Wednesday 10 October 2012

Out of Order

From a young age we are taught to do so much with an orderly approach. For obvious reasons we are taught that pants must be put on before trousers (something Superman's parents clearly forgot to mention) and the alphabet must be learnt before we can read. But standard order ends in these early years. Everyone thinks that the way they do things is the correct and most effective way of going about life, of course they do or else another method would be sought, yet rarely does it happen that two people do the same thing in exactly the same manner. Even after being told precisely how to do it, techniques differ; slightly infuriating at the best of times.

Let's keep things very British and take making a cup of tea as an example. Everyone knows that a standard cup of tea consists of a tea bag (you use tea leaves do you? Tough, I don't), boiling water and milk. Yet what do you do first? Boil the kettle? Place the teabag in the mug? And then what? I personally boil the kettle, teabag the mug, pour boiling water into said mug, leave for 30 seconds or so, prod it around with a spoon, dispose of the teabag and add milk. So many people add the milk with the tea bag still bobbing around; fine, I guess, if you like splashing milky tea over your foot on extraction. I just don't. Some people, more disconcertingly put the milk in first before adding water...the mind boggles. Edwardian ladies would test their hostess's willingness to provide them with their finest bone china upon their afternoon visits by watering their cup first; bone china wouldn't crack when boiling water was poured into it, whereas the cheap stuff would, and obviously if milk was already in the teacup it would cool the water down on contact.

But enough of tea. This trivial instance merely highlights the lack of consistency within order, and illustrates that as times change, so does the accepted way of doing things. There was a time, less than a century ago, when young girls who'd had a little too much fun with the soldiers (or any other male for that matter), would be scurried away to homes in which they would have their babies and then returned to society after they had recovered from their 'illness'. How many unmarried girls do you know with babies? Unmarried mothers are now completely accepted by virtually all of society, totally usurping the idea that 'first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage'. Not even a murmur of the once tabooed s-word. The order of proceedings has been turned utterly on its head. But does it work? In the 1930s, the marriage rate was higher yet divorces were rarely heard of, let alone carried out with fewer than 10,000  marriages in 1930 legally breaking up. Compare this to 2010, a good year for family lawyers, with 119 589 divorces (Office of National Statistics). Is the reason for this simply because it has become more socially acceptable to walk away from a spouse or has it been a necessary change due to young couples doing things in 'the wrong order'?

It is pretty much a given now that people have sex before they are married, but, and I don't wish to sound like my Grandmother, maybe this trend has a lot to answer for. Perhaps it would be a good idea to revert to old-fashioned principles and actually get to know someone, I mean really know them, before jumping into bed with them, thus encouraging the confusion between lust and love. I might even give it a try. Maybe.

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