Tag Archives: people

Ranting on a sunny afternoon

 The weather is simply gorgeous today again.  I am on annual leave from work and the sun is cracking the flags – that never happens.  Usually when I am off work the dark clouds come over, the temperature drops several degrees and the rain comes down with a vengeance.  Not today though, the fifth day in a row we have had glorious weather.  So, what could I possibly have to rant about?  Ok, so there is the little matter of the school holidays and bored kids, but that’s not really been an issue up to press.  We have had theatre trips, girlie shopping trips and lunches, washing the car (with the obligatory water fight), tidying the house, now for an afternoon of relaxation in the back garden with a book.

With my daughter packed off to her friend’s house for the afternoon I carefully chose the right place in the garden, got myself a nice long cool drink, gathered my shades, sun cream on, book in hand and … relax.  I was less than two minutes in to my (well deserved) treat when the beautiful bird song was disrupted by an almighty roar of an engine and the mechanical clattering of a pneumatic drill.

I had to get up to investigate I couldn’t just sit there and read my book, I couldn’t concentrate.  I walked down the driveway to the front of the house and saw the offenders glowing in their luminous work wear which was further accentuated by the glorious sunshine.  I hid behind the large conifer at the front of our house to see if I could get a better look at what they were doing without appearing to be staring.  Well, I didn’t want them to think I was being nosey did I?

With a little hope I thought they might be addressing the potholes in the road caused by the snow and dreadful winter we had just had.  Alas no, they looked to be resurfacing a section of the footpath across the way.  The section they were dealing with could have been no more than ten yards in length, and four feet in width. 

I found myself asking three simple questions:

1.            Why was this necessary at all?  There was nothing wrong with that piece of the footpath that I had ever noticed;

2.            Why were there eight men assigned to this task?  Oh yes, One to dig, and seven to stand around and watch – silly me;

3.            Why do it today???  Ok, so I appreciate schedule of works and all that means that they didn’t decide this morning to do this piece of work, they probably had it timetabled for weeks.  Nevertheless, I thought it most inconsiderate on their part.

So, what to do – ignore them for the rest of the afternoon and read my book in the back garden as planned?  Or, go inside the house, close all the windows and sulk.  Common sense did actually prevail.  I would go outside and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.  After all, they are workmen, and my past experience tells me they won’t be at it for long!  Just one last thing to do – take a photo for this blog – from inside of course.  Don’t want to give the impression I was a curtain twitching busy body with nothing better to do!

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Shoes hold the key to the answer

Bus travel has never been a favourite pastime of mine, but of late it has become a necessity to get me to work and back (see  Good Manners ).  Whilst other commuters are sitting in their cars during the busy rush hour, tooting their horns, stuck in traffic queues obviously rushing nowhere, I have rediscovered my love of reading.  I can sit back on the bus travelling along in the bus lane passing all those grumpy motorists and immerse myself in another world through the written word.

I admit that I am easily distracted and it does take an awful lot of concentration on my part to remain focussed on the page in question.  An example to illustrate this would be; yesterday morning, the bus had stopped at the bus stop (oddly enough), several people got on and the doors closed behind them.  As the bus was pulling away a young man knocked on the door.  The driver looked across at him and continued to pull away.  Now it wasn’t the knock that caught my attention, that would have been understandable and indeed to an extent acceptable, but as I had already watched the three or four people board the bus, pay their fare and take their place standing in the aisle, I suspect my attention had already roamed.

I do get quite annoyed at myself for being so nosey and particularly at the moment as I am nearing the end of the novel, which I would like to finish and don’t get me wrong it is rather good.  I did therefore whilst waiting for the bus for my return journey in the evening promise myself I would make a real effort to concentrate.

So, I sat on the bus, got myself comfortable and retrieved my book from my bag.  Opened the page and started to read.  Before I knew it we were a good while into the journey and I hadn’t been distracted once – that was until a rather large lady came and sat next to me. 

Now I don’t wish to be unfair, I appreciate the seats are quite small and even for someone of a slight build like myself, they are, well shall we say snug.  Fair enough.  However, I do take exception to those who think that they have a right to plonk themselves down next to you with a complete disregard about someone else’s personal space and comfort.  The lady in question sat herself down to the right of me and her left hand side of her body was physically covering the right hand side of mine.  I was pinned to the seat.  Aside from the fact that this was annoying and quite rude, it was exceptionally constrictive.  I found myself unable to breathe let alone turn the page in my book.  Anyhow, after a little huffing and puffing, and some clever re-positioning, I was able to squish myself into a corner of the bus seat, resembling something similar to a contortionist and I blocked out any further negative thoughts and carried on with the task in hand – reading my book.

Several minutes passed and I was back into the storyline.  At which point the lady said quite out of the blue, “what time does Currys close?”  Now for those of you who don’t know, Currys is a large electrical retailer which is based out of town in the opposite direction to the one we were currently travelling in.

“Er, I have no idea, but these stores tend to stay open until about 8pm.”  End of conversation?  I hope so.

A few turns of the pages later – “Dongles.”

Ignore her she might just be saying random words to anyone who’s listening.

“Dongles.  Have you heard of them?  Do you know what they are?”

Oh my goodness me.  I have attracted the nutter on the bus, I thought these people were a thing of the past!

“Do you know how dongles work?”  Well ten out of ten for persistency.

“A little.”  Was my polite response with fingers firmly crossed and eyes never leaving the page hoping against hope that she would glean enough from my body language that I did not wish to engage in this technological chit chat.

It didn’t work, as deep down I didn’t expect it would.  For some reason, people who do not read seem to think that they can hold a conversation with someone who is blatantly keeping themselves to themselves and do not wish to engage.  There was nothing for it.  I briefly explained what I understand the workings of a dongle to be and how she would be able to browse the internet through an internet service provider of her choice and ‘top up’ her usage as and when she required it.

“Oh.” [Blank look] “No shoes?”

Now I admit it, this totally lost me and at this point I felt the need to ask her to quantify this bizarre statement.  She had got me hooked.  The plot in the book now a distant memory.  How on earth was I meant to concentrate?

The lady gestured her rather large arm in the direction of someone further down the vehicle and almost took someone out who was walking down the aisle of the bus to alight.  “Is that the fashion these days?  Oh I don’t understand young trends.  Maybe that is what I should do.  Maybe then I will understand everything else.”

With this she got up and got off the bus.  What can I say?  I wanted to take my shoes off to see if it gave me any enlightenment!

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Planning for the Future

A while ago I celebrated a significant birthday and without giving too much away, but giving you enough so that you have a pretty accurate idea, they say that “life begins” at this age.

It passed quite quietly and insignificantly really with no big celebration party or fuss and the months following to be honest showing little or no evidence of the saying being remotely true.

What I have come to realise though is that I am obviously getting older – this seems more apparent now and I am developing urges to get my future plans for my life in order.  I have begun to compile my list in order to address this and here it is.

1. Pension

Ensure that my private pension is in order for when my retirement day comes.  I have to admit though that this is a strange one.  One day it seems to be looming ever closer, and then the next, the government decides to extend the working age, so it disappears further into the future!  Anyway, at the moment at current estimates and subject to the world’s economic state I have a pension which will I should (all being well) be able to manage on.

2. Making a Will

I know that this is something I should have done a long time ago, but it is always one of those things I keep putting off with the usual perfunctory comments of “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or “yeah, I’ll get around to it”.  I suppose now I am ever more conscious of my own mortality and think this needs sorting as soon as possible.

3. Regular outings to the garden centre

This is an absolute must.  I cannot wait until the day comes when I am older and retired and have all the time in the world to do just as I please.  I will save my ‘spare time’ visits to the garden centre specifically to take trips at especially well-coordinated times i.e. weekends or bank holidays.  I think this needs precision planning to time the outings to coincide with the desired effect of being really annoying to other people who have less spare time on their hands.

I plan to join up with two or three friends, link arms and walk at a very sedate pace along the narrowest of pathways with no option for anyone to pass by.  I will point at various plants, flowers and decorative garden ornaments with my walking stick, just missing other people with it as I wave it about.  I will of course not need this stick as a walking aid, I will just have it purely for the purpose of potentially taking someone’s eye out.

I will, along with said friends, go for lunch at the in-house restaurant or cafe and spend many minutes in the queue deciding whether I want a delicious cream scone or an equally delicious chocolate muffin.  Then I will debate with the person serving on behind the counter and tell them all about why I may not be able to manage the fresh cream inside the scone because of the ‘incident’ that happened in the bathroom this morning and how these days fresh cream can sometimes play havoc with my bowel movements.  I will say it loud enough so that anybody else looking forward to an appetising lunch or snack will be suitably put off by the discussion.

Once I have finally made the decision to eat the chocolate muffin (“because it looks soft enough for me to eat without my dentures in”), I will shuffle to the till area to pay for my food.  Oh, but first I need to converse with the cashier about the different range of teas and coffees available and how there “never used to be so many in my day”.  I will laugh with her (as she is such a nice girl) and eventually plump for a good old fashioned pot of English tea for one, not some of that “new fangled muck”.  I will not notice that she has just gone through the whole drinks menu for me explaining in great detail the differences and the taste experiences.   I will then have a long discussion with one of my friends who also would like a pot of English tea for one to see if it would be better value if we purchased a pot for two and split the cost.  I will then dismiss the idea, because tea doesn’t taste the same when it comes in a large pot!

I shall make sure I haven’t got my ‘right’ glasses with me so that I will have the opportunity of asking the nice young girl behind the counter to sort out my money in my purse for me.  I will then struggle to check that she has got the right amount, before allowing her to put it into the cash drawer.  I will then complain that there is nowhere to sit, until some very kind family give up their seats for me and my friends.  Aren’t people so courteous?

4. Go to town

In a not too far removed situation to item 3, I will set off into town roughly around lunchtime, just when the workers have their hour off to achieve everything, like paying bills, buying lunch, grabbing some urgent household supplies, visit the bank or other such mundane things.  I too will need these things, so I will time my visit to be as disruptive as possible to everyone else.  It doesn’t matter that I have been up since the crack of dawn, nor does it matter that I seemingly have the rest of the day to carry out these tasks.  I mean I won’t have will I, because after all, I will have to get back home in time to make tea for about four o’clock.  I don’t know when it will happen that I will start losing interest in having my evening meal around seven o’clock as I have done all my life, but I am preparing early for it, as it will come as sure as night follows day.

I am sure that I will think of many more things to plan for, and I sincerely hope that I will have many more years to do this, but you can never be too prepared can you?

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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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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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