Monday, July 08, 2013

Moments


It’s been a while.  Lots has happened, but also nothing.  We haven’t moved house as someone in the chain died.  We have no idea when the move will be on the cards again.  Ho hum.

Anyway, I have been continuing to listen to Desert Island Discs and was interested in an observation from Hugh Laurie a couple of weeks ago:

 "I heard the other day that there have been more photographs taken in the last twelve months than there have ever been taken, in the world, ever. Because people are now photographing – I shudder to think what they are photographing – everything and nothing. No interaction is deemed to have actually happened unless somebody has a picture of it. Nobody is satisfied with having met a person without having a photograph to prove it. I think that is odd, and I think it’s so odd that it might actually be starting to alter the way we think about each other and the way we think about general day-to-day social interaction."





Sunday, March 17, 2013

Moving Times?



So… we’ve been looking for a house.  With a mixed amount of enthusiasm.  We looked at a few in February – the first day we looked at five, one of which we really liked.  The other houses were a lot of money for run down or just not terribly nice houses.  Then we saw another one last weekend.  It was ok, but again, a lot of money for a house that needed a fair bit of work (the current owners had seven children in a three bedroom house).  Anyway, yesterday we saw three more and we REALLY liked one of them.  I could definitely imagine living there.  It was also one of the cheapest ones we have seen.  Result.

I’ll be on the phone tomorrow morning to arrange a second viewing.  We live quite a long way from the house so it would be difficult to go there after work, but we’ll have to see whether the agent (genuinely) thinks we can’t wait until the weekend.

We could be on the move…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Summing Up



I have come to the conclusion that I really like Desert Island Discs.  Except that I prefer listening to it as a podcast because I don’t particularly like listening to the music choices.  That is probably odd, but it is indeed true.  On the podcasts they can only play small snippets of the music, so I much prefer it.  Kirsty Young is a really good interviewer and I like finding out about the people featured on the programme.  Just not their taste in music.

Anyway at lunch time today I went for a stroll and was listening to Kirsty Young speaking to Terry Leahy, who is the CEO of Tesco.  I was slightly in two minds about listening to it because I am not very keen on Tesco and so wasn’t sure I really wanted to learn more about its head honcho.  Anyway, it was actually quite a good programme, but there was a moment that summed up Tesco for me.  Kirsty Young asked him whether all of his family was required to shop only at Tesco, and he explained that he bribed his children to tell on his wife if she ever stopped at Waitrose on the way home.  There’s a whole load of wrong in that, but it could be taken as a bit of a joke.  However, Kirsty pursued it a bit more and he was entirely serious about the point – and ended up badgering is wife so much about shopping at Waitrose that she now no longer does it.  That’s Tesco for you – it stifles consumer choice.  And requires people to turn in friends and family like some Stalinist dictatorship in order to destroy all other possible contenders.  Remember that the next time you are eyeing up a buy one get one free offer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Access



It was G’s 40th birthday a few days ago.  After much effort, G found a restaurant that was wheelchair accessible.  One of G’s friends coming to the meal has been in a wheelchair for about a year and has had a few bad experiences.  A lot of restaurants that are listed as wheelchair accessible have self-declared themselves as such.  Whilst it would perhaps be harsh to say that they have lied, it might be fair to say that they don’t actually know what “wheelchair accessible” actually means.  Let’s consider further:

Q: Are you wheelchair accessible?

Restaurant:  Yes.

Woo-hoo!  Job done.  But hang on… you might just want to ask a couple more questions…

Q: So is there easy access for a wheelchair user to get into the restaurant?

Restaurant:  Yes.  Apart from the steps to get through the front door.  But there are only a couple of them.

Er… right… I wasn’t aware that wheelchairs and steps are actually compatible.  Maybe it might be worth a couple more questions.

Q: So, is there disabled toilet on the ground floor?

This often elicits one of two answers.

Answer 1:

Restaurant:  No, it’s in the basement/ mezzanine floor/ some other inaccessible part of the restaurant for someone in a wheelchair

Answer 2:

Restaurant: No.  But the pub next door does, and they won’t mind them using it.

G phoned about 10 restaurants and got these types of answers from all of them – and they had all declared themselves as wheelchair accessible.  However, there was a restaurant that, after a long conversation, was definitely wheelchair accessible.  All the answers were as hoped for and the owner was very reassuring.  G then phoned on the day to confirm that all was ok for the booking.  A slight alarm bell went off when one of the staff said “I see you have an invalid in your party”.  Seriously??  An invalid???  And then, for some unknown reason, wanted to know how old the person was (about 35 incidentally…). 

When we arrived at the restaurant, we found there was actually a step that was about six inches high at the entrance.  But the owner said it was all fine because he would have people standing by the door to lift the wheelchair in.  To clarify, THAT IS NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE.  I am able-bodied and if you had burly men lift me into a restaurant, I would not be impressed.  This is no less the case if you are in a wheelchair. 

I am so unimpressed by people’s understanding of wheelchair accessibility.  I totally get that not everywhere can be accessible, but don’t say that you are if you’re not.  Being able to get through the door and to go the toilet in the restaurant are really basic things and if you are not able to provide those you are not properly accessible.  And don’t even start me on the restaurant that had a disabled toilet, but had a table right up against the door.  When G asked them about why they blocked the disabled toilet door, the reply was “we never get disabled people in here”…

It’s my sister’s 40th birthday this week and I have got her an iPad.  I was talking to mum today and telling her what I had got (and that I had got 20% off it as HMV have massively discounted their stock.  Marvellous!).  We were discussing what my nephew was getting my sister, and mum said he had told her that he and I were getting her an iPad.  Oh right… that was news to me, but a nice healthy contribution toward its cost would be most welcome (he is seven years old incidentally…).  So I thought I’d better phone my nephew to check what he thought was going on.  I asked him what he was doing about a present for his mum and he somewhat sheepishly said that he thought we were both getting her an iPad.  I said that was fine, but that maybe he might want to give her something on the day, as she wouldn’t be getting the present until Saturday.  We then discussed some ideas, and what was happening about him getting a card for her.  Anyway, I am having lunch with my sister on Wednesday and it now turns out that I will be giving her a sealed package of goods to take home with her – being a birthday present and a card for my nephew to wrap/ write so that he can give them to my sister on Thursday.  Plus we’ll both be giving her the Ipad on Saturday.  I think my nephew might have done quite well out of this deal…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Special Purchase

Looking for that special something for the little lady in your life?  Well look no further than here.  Do remember to read the comments on Amazon for some important customer feedback.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Emphasis


Iceland was great.  Despite wondering whether we would spend most of the time in darkness while we were there, it was actually fine – although the sun didn’t rise until about 10.30am.  Reykjavik is a very nice city and the landscape is really interesting.  You probably have to like views and venturing out in the cold (at least in winter) to really enjoy Iceland, but it is a good place to visit.  We are not thinking of going to northern Iceland at some point.

It was difficult to adapt to going back to work.  This was helped by me not being able to find a pair of shoes to wear for work.  Emphasis on the word “pair”.  To the casual observer they matched, but should anyone have undertaken to scrutinise my footwear in detail they would have noticed that all was not as it seemed…  After a few days, I did finally manage to find two shoes that did genuinely match.
You might well be aware of the news story at the moment about horsemeat being an ingredient in Tesco Value burgers.  The BBC has run a story called What is actually in a value burger?  That is an almost pointless story.  Whilst it explains the rules around levels of meat content, it lists the ingredients of a value burger as:

  • Beef, chicken or pork, depending on the type of burger, mixed with:
  • Onion and/or onion extract
  • Fat
  • Flour or rusk
  • Dehydrated meat powders
  • Stabilising chemicals
Source: Tesco, Asda

Isn’t the reason why this story has come about because a) horsemeat was not listed as one of the ingredients and b) Tesco seemingly had no idea that horsemeat was in the burgers.  Giving the list of ingredients as recorded on the packet or getting Tesco to say what the ingredients are does not necessarily answer the question of what is actually in the burgers.   The reason this story is in the news is that there was a “mystery ingredient” in the burgers.  Surely then this article has just totally missed the point??

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cheer



I have finally finished for Christmas.  I haven’t had a week or more off work since April.  I am now off work for three weeks and during that time we are going to Scotland for a few days (not exactly a holiday…) and to Iceland (the country, not the supermarket).

Battles continue with the freeholder about us taking over the management of where we live.  She and her husband totally object to this, and even more so (if it is possible to “more than totally object” – sorry grammar police, it’s Christmas and I am feeling reckless) that we have appointed a managing agent.  The freeholder and her husband currently seem to be taking a good cop/ bad cop approach with us.  Yesterday, we got an e-mail from the freeholder’s husband – who has no formal role and we don’t actually have to deal with him – basically telling us we were completely rubbish and which included a delightful assessment  saying that given we had appointed a managing agent we are either not willing to accept responsibility or are incompetent.  When I had wiped away the tears of sorrow and shame caused by his missive, I realised that he didn’t even say Happy Christmas to sign off his e-mail.  I think I might now know someone who is on the naughty list…

Anyway, if you have been receiving lots of Christmas round robin letters, you might appreciate this fictional response.