved, call out the army - clearly these crumbs are a matter of a national security! Yes, I know there are people trying to blow up London, I know that we're facing a recession, I know that violence against women is rising five times faster than the national crime rate, but these are crumbs, dammit! On the carpet!

But there are other areas of my life where 100% is a given. In my job for starters, birthdays and Christmas, when it comes to spending money on my dearest and dearest. And, apparently when I'm trying to figure out what to write in someones blog - for some reason, since Blackpetero asked me to do this, I've found myself waking up at 3am and trying to think of something to write about.

I think it's OK to be 80%, to be honest, as long as you give 100% when it really matters. I guess all you have to do is figure out exactly when you need to give 100% and then you're well sorted.

And I guess it's why Glastonbury works - Mystica and Xero and all the rest of them might all have their collective hippy heads firmly up their bottoms, but they believe 100% in what they do, what they sell and what they talk about.

And so do the velvet-skirt, stick-wielding tourists who come to the town to take photos of the Tor and the ruined Abbey and buy up healing crystals and statues of the Goddess by the truckload - otherwise there's no way the place would work.
And as well as the weird shops, we're aiming to be a carbon neutral town, we promote healing, health, well-being, enlightenment and empathy. It's a town full of people who genuinely, 100 % believe that the world can be changed through Shakuhachi meditation, crystals and incense. And when there's incense to light, and sharing, ritual and transformation groups to channel energy and allow you to connect with the conscious universe, find your true, authentic self and search for the path of your heart, the odd hour here isn't all that important, when you look at the big picture.


It's hard to write about 'what's 80% about where I live', because honestly? 80% would be a step up for Glastonbury. Most days we're lucky if we can scrape 50%.  Hell, I'd give my right arm for 80%.

I suppose I could do something about it. Join some sort of community group, stand for town council, lobby the chamber of commerce, set up my own business and be a beacon of industry and business ethics that would force other shops to up their game. know. It kinda sounds like too much effort.


Elizabeth said...

If you want to lobby the Chamber of Commerce, we're holding an event at the George and Pilgrim on Wednesday 24th Sept at 6 pm - come along and let us know what we can do for you.

Quick bit of fact checking: most of the current shop owners aren't hippies. I've come out of the corporate sector, have a doctorate, and my partner is a former IT consultant. I'm also a successful novelist and we run a radio show. My partner (the big guy in Cat and Cauldron) is halfway through a history degree.

The notion that we're all sitting around smoking weed produces rather a hollow laugh from me. We may open at 10.30, but that's because it's not economically viable to open prior to that, given the time that visitors tend to get up! We're up around 7.30 most mornings, updating the website and spreadsheets, ordering stock, and revising the staff rota. Alas, Glastonbury's really rather similar to the rest of the world in that respect.

But I'm glad we manage to give an impression of being laid back! Meanwhile you and your readers are always welcome at Witchcraft Ltd, the Magick Box or the aforementioned Cat and Cauldron.

Liz Williams

John Deuel said...

Scarlet, you got an audible chuckle from me several times as I read, and a good laugh at the ending. Nice post.

Elizabeth, I visit a resort area in New Hampshire in the summers, and have investigated relocating there for a number of years. As a seasonal resident, I know a number of townies and local business owners. I can certainly empathize that while running a business in a leisure town can look leisurely, it is still a business.

Speaking of business, I have to get to work. Cheers all!

Elizabeth said...

John, I wish we could still retain that hippy ethos! But the VAT men don't relate well to tie-dye and beads...! As I say, however, at least we seem to be succeeding in making it look easy!

יובל דרורי said...

a) very nice and funny post
b) I think you missed a point that Peter was trying to convey:
In Israel, when we really do our best and try our hardest and bend over backwards, only then we get to about 79.80%.
Peter just rounded the percentage up because he in nice and because it sounds better. - ohh, this is a comment for this paragraph:

"I think it's OK to be 80%, to be honest, as long as you give 100% when it really matters. I guess all you have to do is figure out exactly when you need to give 100% and then you're well sorted."

Anonymous said...

Scarlet, you just made my life that much harder. How am I supposed to follow that? I think I may be chickened into giving 100% silence tomorrow.

I loved what you wrote.

Helene (REAL name - brave huh?)

Scarlet said...

Helene - you could try dribbling on the keyboard, that's pretty much what I did.

And I managed to not quite get the point and annoy a poor shopkeeper.

Actually, I have to say that despite my whining, the Cat and the Cauldron is a brilliant shop, I'm a big fan of poking around the Magik Box and I could easily spend half my wages in Starchild.

Marc said...

Actually (responding to Yuval's comment) I don't think that Peter was saying that no matter how hard Israelis try, they can't reach 100%. I read his original post (for the first time - decided to get my facts straight) and it seems to me that the man in Black is trying to say that Israel doesn't try to reach 100%, it just accepts mediocrity.

I can see that Israelis work blood hard. They have to in order to survive and in order to have the same living conditions as the rest of the Western world while living in a hostile country. In fact, Israeli can produce some very talented people. The problem here is that people have kind of given up trying to make Israel an excellent place and have more an attitude of each person for him/herself. The pioneers of this country have gone. The great leaders have gone. Israel is basically running in neutral, struggling and dreamless. I always tell my Israeli partner Stav - beware of the "Arse" - this being the local word for the commoners in Israel, a vulgar breed of people who would run over your grandmother without batting an eyelid. They represent the majority of Israel. Their vote rules this country.

If I read Scarlet correctly, she sounds pretty content in her neck of the woods. She doesn't need 100% in her life, probably because there are enough good things to make the nuisances of shop opening hours an issue. I guess it also helps having a perfectionist partner to fill in the gaps!!

I know Yuval. He's a 100% person - 100% dedication, 100% love, 100% patience. The main thing that he has to do, probably through his children, is to keep Israel dreaming of being a better place. I guess that is what blackpetero would want as well. I just wonder if his cynicism is correct - that the Jews just don't know what 100% is, that they are doomed to live hardship after hardship, exile after exile.

When I first announced that I was moving to Israel, an Israeli living in Switzerland and calling himself an ex-Israeli (let's face it, he was so frightened of the future of Israel that he married a Swiss in order to get a safer passport) said to me that the Jews need to suffer. By logical deduction, Israel can have no long lasting future. In the bible, Israel would enjoy 40 years of peace, only to be plummeted into another round of pillage and exile. If the Jews want to learn something about happiness, they have to do more than fight wars and struggle to survive until the day of reckoning, they have to dream, respect each other and strive for what blackpetero finds missing in this country - they have to believe in that final 20% that is actually the easiest 20% once you have reached 80%.

As for me, I'm still sitting on the bench. I don't think I want my child to grow up in Switzerland - it's a sleeping country that has little heart. And Israel is looking less and less attractive even though geologically this land is magic. So next year I off for a trip to that great southern land, Australia, my original homeland, the land whose people I find incredibly insensitive. Who knows, maybe I'll find a tranquil little sea faring town where I can forget about the woos of the world. Then again, try to convince an Israeli to leave her homeland and, well, you'll generally end up with the shorter end of the stick, unless that place is India. If Israelis could bring this 100% dedication to their families into the fabric of their country and their culture, then nothing could stop this little country from becoming the true multi-cultural mecca of the the Middle East.


Elizabeth said...

You haven't annoyed me and you are always welcome. Come and say hi!