I was watching a re-run of a World At War episode on the TV the other day in the company of my brother. There was a heck of a lot of archive footage of troops saluting which prompted my brother to ask why soldiers do that.
We have deep, intellectual discussions like this quite a lot.
I had no answer but, as often happens, I Googled it (when did Googling become a verb?) in a bid to find out.
The answers are inconclusive.
It is thought to date back to the Roman legions but no full explanation for the hand movement was given. One theory that struck me as plausible was that centuries later knights in armour would raise their visors to show they were friends not foes. Another was to suggest that soldiers used to lift their headgear to acknowledge officers but, when chinstraps came in, the hand motion continued but the hats were no longer physically raised.
There, I bet you feel much better for knowing that, don’t you?
While still on this trivial pursuit I looked up why Westerners shake hands (as opposed to the Thai nicety of performing a Wai) and why do we use the right hand and not the left? Seems that it might have been to demonstrate that you were not holding a weapon in your sword-drawing right hand (scabbards were worn on the left hip). In other words, you came in friendship.
Picking up these gems of information left me wondering how I ever survived before the Internet. It also made me realise how much time I waste surfing aimlessly around the net and hopping from one subject to another.
Do you do that…start looking up a current news story and end up viewing the 50 pictures that shocked the world or the 12 cute child stars who turned into plies of blubber?
Some call this ‘surfing” but I would describe it as curing boredom. Or attempting to, at least.
The net is responsible for many changes in how we live. Some are for the good, others not so.
Among the ‘not so” is that it has helped turn everyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone into a seeker of instant gratification. ‘I want it and I want it now”. Thailand is yet to fully sign up to the idea of ordering goods on the net for next day delivery but it’s coming, believe me.
Yes when it comes to delivery to your door the UK is way ahead of the Thais but not all retail comparisons are favorable.
For example, I attempted to buy a settee a little while back wearing my ‘I want it now” hat. I needed it urgently as I had moved into an unfurnished apartment and quite literally had nowhere to sit, other than on the side of the bed. ‘Could I order this sofa please?” I asked several times. Invariably the reply was along the lines of ‘Yes, provided you don’t mind waiting two-three months for it.”
When I replied that I needed it straight away shop assistants would look at me as if I had taken leave of my senses or broken wind. How could I possibly expect the item to be available now?
‘What about the one on the sales floor?” I would ask, ‘Oh, we can’t let you have that. We wouldn’t be able to sell any more if you take that one.” How many people decide three months in advance that they want a new settee I mused to myself?
How I wished for furniture sales, Thai-style. I can remember buying a bed once and the guys loaded it up onto a lorry and followed me home to carry it in. Now that was service!
The Brits may have thousands of vans on the road each day delivering everything from tool kits on Amazon to cucumbers from Tesco’s but the idea of making enough furniture so a store could actually stock items and deliver them within days, not months, seems some way off.
Give me the Thai ‘if you see it, like it and pay for it we’ll be round tomorrow” method any day.
So this article is all a bit like the web I reckon. I started out with one ‘story” about saluting but allowed myself to be sidetracked into moaning about UK furniture. Is it really that different to looking up a story about Brexit and ending up seeing what Wonder Women Lynda Carter looks like now. Not bad, is the answer, in case you were wondering.
I viewed Lynda’s looks on a website called Top Rated Viral. At a quick glance I thought it said Top Rate Drivel. Maybe I read it right first time.
By Dave Buckley