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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Living Well, Indoors and Outdoors

Living well is about many things, of which I am going to mention only a few, and it is about indoors and outdoors. Chances are, if you don’t know how to live well indoors you won’t know how to do it outdoors and vice versa.

Living well indoors is about many things. A bit at random: Opening the windows to let in fresh air. Changing bedclothes regularly. Keeping up with cleaning surfaces and vacuuming carpets (or paying someone to do it for you). Picking things up and putting them away. Binning and bagging and taking out the bags to the bin (and making sure the lid on the bin is kept shut to keep out the landgulls and pigeons, the foxes and  rats). 

In other words, it’s about self-organisation and about treating your immediate environment as worthy of attention, just as you treat yourself as worthy of attention when you shower and dress in clean clothes.

Living well outdoors is about not fouling public spaces which you share with others. It’s about not dropping litter and not treating pavements and parks as dog lavatories. It’s about not making lots of noise except in places designed for lots of noise. It’s about getting your car serviced regularly so that it doesn’t belch more fumes than it has to. It’s about not smoking in shop doorways or bus shelters – and, ideally, not smoking in public at all.  Basically, it’s about not making places unpleasant for other people.

You may not think of what you are doing as unpleasant but it is, just as your indoors may satisfy you but makes other people feel they will catch something if they so much as sit down or makes them feel sick from the stench: occupational hazards for workers in the emergency services and social services who are exposed to close encounters with those living failing and chaotic lives.

I had these thoughts this morning, idly browsing through the online responses to a piece in The Guardian about an outdoor smoking ban. I just felt: here are hundreds of people who don’t know how to live well, outdoors or indoors. I could imagine their smell.

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