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on personal preferences

I’ve touched on this before in the sense of how silly things have become in modern life. We all like and dislike things with no real malice; we just like some things and don’t like others, but this prejudice and, these days, we aren’t allowed such luxuries.

Regulation and legislation apply to some aspects, but if, for example, I was to make the decision that I would not read anything written by a woman or someone not British. Who would know, or perhaps care? I could be as prejudiced as I like with complete impunity; with no consequence other than that I would be denying myself some good reading.

We are human and it is in our nature to have preferences: Food, reading, music, colours, styles and all sorts of things. I can’t recall eating an enjoyable Chinese meal in the UK, but I have worked in China a couple of times and have loved the food there. Indian food; my best and worst meals have been in Indian restaurants, the latter in several locations and the former at Benares in Mayfair which is still the best meal that I have eaten anywhere. I have had an enjoyable lunch today with the Berkshire Belle in an Indian restaurant and we have a table booked in another for lunch on Thursday. I also cook Indian food regularly, but if you asked me what I would like to eat an Indian meal would be well down the list. We humans are complex characters. I like other things better.

They say that opposites attract, although the Hastings Hottie and I were attracted to each other by the things we shared an interest in. We have been together for a long time, but we don’t have the same liking for everything. There is enough of an overlap to have kept us together, but maybe the differences make our lives interesting. Books are one of the things that brought us together. We both love reading, but even here our tastes vary because such things are so personal.

Tastes change too. I used to enjoy football, rugby and cricket, but these sports, at the professional level, have drifted away from me and I rarely pay any attention to either. I used to love motor sport too, but it is something else that, in search of a modern audience, has lost me. In 2012 I was hospitalised with a serious illness that nearly did for me, but I joked that I had caught it on purpose so that the 6 weeks that I spent in hospital allowed me to miss all of the hullabaloo around the London Olympics. I was only half joking…

One of the daft aspects of the cancel culture is people not being willing to accept that not all of us like the same things. Since my mid-teens I have been aware of the world working towards a more tolerant society and yet as we get towards a point where we should have achieved a decent level of inclusivity, we have been introducing legislation that actually discourages it. Orwell’s 1984 got here, just a bit late.

I have no problem with people liking different things to me. Life would be very boring if we all liked the same things and agreed with each other on every topic. Critical thinking requires debate and a consideration of differing arguments. Tolerance requires an acceptance of opposing views, even if they are abhorrent to us. Who is right and who is wrong? What is truth? They say that numbers can’t lie, but they can certainly mislead. A photograph used to be something to be relied on, but not any more.

We believe what we want to believe and we do that in accordance with our preferences. It was ever thus and always will be. Efforts to change that aspect of human nature are futile, but if we shut out other people’s viewpoints we can only stagnate as individuals and as a race. There is a huge gulf between “I prefer not to” and “I’m not going to”. I may prefer not to, but it doesn’t preclude me trying whatever the subject is. The danger today is that there is a move to take away our choice to do what we prefer to do, or to not do.

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