Fair Reflections

The word ‘fair’ has been bouncing around in my head rather a lot lately, and more than ever this morning as I took the Puppy Stan around the block, which passes my late parent’s house.

I met a neighbour who was bemoaning the fact that the sun has gone ahide. For now, I’d be describing the day as fair.

Sunflower in the School Yard round our Block.
Sunflower in the School Yard

But, round the corner, by the school, I passed a woman pushing a very small boy in a buggy. Or, to be more precise, they had stopped and turned right round to watch a huge yellow machine, with all sorts of wide attachments, making its way slowly along the road. The little boy’s blue eyes were brighter than bright and his curly fair hair was billowing in the breeze.

Passing my parent’s house, I couldn’t but think of the way fair was always on Dad’s Richter Scale of how he was. You’d always have to look into his eyes to know if he was codding or not and he generally was!

Rotten –Fair – Good – Never Better

And what of that saying: Fair Sailing which was always the parting blessing of the distinguished Irish broadcaster, Tom MacSweeney on his maritime radio programme on RTE Radio 1, Seascapes. 

Fair is never far away from discussions of Life, Love and the Meaning of Happiness.’ How often do we hear: ‘It’s not fair …’ when someone dies young or when random trouble befalls people? I must say I don’t think that life owes us anything so this concept of fairness or unfairness tends to bug me a bit.

However, I have a very strong sense that that we should do all in our power to see that there is a fair distribution of wealth. I think this goes right back to my mother’s teachings around dividing treats, like cakes. She would ask one of us kids to divide the cake in five ~ one bit for each member of the family ~ and when she saw that one slice was bigger than the rest, she would always insist that that piece be given to someone other than the cutter! A lesson never, ever forgotten!

Fairs were very much a part of farming life back in the day and I associate them with haggling and farmers sealing deals with a spit and a handshake as well as long journeys home on foot with a few cows, sheep or even a horse or two in tow.

School reports are a place where Fair always rhymed with despair and basically meant ‘Jean is completely and utterly hopeless at sewing/music/dancing ….  but I think even she knows that. Pity but that’s the way it is.’

Fair is never a great sign either when it’s used at Nurse’s Stations in response to  enquiries about the well being of  loved ones. There have been times when I’ve hated the word with a passion and the dark look that goes with it.

But one can’t hate the word fair for long, especially if you live in Ireland.

That’s a fair nice dog you’ve got there.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

27 thoughts on “Fair Reflections”

    1. Hi Zyriacus, I think ‘fair’ is a lot of things and the ‘not good enough’ can be one aspect. I must say in the context of my school reports, they were quite right in suggesting that I was ‘not good enough’ to be a world class dancer or a clothes designer!
      However, ‘fair sailing’ is all about ease and I love fair hair ~ mine is black!

  1. Well, I think you’ve done a very fair treatment of “:fair” Jean. 😀 In English Canada the older generation used to use a slang term called “fair to middling” to indicate a “comme ci, comme ca” [literal translation “like this, like that”] – middle of the road, so,so situation. The “fair nice dog” example you used, is not commonly heard over here – not because our dogs aren’t handsome, Ha!

    Fun post Jean..

    1. Hi Paul, I love the ‘comme si, comme ca’ side of things.
      Oh we have a lot of ‘fair nice’ and ‘fierce kind’ types of sayings here. Adds to the spice of life.

  2. That’s a wonderful look at the numerous interpretations of the word “fair”, Jean, and has got me thinking. I have middling fair hair, which means grey encroaching on blonde territory.

  3. A very good summation of fair! She was lovely and fair as the Rose of the summer, and there’s none so fair as can compare …to the words that drop from your pen! Thanks!

  4. I guess it from what side you’re looking at the word “fair”..it can be positive or negative. All’s fair in Love and War..is a saying..but who is the winner..The winner can end up being the loser for what had to be given up in order to win…be it lives, moral character ..sometimes being too honest can hurt you so I guess you have to find the middle of the road at what works best for you. The dictionary has many meanings of the word “fair”..1. Pleasing in appearance 2. not stormy or cloudy 3. just or honest 4. conforming with the rules 5. open to legitimate pursuit or attack 6. light in color 7. adequate..so you take your pick..Is life always fair..my answer is no but that is what makes a persons’ character…

    1. Great comment, Joni.
      Yes, ‘fair’ is full of complexity.
      I’ll have to think about ‘life not being fair’ being character building. I’ve certainly known cases where it has been the cause of devastation ~ ultimate devastation.

  5. Another thought-provoking, yet thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable essay! “Life isn’t fair” was always the response I got when I complained that something was not fair. And as to cutting the shares, the rule in our family was one cuts (or pours, or slices, or whatever to be shared called for) and the other got to pick first.

    1. Many thanks, Suz. No, I don’t think life is about ‘fair,’ in the broadest sense.
      Sounds like the shares principle was pretty much the same in both our houses.

  6. I agree with Suzassippi ^^ and always consider it a life lesson to point out to a young person who complains or grumbles that ‘life isn’t fair’ so get over it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: