Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beans up your nose

Someone delivered a desk to us yesterday. (No, this is not going to be about how the no. 2 domestic computer starts off being just a PC and finishes up as an installation more powerful than that of Delta Airlines.) I want to finish the month on a cheerful note. It has been sunny all day – 18 celsius – probably hundreds in American money: we had lunch on the terrace and the Cote really was azure.
Sorry - the desk: like I said, someone delivered a desk. We said it should take them an hour to get to our place, but it took them four. It highlighted an inexplicable psychological truth: that if, when giving directions, you tell people what NOT to do, they will do it. On the way to our house from the motorway is a sign saying clearly the name of our town, but if you ignore it and take the next exit, you will get to us in a fraction of the time. But whatever we say, and despite all the sophisticated in-car GPS systems and on-line mapping in the world, people take the first one.
This phenomenon is known in our family as ‘beans up your nose’. (Origin: you would never dream of leaving a child alone with a bag of beans, and saying, as you leave the room, ‘Now don’t you go putting those beans up your nose’.) It’s so obvious it should not need saying, but how many times have you ever heard a salesman say ‘you’ll find this a much faster/quieter/easier to use gismo than that of X’, (naming his most feared competitor)? So who do you check out next?

In the French Savoy Alps, in a roadside wood near Chamonix, the passing motorist will see a large sign nailed to a tree. It reads, in French, ‘Do not pick the snails’.

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