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How to take command of a situation

THIS will make you raise your eyebrow.

And if it does, I may claim a small fee.

It would be worth it. I'd happily pay for a course in eyebrow-raising (I checked Embra's evening class schedule and they don't offer one, probably because of a lack of qualified teachers).

And when I say eyebrow raising, I specify the singular. It's the interrogative, sceptical or surprised eyebrow. And only a select few have the gift of raising it.

I am not among that talented minority. But I wonder if the art can be learned. Or is it an innate ability, like the rolled tongue that facilitates the sharp whistle?

I remember being interviewed by a local bully (I think I was supposed to be interviewing him; funny how these things turn out) and his single raised eyebrow, coupled with a manic, piercing stare might have been really intimidating.

I say "might have been" because it was obvious he'd practised this in the mirror and the effect was studied, which made it hard to suppress a titter.

But one can understand why someone interested in personal power would cultivate the elevated brow. It hints at rational superiority, at a person not easily ruffled, someone who is in command of the situation.

Confronted by a situation, we all would wish to command it. But few of us do. For my part, I'm aware that, in general, situations command me. I am a leaf on the wind, when I would be the wind blowing the leaf.

Much admired masters of the raised eyebrow include Mr Spock, of Star Trek, and Jeeves, valet to Bertram Wilberforce Wooster.

Women, too, sometimes have the knack. Exhibit A: Saga Noren, the detective played by uber-beautiful (I use the hackneyed, teutonic term advisedly) Sofia Helin in The Bridge.

They all have in common a lack of emotion or even a dearth of normal social skills, Spock because he's a Vulcan, Jeeves because his profession demands the former at least and Saga because she has a personality disorder.

I can't remember if Sherlock Holmes raised an eyebrow. I wouldn't put it past him. It strikes me that at least three out of these four people are odd.

But I cannot think that raising a single eyebrow makes you odd. It must be the other way about. And it would be a price worth paying if it helped you take command of the situation.

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Education

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