Surrey Rant

The secret of training horses or dogs or anything, I suppose, is to always end on a high note. If the horse is getting cranky, you have to retreat to a place they feel comfortable and let them finish the exercise correctly. Then you heap on the praise. The theory is they remember the training session positively instead of something unpleasant.

With that in mind, you get to listen to a rant about Surrey today. In every respect but one, this was the ideal conference. I cannot say enough good things about it or recommend it highly enough aside from this one thorn.

The thorn, as you might have guessed, is politics.

Here’s my theory. If I go to a concert, I am paying to be entertained. If you, the singer, break out in a political rant mid-concert, I am going to get up and walk out. I paid you to sing, not tell me how to vote. It’s great you have an opinion, but unless you have some kind of experience governing or some pertinent degree, what you think is just one person’s opinion. Because you can sing, doesn’t make you a political expert and I resent the fire out of you using your star status to impose your opinions on me when I have paid you to sing. “Just the song, ma’am,” as Sergeant Friday might say.

One of the keynote speakers interjected his opinions in his opening speech at Surrey. “John Kennedy was the last decent president you Americans elected and I hope you will make the right decision this time.” Apparently, we Americans have made wrong decisions for forty years, but he did let us know we had an opportunity to correct all our misdeeds.

Um, yeah. I don’t tell you how to vote or voice my opinion about your leaders, please give me the same respect.

How I vote is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. If you feel so strongly about how Americans should vote, move to the US, go through the process and vote.

Needless to say, I got up and walked out, missing the program that came later, which I hated. I did enjoy some pleasant company in the bar, though and they didn’t feel the need to tell me how to vote.

Then comes the second and even greater road bump. One of the presenters was busy passing out Bye Bye Bush bumper stickers with every purchase of one of her books. I’m sure she also gave them away to anyone who wanted one.

Excuse me, let me look at the brochure again. Political rally? No, pretty sure I’m supposed to be at a writer’s conference. Once again, I respect your opinion, but this is the wrong place to be expressing it.

I asked someone if this was really appropriate and was told it’s all in good fun. All right, so if I bring my political paraphernalia of the opposite and much less popular opinion, no one is going to get offended, right?
Doubtful. I’m going to venture a guess complaints would be lodged immediately.

All right, at least she is being fairly non-obnoxious even though this is a writer’s conference and not a political campaign booth.

Saturday night arrives and she is prancing around with her Bye Bye Bush tee-shirt and a cap with dreadlocks. What the heck? Now she makes the rounds, sticking her chest out so everyone can see her witty tee-shirt, tossing her dreadlocks so everyone knows who she is supporting and grinning from ear-to-ear.

She looked like a ten-year-old walking into a room with several important guests and twirling a condom on his finger to see if anyone noticed how naughty he was being.

Frankly, this would be like someone walking in with a dimestore war bonnet, war paint and whooping to show their support for Native Americans. We really ought to be past the stereotypes. When did black people get reduced to their hair?

I asked about this later and was told it was all in good fun. So, when I show up next year with an afro, passing out impeach Obama stickers, I trust everyone will realize it’s all in good fun.

And, before you chalk this all up to me being a rabid Republican, I’m not. I’m an Independent with strong Libertarian leanings.

We were told to leave perfume at home. I would also suggest speakers, presenters and others also leave their politics at home. This isn’t the place for it. If you want to discuss politics with friends, that’s great. Espousing them to someone who paid to learn more about writing isn’t the place. While you may think you are the only one with all the answers, there’s a chance someone else might also feel their opinions are of value.

I wasn’t the only one who was offended by the antics, but I’m probably one of the few who bothered to say anything about it.

I promise the last two Surrey posts will be positive.


  1. I completely agree with you. That woman who walked around in dreadlocks annoyed me too – leave that stuff at home.

    As to perfume – I wore it, but if anyone had complained, I would have done what I could to remove it and not worn it again.

  2. Tara, needless to say, I changed my schedule so I wouldn’t be taking her class.

    I almost got up and asked her if she had any idea how offensive that stereotype was, but I decided to keep my mouth shut and just leave asap so I didn’t have to be around her.

    Hopefully, people will exercise some common courtesy and leave the politics home next time.

    Re the perfume. I thought it was kind of a silly suggestion until one of the agent in the Idol workshop said how allergic she was and people who had smoked just before the pitch session or had on strong cologne upset her physically to the point she had to scoot as far away from them as she could. She said a man particularly had on very strong cologne. Sadly, she probably remembered her discomfort far more than his book.

    I stuck to wearing the mandarin and mint lotion and left my perfume in the bag.

    I never noticed your perfume so it must not have been very strong.

  3. This kind of behavior consistently blows my mind, that such a blatant stereotype was considered ‘all in good fun.’ But it no longer surprises me, sadly.

    How disheartening. Reminds me of a local farmers market, where all the “peace loving” forward thinkers had a blow up doll of Bush– people paid a dollar for a chance to punch our (then) President. HUH? Look in the mirror much?


  4. “That is nuts, Julie! Not only that it happened, but that it was allowed to happen!”

    Yes, ma’am. I really expected someone from staff to ask her to stop, but they didn’t.

    What is sad, is this is such a fabulous conference.

  5. “How disheartening. Reminds me of a local farmers market, where all the “peace loving” forward thinkers had a blow up doll of Bush– people paid a dollar for a chance to punch our (then) President. HUH? Look in the mirror much?”

    Really sad. I wonder how those forward thinkers would feel about someone doing the same to their favorite politician. Therein lies the rub. It’s fun as long as it is against YOUR perceived enemy, but when the shoe goes on the other foot, then it isn’t funny.

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