Mind The Gap! · The Secret Of Systems

Folding Bikes and Bent Rules.

The Secret Of Systems, Part 12

I wheel my folding bicycle onto a Dutch train. This is strictly against the regulations, but it is tolerated as it makes boarding much faster.

So here is my folding bicycle, on the local train that will take me home. Bicycles that fold up travel free on the Dutch railways, if you have an ordinary bicycle, you have to buy a day ticket that costs €7. Now, according to the rule book, a bicycle has to be folded before you enter the train. As you can see, my bike is still unfolded – and will only be ‘broken’ in the middle for the swift journey home.

Those who ride the posher Brompton folding bicycles, have an unwritten code that tells them to fold their bikes into that neat little package that they collapse into. Rules are rules, after all.

Rules are rules as long as they are applied. Mind you, if you’re a bank, you and your friends will have the power to ask the president of the United States to relax those rules. But relaxing rules in this way is never a good thing to do, especially with people who habitually break the few that exist.

And bend anything else.

My bicycle isn’t even completely folded – as is demanded by the German railways.
You can get away with quite a lot in Holland…

So, wheeling my bicycle onto a train is small stuff by comparison. Mind you, it was only after nine years of travelling on the Dutch Railways that I even discovered the rule that said that I shouldn’t! That’s how well it was observed.

It all goes to show that if you are going to make a rule, you ought see that it is observed. Systems are, if nothing else, bundles of rules; a regulatory body, as it were. The better systems have more to do with reality, the poor ones, have less – they are more abstracted from reality.

One of the real problems here is that too few people realize that they are even in a system at all. The system isn’t going to sit up and beg for you: life doesn’t work that way. Put better, the results of human consciousness do not work that way.

Either you are aware of a system or you are oblivious to it, and in all likelihood will remain so. This brings problems for authors like me, because when I was researching the regulations of the Metropolitan Police in the 1890s, I asked a few questions.

Not that any of the forums dealing with the time were interested in the details of police regulations. They were more interested in the fancies and fictions of what made Jack the Ripper commit his murders. Which is the other side of the story: regulations are boring. Systems are inherently boring. In being boring, the needs of an active mind are drawn away from them, rather than steered towards them. It takes mental effort to deal with a system, and in our day and age, most people tend towards entertainment rather than exertion. Hence the fascination with Jack the Ripper and what motivated the various suspects to commit their crimes!

A Brompton bicycle that is completely folded.
Brompton owners are just a little anal in their approach to the world.
But then, they’d not be able to afford a Brompton otherwise, would they?

The end result of my commenting on that forum was that a sole member of one of the forum suggested I buy his book, the Police Code of 1880 by Robert Anderson. He was the chief of the Metropolitan police in London at the time. Then I would know all about how they behaved. I already had a copy of the 1898 Police Code, and its intricacies taught me little.

Add to this the fact that Anderson himself openly admitted to bending the rules, and you’ll begin to get the picture.

The problem for me was which ones did he allow to be bent, and which not. And of course, those who want to sell their books aren’t going to start telling me that half of the regulations their books contains were overwritten by the forces of reality. But then, it’s hardly likely that the rule-following intellectual would ever think of breaking the rules imposed on them from on high. Ergo: why would anybody else want to? Such thinking is common in places like Brussels… and is one reason why it was chosen as the seat of Europe’s primary law breakers, the European Union.

Other books about policing, including Anderson’s own autobiography give a glimpse of how the systems were bent to the needs of the time – but also gave me a few neat little stories of the kind of goings on that are unimaginable in our day and age. The game of ‘Haystacks’ in Whitehall was one such. But you’ll have to read one of my books if you want to know what this was all about!

he Secret Of Systems, Links To Other Parts In This Series:

Part 1: How Can Lidl Be So Cheap?

Part 2: All Hard Drives Look Alike.

Part 3: A Different View Of Karma. (Published Privately).

Part 4: The Value Of Money.

Part 5: Google’s Panda Algorithm. (Technical)

Part 6: Thomas Hardy And Friedrich Nietzsche. (Published Privately).

Part 7: That’s Not Fair Play!

Part 8: Confessions Of A Lapsed Adwords Jockey.

Part 9: When The System Bites Back.

Part 10: I Admit It: I Made A Mistake.

Part 11: Live Wires.

Part 12: Folding Bicycles and Bent Rules.

Please note that privately published posts are available to trusted friends without cost. The content is not intended for the general public and is restricted to those who can demonstrate that they understand the nature – and implications of – Rudolf Steiner’s scientific thinking. That is to say, a practical understanding of thinking, feeling and willing.

It is not for the unready (see my post entitled Live Wires).

In certain circumstances, pdfs of these private posts are available on request; you may do so by leaving a comment. This will tell me if you can grasp the nature of the post you are enquiring about. The comment itself can be left unmoderated or deleted if requested.


2 thoughts on “Folding Bikes and Bent Rules.

  1. I know nothing about policing in the 1880’s although I do recall in the 1980’s it was said that the Met Police refered to their Country Cousins as “Wooden tops”.The riposte from said coutry cousins was to refer to Met Police as bananas because they were yellow, bent and always went round in a bunch…. Ouch!


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