Category Archives: Everyday observations

The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

I have at the moment got a raging toothache.  When I say toothache, I cannot be absolutely sure it is a tooth that is the origin and cause.  The only thing I can be certain of is the pain is emanating from inside my mouth and resembles that of toothache.  The left hand side of my face aches almost to the point of paralysis.  In fact now I think about it, I am sure I have overheard people discussing my wellbeing recently – I do recall whispers and murmurings of ‘face-ache’ whilst they were looking and gesturing in my direction.  Aren’t people kind and thoughtful?

Anyway, I don’t often visit the dentist, except for my annual check up and on very rare occasions when I need some minor repair work carrying out on them.  If and when I do experience any pain in the oral region, I just hope that it will pass swiftly and uneventfully, so that I don’t have to pester these very busy people and have them regard me as a time waster.  Past experience though has told me than when pain strikes in the mouth it is usually for a genuine reason, but still I don’t like to bother anyone.  In this instance though the pain is simply unbearable and I do not need to think twice about getting it resolved.

Trying to make an appointment at my local dentist for any kind of treatment is a feat in itself.  I rang them up to ask if they had any emergency appointments available.  This is a brief transcript of the call:

Me

Hi – can I make an emergency appointment please?

Receptionist

When would you like one for, both the dentists are booked for the next 4 or 5 weeks, are you ok to wait until then?

Me

Well no, not really.  I need to see someone really urgently.  I am in excruciating pain and have been for over 24 hours now.

Receptionist

What exactly is the problem?

Me

[Remaining polite and resisting the urge to ask when she had graduated from Dentistry College] I don’t know – that’s why I would like to see the dentist

Receptionist

Well if you could give me an indication of what you think may be the problem, I may be able to gauge the length of appointment I need to make for you

Me

I haven’t lost a filling, I don’t think it’s an abscess, but the whole of the left side of my face hurts and even strong pain killers are not easing the pain

Receptionist  

Well the earliest we have got is two weeks on Wednesday.  Would you like me to book that for you?

Me

You’ve got nothing earlier?

Receptionist

No I’m afraid we haven’t

Me

Well if that’s the earliest then I suppose it’ll have to do 

It wouldn’t have been any funnier if she had told me the appointment was at two-thirty!

I have since had a conversation with someone who is ‘in the know’.  I will not reveal my source for fear of any reprisals from the dental society that may come their way – probably a little melodramatic, but hey I’m thinking this needs spicing up with an element of danger!  Anyhow, to cut to the chase, I was told that ‘urgent’ is considered losing a filling, losing a crown, or a suspected abscess and they will miraculously find an appointment almost immediately.

Amazing.  If I had lied about what I thought the cause to be I would probably be sorted right now.  Instead here I am pumping myself with an excessive amount of non prescription painkilling drugs and still in constant agony awaiting the two weeks to drag by. 

Now I understand where the saying “truth hurts” comes from, because it is certainly hurting me.

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PS I Love You

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Why does the world think I should pay an extortionate amount of money on cheap worthless tat

To say “I love you”?

 Ok so it doesn’t flow as well as the more traditional versions and doesn’t follow the poetic rhythm or beat, but I think you get the gist.

In the run up to Valentine’s Day, the shops and restaurants seem to forget that everyday life goes on and their main focus is to sell, sell, sell goods and/or services which are focussed around ‘love’.  The only love they have is the soulless love of money and profiteering.  Ordinary sensible people are drawn into the furore of spending money unnecessarily on over-priced rubbish that would not normally receive a second glance the rest of the year.

Quite surprisingly though as the world continues to spin on its axis, everyday life does have a habit of continuing irrespective of the senseless celebrations that are we are expected to subscribe to.  I say life continues, but that’s not strictly true though. 

Take this example.  It’s my dad’s birthday very soon.  I would like a decent selection of cards to choose from.  Can I find any? Can I heck.  I dropped by a very large and well known card emporium.  I am not kidding when I say that more than 50-60% of the store was dedicated to pink and red soppy mush related gifts and cards.  I found the male family card section and was left with a massive choice of a dozen or so! 

Now a gift – hmmm what to buy?  I am not talking about simply perusing the card store, but a vast selection of shops in the town.  Let’s see.  A soft toy holding a plush heart?  A bunch of flowers? Some sexy lingerie? Some lovers handcuffs or other such novelty sex toy? I know I love him and we are a close family, but that is possibly taking it too far?  Chocolates – now there’s a safe bet – now then which to choose?  Chocolate boobs or chocolate willies?!  Aaarrrggghhh!

I could though extend my options and stop being so churlish.  What about a cuddly duck or chick, or maybe a nicely decorated bonnet or chocolate egg seeing as the shops obviously can’t get rid of them I mean, they’ve been on the shelves since Boxing Day!  What’s that you say?  They’re for Easter, and just exactly when is that then?  Ah yes in about another 8 weeks time!

I really do pity people who have their birthdays on or around 14th February.   I suspect that it is akin to having a birthday on or around Christmas Day.  Aside from there being a distinct lack of choice of gifts, it is usually a good excuse for some less generous person to give one gift instead of two and pass it off as a joint present.  This is not good if you receive a bouquet of red roses for your birthday on the 14th.  Mind you after saying that it is an upgrade from the bunch of weeds I generally get on my birthday from hubby (only joking – he doesn’t buy me flowers).

Anyhow – ditched the present idea in favour of a family meal.  A nice restaurant with hubby, daughter and mum and dad.  Now then where should I book?  Oh that’s right – nowhere because everywhere is full and even where there is a table available it is only for two people.  Fancy wanting to book a table for more than two people – what a ridiculous concept.  I give in!  I don’t recall it being this tricky last year.  [Note to self: buy birthday card and present for dad in June for next year].

I love my hubby any time of the year.  Ok there are some exceptions to this – when there is an ‘m’ in the day of the week, oh and an ‘s’ and sometimes even when there is a ‘t’ in there.  If I need to tell him I love him, I don’t need to say it with tat on the one day of the year that everyone else feels obligated to say it.

 Oh and another thing – whilst writing this – I am being bombarded with valentine ads on the tv.   Give me a break!!!

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Diets and weight loss – how much more can I stand?

Diets funny things aren’t they?  I guess we will all know someone in our lives at this moment in time that are on one – or have been on one.  Some may be partaking of this lifestyle at this very moment.

I am not ranting about diets per se, but about those people who say they are on a diet but actually have no real concept of what that means. 

Definition: v. To eat and drink according to a regulated system, especially so as to lose weight or control a medical condition.

Since January (when a few people I know made their New Year resolution to lose weight), I have heard the following reasons for them either failing dismally in their quest and giving up completely, or for continuing with their regime to no avail:

  1. I can’t eat today because I am getting weighed tonight  [I’ve left it too late again and I’m grasping at straws];
  2. I lost ½ lb last night so I went out for a meal after slimming club to celebrate  [I’m hungry];
  3. I put 1lb on so I went out for a meal after slimming club to commiserate  [I’m hungry];
  4. I’ve not had an alcoholic drink all week so I am going out and getting bladdered at the weekend  [I’m not totally giving up drinking for this diet!];
  5. There are no calories in the end bit of chocolate bars  [Well the few that are left in there don’t really count];
  6. I’m cutting out on bread because that’s where all the calories are coming from  [I’ll replace it with 2 tortilla wraps – well they’re not as fattening or as filling so I will need 2];
  7. It’s just a minor slip I’ll start again the diet tomorrow  [It doesn’t matter that this is the 3rd consecutive day I have said this, I don’t think anyone’s listening];
  8. My husband won’t eat the things I eat and I am not making 2 different meals  [I am not taking it seriously enough to know that with imagination we can both have the same meals, and besides it would mean I’d have to have a smaller portion];
  9. I’m too stressed to think about the diet today  [I have no willpower and I will blame anything];
  10. Well it’s (name) birthday, it’d be rude not to share a piece of cake with them [I want a piece of cake and that’s a perfect excuse to get away with having one]
  11. I get a lot out of going to slimming club as I can share recipe and dieting ideas with other people  [I only go to the slimming club because there are people there worse than me at losing weight and it makes me feel better]
  12. I hadn’t time to make anything for lunch this morning, I’ll grab something healthy at lunchtime  [the stuff I prepare is unappetising and I can’t be bothered as I’ve managed to convince myself that the shop bought ‘healthy’ produce is better for my diet]

Dieting to lose weight works for many people and generally speaking it is those people who have a willingness to change eating and lifestyle habits although I do appreciate that there are some exceptions to the rule.  It takes commitment, a desire to succeed and knowledge of how to go about it sensibly.  If you have all of the above, seek advice from your doctor or health practitioner not your mate in the local bar who gives the advice that they “have tried dieting and it doesn’t work”, or “your body finds it’s own natural weight no matter what you do”. 

If you recognise in yourself any of the above, please think about it – there are good rewards to be had.  If you have no serious intention of losing weight, then please do not pretend you have.  I am not interested.

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Mini Rants #1 – A selection

Have you ever considered during the course of a waking day just how much there is out there to irritate you? Maybe it hadn’t crossed your mind.  It hadn’t mine until today.  I thought I would provide you with just a selection of thought provoking instances that happened to me today.  I offer a suggestion that you will agree with at least one of them.

1.   Last piece of paper

The first annoyance of the day, less than five minutes after I got up and out of bed.  A trip to the bathroom and just at the point of no return, a realisation that there is only one sheet of toilet tissue left on the roll with the replacement rolls stored in the cupboard across the way.  Who in their right mind leaves one sheet of paper for the next person?  What purpose does it serve exactly?  I won’t go into further detail on this one.

2.   Bus Fares

At what point does it come as a shock to someone waiting at a bus stop that they will at some point have to pay for their fare? 

The bus was running at least five minutes late this morning, so anyone waiting will have had plenty of time to prepare themselves for its impending arrival, but no.  I didn’t just count one I counted three people who, once boarding the bus, then had to rifle around in their handbag to locate their purse.  Once found, they then had to seek to produce the money.  Fumbling around to gather their change, they seemed to think it appropriate to strike up a conversation with the driver.

“Ooh aren’t these coins so fiddly? If you wait a minute I’ll get the change exactly right for you.  I bet you get this all this time don’t you”, and other such inane drivel.  Do they not realise that the bus is running to a timed schedule and can they not hear the rest of the passengers grumbling their discontent?

3.   Cash machines

I know there are various elements of the ATMs, cash machines, holes in the wall whatever you choose to call them that irk some people.  The one thing that really gets me annoyed is waiting an incessantly long time for my turn even when there are only two people in front of me in the queue.  No matter how long I think about it and believe me I had more than long enough time standing in line today, I simply cannot fathom what on earth people find to do at them that takes so long. 

This may be going a bit far, but I did actually time myself today: insert card; wait for machine to register card; enter pin number; request balance; select another service i.e. cash; enter cash amount required; retrieve card; await cash; await receipt.  Job done and all with a total time of 48 seconds.

4.   Wrongly labelled shelves

At lunchtime I made a quick dash into the supermarket.  I only wanted a large bottle of lemonade, but got slightly distracted by one of their Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) offers.  I fell for it and bought the product(s). 

Once I got to the self service checkout (mini rant on its way) I noticed that the special offer had not been deducted.  Luckily there was an assistant nearby who, eventually offered her help.  Upon her return she advised me that the label DIRECTLY BENEATH said item was for another brand situated further up the shelf!  I declined the product.  It was only because I only had one other item that I noticed.  If this had formed part of my regular weekly shop, they would have got away with charging me full price for 2 items that I didn’t actually want or need in the first place and I wouldn’t have noticed.

5.   Self service checkouts

Since when did these save time?  Save time for whom?  The way I see it is that they save time in recruiting new staff members.  They have never saved me time.

Take today for example.  I had 3 items.  I wanted to place them directly into my bag once I had scanned them.  The bag which is placed over my shoulder has to be removed and placed on the special bag platform on the checkout.  An additional unnecessary manoeuvre which added time to the process.  The items (as mentioned above) were not showing the price I expected.  I pressed the cancel button, re-scanned, found myself questioning the machine – I did, I actually said, “so what happens – do you deduct the offer price when I proceed to pay?”  It didn’t answer.  The lady behind the till would have done. 

There is a time and a place for these items.  My life is not the time – where I go is not the place!

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Maitre d’s with no p’s and q’s

After seeing a trailer for a BBC tv programme last night I was inspired to put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard).  The programme in question was Michel Roux’s Service.  This is an apprentice type reality tv programme which trains would be waiters to become quality front of house restaurant staff.

I am positive there is a need for training front of house staff to a reasonable standard here in the UK.  I am not privileged enough to be able to frequent the quality Michelin-starred eating establishments, but I would expect good service wherever I eat out, particularly since they are helping to pocket my hard earned money.  It’s not too much to ask is it?

Not so long ago I visited a bar and restaurant that had recently changed ownership.  It had undergone a refurbishment programme and re-opened with a whole new identity and a brand new menu.  It was highly recommended so we decided to give it a try.

We chose a Sunday to try the place out, against my better judgement about eating out on the Sabbath – after all, preparing and serving Sunday dinner for my family I consider to be my forté – we reserved our tabled and built the whole day’s activities around it.

We arrived a good fifteen minutes or so before our reservation time.  Pretty much to time, the waitress called us over and showed us to our table.  So far so good – tabled booked for 2:00pm – shown to our table at around 2:00pm.

We perused the menu.  This is generally a performance in itself as my hubby always invariably forgets his reading glasses and I then have to proceed with my ‘audience with hubby and child’ story telling scenario.

I was impressed with what I saw.  There were (amongst others) the usual suspects: roast Sunday dinner with choice of beef, pork or lamb; lasagne; a variety of steaks and of course children’s favourites (burger and chips; chicken nuggets, etc).   We made our decision and awaited someone coming to take our order. 

We waited and we waited and we waited. 

After a further ten minutes or so I asked at the bar if we should place our food order with the bar staff.  I was assured that someone would come to our table to take our order.  I explained that we had been waiting for a long time, to which they apologised on behalf of the waiting staff and said they would find out what was going on.

Eventually someone did show up to take our order, from memory, it was a good three quarters of an hour after we had initially been shown to our table.  However, being English, we did the usual smiling and displaying body language to indicate everything was all right with the world yet as soon as they left the table muttered “bloody ridiculous” “this is a joke” and other such finely articulated remarks.  We did note there was no offer of an apology or explanation as to why we had been kept waiting.

The meal arrived quite promptly – not quickly enough for me to suspect it was a mere ‘warm-up’ but a reasonable length of time for us to not die of starvation.  It comprised venison for me, gammon for hubby, and spaghetti bolognese for my daughter.  There was a distinct lack of conversation when the waitress brought it out to us:

 “Venison?” She passed the plate to me whilst mouthing something to one of her colleagues on the next table;

“Gammon?” She passed the plate to hubby – bit more chat to her chum. 

Obviously I have to give credit where credit is due.  She cleverly applied a process of elimination to deduce the last dish was for my daughter.  This removed the need to speak at all for serving this dish!  There was no “enjoy your meal” or other such pleasantry or interaction coming our way, but hey we were hungry we could live with that. 

We did however, enjoy the food – it was nothing spectacular, but it was pleasant, warm and flavoursome. 

My daughter then asked the inevitable after dinner question “can I have a pudding?”  Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem, however, on this occasion, with our pre-paid plot in the cemetery looming ever closer,  we could not be sure time was on our side.

I stacked the used dinner plates up in the centre of the table as indication that we were done and waited for them to be cleared away.  We tried on several occasions to catch the eye of any waiting on staff and said “excuse me” on a number of occasions.  Finally, the waitress came over to our table and asked

“Are these finished with?”

“No, we thought we’d have a mid-meal interval and arrange the crockery in a jaunty fashion to amuse ourselves whilst we digest our food” was what I wanted to say.  “Yes thank you” was what came out. 

We ordered a pudding for my daughter, she ate it, we paid and we left.  We wanted to get on with the rest of our now very shortened afternoon.  I am not asking for a silver service 5 star Michelin front of house experience, but I am asking for a little bit of respect, communication and civility.

I think I will try and watch ‘Michel Roux’s Service’ on the catch-up BBC i-player service.  If nothing else it may irritate me enough to inspire a tv review rant?

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Afternoon Out

Being a fulltime working mum and married to a football fanatic, it’s not often we go out as a family.  Although hubby’s team were playing away from home this week, he had to still be around to listen to the game in the comfort of his own living room, we had a small window of opportunity to make a trip out as a family.  We could only travel locally as I obviously had the regular ‘end of week household chores’ to do first.

My daughter asked if we could visit a local retail outlet in the next village.  It was converted from a mill complex in the 1980’s-90’s and by all accounts housed some very interesting boutiques and craft shops. 

 Well, as I live locally to the place, obviously I have never visited it before – well who does when it’s on your doorstep?  It doesn’t feel like a day out if it’s so close does it?  So, armed with thermos flasks and a ‘pack-up’ of sandwiches we set off on our long journey.  (Only kidding – 5 minutes by car after we had lunch at home).

 The mill complex, retail outlet is very snugly positioned in the middle of the village.  As we approached the street where we needed to turn off, I became overwhelmed by a strong desire to turn back thinking that this would end in tears. 

 The road should have been wide enough for two cars to pass comfortably going either way.  There was a car waiting to pull out onto the main road.  I indicated to turn down, however, upon initiating the manoeuvre, discovered almost instantly that I could not gain access until this car moved out of the way, due to a car being parked immediately on my left on the entrance to the street.

The car waiting to turn out of the street was unable to move, as I (along with many others parked on the main road) were impeding his vision.  He couldn’t go anywhere, nor could I.  Eventually after a two minute standoff, the car ventured out steadily and committed himself to turning onto the main road.  At last, an opening….. but oh no, stupid me.  Another car decided it would be a good idea for him to move into the last car’s position.  Back to square one.  Several minutes, several cars, lots of tutting, horn blasting and swearing (not always a good idea when you have a 9 year old in the car with you), we were able to move on.

Brilliant – just have to calm down now and enjoy the rest of the two minute journey.  Easier said than done.  Why? I asked myself, on a two lane road, with one lane blatantly completely blocked with parked cars and the other is occupied with a travelling car (i.e. me who incidentally, has right of way) does some idiot think that they can drive up that very stretch?  Where were they going to go??  Again another standoff.  I was confident in my position though, I was backed up with plenty of vehicles behind me.  I was confident now when I mouthed obscenities and gestured that he may question his sexual habits that I had right of way and was not going to back down.  However, I do concede that my parenting skills could’ve been called in to question.  The way I figure it now though – my daughter was laughing her head off, so that can only be good can’t it??

Finally we managed to get into the (very busy) car park.  With much anticipation of the treasures ahead, we left the car and walked into the complex.  Disappointment is not a strong enough descriptive term for what we found.  The 12 or so shops and ‘attractions’ available to us were exclusive – yes – expensive – yes and shoddily presented – a resounding YES!  I am so pleased that we hadn’t travelled so far to experience this.   We strung out the whole trip as long as we possibly could and still could not make it stretch beyond thirty minutes!

I am in two minds about the whole experience.  It was good that I managed to get some ‘quality’ free time with my family and it was virtually free as we couldn’t find anything to buy that wasn’t ridiculously overpriced for what it was.  (Even my daughter who spends money like it is going out of fashion couldn’t find anything to buy!)

However, on the flip side, having lived around here for most of my life I feel very passionate about the area, and I feel sorry and a tinge of remorse that anyone visiting our beautiful part of the country may leave with regret at their trip and may not come again.

I will not reveal the name of this place, as I do not wish to smear it’s name and the good hardworking business people who make their livelihoods here as I do appreciate the contribution they make to the local community.

I will just console myself with ranting!

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Good Manners

Whatever happened to good manners?  I always thought the Brits were renowned for having the good grace to join the end of a queue and then wait for their turn.  It seems that ‘the end’ is now to be interpreted to mean the front, except nobody has told me that. 

Just to give you a bit of a background to this rant. I have now become what I consider to be a seasoned traveller on the ‘peasant wagon’, or ‘bus’ as it is more commonly known.  I never really was a big fan of public transport due to my past experiences of them, albeit quite infrequently.  I found them extremely unreliable, not particularly good value for money and well, dirty, cold and smelly.

My travelling habits were recently changed due to a number of contributing factors ie. my office base changed location and was now at the other end of town, but the cheap car parking was where I used to work some 20 minutes walk away; my car was vandalised by some delightful yobs; I could come and go as I please without having to wait at the bus driver’s convenience; and of course, recent petrol price increases.  So, faced with dark nights, long walks to the car, and not knowing what I would find when I did reach my car, and the bus fares being considerably cheaper – it was a no brainer.

So, after initial hiccups of not knowing what times the buses were supposed to turn up, I soon became wise to the ones that invariably didn’t and now I am pretty confident that I have got it sorted.  That is, all apart from one of my major bugbears.  People pushing in front of me in the queue!

I am not one for waiting at the bus stop for an incessantly stupid amount of time – if the bus is due at 7:10am, I am generally at the stop at around 7:07am awaiting it’s (rather punctual, I have to say) scheduled arrival.  Pretty accurate timings I know, but you will come to realise as you read more rants that I am pretty much a precise kind of person.

So, why is it that I carry out my research in order for me to waste as little time in my life as possible, just so that someone can come along and quite without any regard, push in and devalue my precious time on this earth?  Does this make sense or is it just me?  I think for someone to turn up at the very last second, push in and secure, what sometimes is the last seat on the bus, whilst leaving me to stand is a complete and arrogant disregard of how important someone else’s life is.  I appreciate that some of you may consider this to be an overly exaggerated view, but I suspect there are many who will agree with me. 

The perpetrator is very clever though, I have to give him that.  He has a friend at the stop that he joins every morning.  I say friend, I use this term very loosely.  He turns up, joins her in her place in the queue, stands with her and chats for a nano-second until the bus comes, gets on the bus with her, and then sits anywhere but next to her!  Crafty ploy.

Now as I see it, I have three solutions to my dilemma.  The first one is that I could get to the bus stop before this chap’s friend, so consequently, he would be behind me in the queue.   Now, the drawback as I see it is that this is against my very ethos of making the most of my precious life and not wasting time.  Bearing in mind that she is at the bus stop at least ten minutes before the bus is due (I know this through my initial investigation into the timings in the early days) then I would be wasting a considerable amount of my life.

The second one would be to make friends with her.  I have no desire to.  End of.

The third?  Well, I could say something to the perpetrator.  However, I suspect he has no manners and no conscience and would make me feel petty and churlish, so I would rather raise my blood pressure until such time as this, when I am able to vent my anger in writing!

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