Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm without stupid

As opposed to “I’m with stupid” – the name of a Pet Shop Boys single and also a program on telly.

I’ve been out quite a bit today and strangely enough I have not met one stupid person all day, and that in itself is something worth blogging about. There was one thing – a strange comment that a friend made, which in turn made me think about other strange comments along the same lines made by another friend once – but of course I can’t write about that because I made the mistake of telling all my friends about my blog. Damn it. Let’s just say some people have some very strange ideas about health issues and how to get treatment. If either of them dies I’ll let you know what it is they said.

Now you see him, now you don't

A phrase from a British advert advocating awareness of cyclists by motorists.

Tonight I nipped out to the supermarket to get a couple of things, and I saw the most sensible cyclist I’ve ever seen in my life. Not only did his bike have lights (I hear you gasp in joyful disbelief already) but he was wearing a yellow jacket with reflective strips on it, and a full crash helmet. I couldn’t see if he had a visor on the front of the helmet or not; my husband said I should have run him over so that I could get a closer look.

This is most unusual for a cyclist in this town though, which is obviously why he stood out to me; well, and because of the jacket of course. But the usual attire for a cyclist in this town is dark clothing from head to toe, and if you’re of a fair complexion then you should cover your head with a black balaclava as well. They don’t have lights, and they swerve all over the road, nip out in front of you when you least expect it, and ride on the opposite side of the road in the wrong direction. I witnessed this just the other night when there were two cyclists riding side by side - dark clothing, no lights, swerving all over the place, blah blah blah. I’d just managed to overtake them when a van came in the opposite direction. I was watching the cyclists in my rear view mirror and one of them swerved across the road and was riding towards the oncoming van, which obviously had to break quite suddenly.

If these people want to die can’t they do it in a way that is less distressing (and dangerous) for others? My brother once had a cyclist pull out in front of him with no lights on. He swerved to try to avoid a head on collision but unfortunately still caught him with the side of his vehicle. He was understandably very shaken up as the cyclist was left in a critical condition. Although it was in no way his fault, how can you not question yourself when something like this happens? And obviously it would leave the person nervous of driving again. Thankfully both of them have recovered, but the outcome could have been so different.

Don’t they give road safety lessons after school anymore? And if they do, do children still attend? Is it still regarded as "cool"?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blogging bloggery bloggers

Taken from the expression “Smegging smeggery smegger” from British science fiction comedy "Red Dwarf"

I wish all I ever had to do was read blogs all day. I’ve come across some brilliant blogs, some extremely well written blogs, some hilarious blogs, and some fascinating blogs. Alas, I don’t seem to have time, as I actually have a life, and I’m trying to write a couple of blogs of my own. (Notice how I list writing blogs separately to having a life?)

Once you start writing a blog it seems to take over your life (at least it has with me). I find myself “writing” blogs in my head while I’m shopping, driving, having a bath, all sorts. Unfortunately by the time I get to sit down with my laptop I’ve forgotten what I wanted to write. It actually takes me ages to write an entry too, and then even when I’ve uploaded it I tend to go back and edit it a hundred times. I really liked writing when I was younger, and had a lot of encouragement from my English teacher at school, but I’ve not done any writing for about 17 years now. I used to find it so easy; the thoughts would just flow and my pen could hardly keep up with my brain, and now it takes me ages to just string one sentence together. Still, I have the same problem when I’m talking these days so that should be no surprise.

I wish I had the skill of some of these other bloggers. One of the best blogs I have read, if not the best, is that of Inspector Gadget. I hadn’t even come across his blog before until I read this post on Tom Reynolds blog. I took a look and couldn’t tear myself away from it. He has a fantastically witty style of writing that I can only dream of possessing. Unfortunately his superiors at work seem to have taken a disliking to some of the very honest comments he has made. Personally I don’t understand the politics behind all this sort of thing, and I don’t really care, I just think this is a very interesting and funny blog. It doesn’t seem “damaging” to police image to me in any way at all; I haven’t learnt any shocking secrets about police policies. He just points out the ironies of how the system works, which most of us know about anyway. If he is forced to delete his blog it will be a great loss, not just to the blogging community but to literature - full stop. I sincerely hope that he is able to continue.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!

A line from an irritating song in a British advert for a chicken cooking sauce.

Mr Man and I went to KFC for dinner tonight. I accidentally asked for a McFlurry instead of an Avalanche, which brought back some funny memories for me of when I worked there. We had people coming in all the time asking for things that were on the McDonalds menu, including the fillet-o-fish and the McChicken sandwich! The best was when little old ladies used to come in and ask for fish and chips!

I know it must sound like a rubbish job to have, and in those days I only earned £2.50 an hour, but I had a fantastic time working there - despite my managers! I got on really well with all my other colleagues, I got to meet people every day (which I love), and I got to listen to whatever music I wanted all day long. I still miss those days sometimes, and the people I worked with. At the time I swore I could write a book on life at KFC as you could guarantee something funny would happen every day. I wish I had now, or at least taken some notes at the time because it was all a very long time ago now and I can only remember a few funny things.

One thing I remember, going back to the funny things that people used to ask for, is one time when we had a new food item on the menu. We always had to wear T shirts to advertise the new product, and we also had these square bits of cardboard hanging from the ceiling with a picture of the product on them. One day this bloke walks in and says “I’ll have one of those please” pointing at the piece of cardboard. My work colleague, who we will call Tom, instantly replied with “Certainly sir” and reached up and took the cardboard down and handed it to the customer!

There was also the time when I had a customer ask me for “three wings”. At that time the “hot wings” were a new product and being heavily advertised so I asked him “Would you like the ordinary wings, or the hot wings?” He replied with “I want three wings”. “Which wings would you like though? The hot wings, or the original recipe wings?”
“I want three wings”
“Well these are the hot wings” I said as I pointed to them “And these are the original recipe wings. Which ones would you like?”
“I want three wings”
This went on for an extremely long time, and in the end I just gave him “three wings” and I can’t even remember which ones. Thankfully he didn’t then complain that I had given him the wrong ones, which I was expecting. They were the only four words that he said though, so maybe he didn’t know how to complain.

Some of the funniest stories are the things we saw on the screen upstairs while we were having our break, via the CCTV camera. People seemed completely unaware that it was there. What made it even funnier though is that the person serving the customer would be completely unaware of what was going on over the other side of the counter. One time these two women came in, and while they waited for their food one put her arm around the other and smiled. “Ahh, that’s so sweet” I thought, watching from upstairs “you don’t often see two sisters show affection for each other like that”. How naïve could I possibly be? The next minute she had put her hand down the back of the other ones trousers! “Oh, maybe they’re not sisters then” I thought. And there was Tom, completely unaware of what was going on right in front of him!

The same sort of thing happened to me one night as well, when Tom was upstairs watching. A couple came in, one male, one female this time, and as I was busy packing their order the man got his “thing” out, nudged his girlfriend, and glanced downwards, indicating to her to look. She looked and then quickly turned away trying to pretend nothing was happening. He carried on nudging her and trying to get her to look, and then he started gyrating and “swinging” it about! And there I am in the background packing their food and wishing them farewell with “Enjoy your meal”, completely unaware of what had just happened! When something like this happened and one of us were lucky enough to witness it “live”, we would always come down stairs laughing and tell the others to rewind the tape and watch the last customer. They had no idea how much entertainment they created for us.

Sigh, they were the days.

Just as a side story, we had a piece of chicken left over tonight so I asked the girl behind the counter for a box to put it in to take home. We couldn’t figure out how to close the thing! The girl was laughing as I went back to the counter again, and she closed it for us. I said “It’s like something out of the Krypton factor, but I don’t suppose you know what that is, do you?” “No” she replied, shaking her head. “No, I expect you’re too young”. I then walked away, realising what I had just said and thinking, “How is it that the things we hated in older people when we were younger are the very things that we do when we’re older ourselves?”

Apparently there's one born every minute - I seem to meet one every minute

I can’t believe how many stupid people you can come across in one short journey to the local supermarket. I shouldn’t be surprised; the trip combines the two areas of life where most stupid people can be found – driving and shopping – although to be honest the shopping part was surprisingly lacking in stupid people tonight.

On my way there I approach a chicane in the road, with which I have “priority over traffic” – apparently there is no such thing as “right of way” any more. Whatever, they should still stop and let me through. You always get some bright spark who thinks he can “just nip through” before you reach it, but four cars in a row, forcing me to stop and wait for them?

I get to the end of that road and for once the adjoining road is completely clear for me to pull out into – except for one dithery person who I am waiting on to get out of my way and turn into the road that I am turning out of. This is a very wide junction so 1mph wasn’t entirely necessary.

So, once I finally get onto that road, further along I spot someone waiting at a junction on the left with no lights on, and it was dark. I flash them, and I don’t mean a flash flash, as in “After you”, I mean a flash flash flash flash flash flash flash, as in “It’s dark. Put your flippin’ lights on”. So he starts pulling out of the junction. A few more flashes and he gets the hint, so he’s not quite as stupid as the person (who I know but won’t name) who drove halfway across town with one of her doors open, with me following behind causing every epileptic in town to go into a seizure. I finally had to knock on her window when she had stopped at some traffic lights, which nearly gave her a heart attack. I find it very worrying that some drivers are so unaware of what is going on outside their own vehicle; if the person behind me got out of their car and started heading towards mine I think I would notice.

Anyway, I finally get to the supermarket car park and I’m halfway into a parking space when the person in the space next to it flings their car door wide open. Is it only me that this happens to, because this isn’t the first time? Sometimes the person will realise what they have done and pull the door in to allow you to park, but this person tonight?... There were plenty of spaces so I just parked somewhere else.

All of that in one 5 minute journey. Thank goodness I wasn’t going anywhere further away.

Pot calling the kettle black

An idiom meaning "to say something about someone else which is actually true of you yourself".

What the hell is wrong with me? Last week I managed to burn my face with a lasagne and tonight I just splashed mouthwash into my eye! And I'm writing a blog about the stupid things that other people do?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What did I do to be so black and blue?

Title of a song by Louis Armstrong 1955

Ok, the story of my black eye. I suppose I must have been about 12, and I went to school with this very black eye. I was late for school that day, which was nothing unusual for me, but it meant a 15 minute detention after school. I didn’t care; to be honest I would rather do an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day than get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Actually I had quite a vivid imagination when I was younger, and during my long walk to school I would often think up some amazing stories as to why I was late again, which helped the time pass much quicker during my boring 3 mile walk. I didn’t for one minute think that my teacher would actually believe that there was a massive crocodile blocking my path, but as I had to stand at her desk and explain my lateness to her in front of the whole class, sometimes I wanted to tell one of my stories just to make everyone laugh. I’d get to school feeling quite excited, thinking I had such a great story to tell, and then I’d walk in and sheepishly say “Sorry I’m late, I slept in”.

Anyway, this was one such day. I don’t recall any teachers asking me about my black eye during the course of the day, but they had obviously noticed it and discussed it amongst themselves in the staff room. By home time when I sat at the desk in my form room to start on my homework, I was approached by both my form teacher and my head of year, together. They sat down in front of me looking very serious and expressed concern about my black eye. They asked me how it happened. “My brother did it”, I said. “Why did he do that?” they asked. “Because I slapped him round the face” I replied. Looking relieved, and with a slight smile on their faces, they asked what had prompted me to slap him. “Because he pinched my bum”. Well by this time they were laughing, and they couldn’t resist asking for the full story, so I went on to explain that I was playing with a tennis ball (because that’s what 12 year olds did in those days), and just to irritate me (because that’s what older brothers do) he took the ball from me and held it up in the air so that I couldn’t reach. He was only sitting on a bench in the kitchen, but I was so short for my age I was still struggling to reach. There I was stretching and jumping trying to reach this ball and then to distract me further he pinched my bum. I automatically slapped his face without thinking, and then as quick as a flash he punched me in the eye. Shaking their heads and laughing the teachers got up to leave me to do my homework.

Incidentally, I didn't get anyone asking me about my burn.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Burn baby burn...

A line from "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps 1976

Today Mr Man has decided that he would like us to go out for dinner. I know, that’s so sweet isn’t it? And I should be so pleased especially as it means I won’t have to cook. But I have a huge burn on my face. Ok, it’s not huge, but it is horrendous looking. And there ain't no makeup on this earth that's gonna hide this. It’s all scabby at the side of my mouth where my skin fell off, and people will think that he’s been hitting me again. Hahaha, that “again” bit is a joke. I couldn’t have wished for a milder bloke. In fact when I shout at him I have to look away because he just laughs and it makes me laugh as well. It’s very difficult to stay angry at him.

So anyway, this burn… It was a couple of nights ago. I really was so tired that I fell asleep in the chair – virtually unheard of. I sleep a lot, but never in the chair. So it was microwave dinners all round that night. Mr Man opted for his usual curry, and I had a lasagne. He worries so much about me when I’m in the kitchen, so as I took the piping hot food out of the microwave he warned “Be careful”, “I’m being careful” came my usual reply.

You’re probably wondering how on earth I managed to burn my face with it. Well, as I scooped the lasagne out of the dish and onto my plate, some of the sauce spilled out onto my finger. It was so hot, and my immediate reaction was to lick it off quickly. Somehow I managed to flick this piping hot sauce onto my face and burn my skin off. Nice.

The funny thing is that it was the burn on my finger that seemed to hurt the most, even though I wasn’t even left with a blister. The burn on my face was sore, but I hardly noticed it as I’ve been so used to feeling soreness on my face for the past 10 years, due to an allergy that has only just been brought under control. My friend was shocked when she saw my burn and I told her that it’s no sorer than my nettle rash used to be. She said “Really? That just looked like spots” – yes, I used to get that a lot from people, which was rather irritating.

So there you are. That’s the story of my burn. I’m sure I won’t be scarred for life but I can assure you that lasagne will be off the menu for a while. I’ll let you know if I get any well meaning do-gooders take me to one side to ask me what happened. Oh, that reminds me of the time I had to go to school with a black eye…

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Getting pulled

Unfortunately not the kind you're probably thinking.

Whilst I’m on the subject of driving (and don’t for one minute presume that I am finished with the subject) I came across this post today. It brought to mind the times that I have been pulled over by the police myself. It feels like it has happened loads of times, but when I think about it it’s probably only ever happened to me twice. I don't remember feeling nervous on either occasion, because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong.

One time I was driving home at night from the hospital which was in the next town. There was a car driving so close behind me that all I could see were the headlights. I was really annoyed because for a start I hate it when people drive so close behind me – it’s stupid, and it’s dangerous – but also I felt like the other driver was trying to push me to drive faster all the time. As previously mentioned, the route home takes me through several changes of speed limits, and the car I had at the time (Honda Legend) had fast acceleration - so I used it. Each time I made sure I stuck to whatever the limit was; not that I wouldn’t normally, but I really wanted to make the point to this idiot that I was quite capable of going faster if I wanted to, I just didn't want to, and he wasn’t going to intimidate me into breaking the law. I was really surprised that he was actually able to keep up, because previously when I have had a "boy racer" pushing me from behind to go faster, and then I've reached a single carriageway and hit the accelerator, the car behind has become nothing more than a speck in the rear view mirror. It’s only when I went round a roundabout that I got a glimpse of the car behind and saw that it was a police car! A short while later the officer pulled me over. It was very strange as all he did was look over the car with his torch and then send me on my way.

Now, my husband has been pulled over loads of times. He used to work for Royal Mail which meant leaving for work anytime between 3am and 5am, and for some reason the police in our area felt that driving around at that time of the morning was “suspicious”. Each time that he was pulled over he was asked to produce his documents – his driving licence, certificate of insurance, and MOT. That’s why it seemed so strange when the officer that pulled me over didn’t ask for any of those things. Maybe he just liked my car and wanted to have a closer look?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Driving me mad - the return of the revenge of part two strikes back again, the sequel

I’ve thought many times about writing a book about the stupid things that people do on the roads. During the total 12 months that my husband was in hospital I spent a lot of time driving to and from there, sometimes as often as 4 times a day, and I drove along many different types of roads. Most people have been "cut up" on the road at some point, but when you spend that amount of time driving it’s amazing the stupid things that you see almost on a daily basis. I started putting these people into categories.

One speed wonders
These people tend to go at the same speed no matter what road they are travelling on. Along my route the roads would have various speed limits, but these people always drive at the same speed. This means that if they are travelling along a road with a limit of 60mph they will quite happily chug along at 40mph, which then becomes extremely frustrating for us law abiding citizens driving behind them, when we see a 30 sign and slow down – but these people don’t. You can almost imagine them blowing a raspberry through the back window, knowing that they have made you late for an appointment, as they speed off into the distance.

The camera shy
How people react to speed cameras is one thing that I don’t understand. Even drivers who manage to drive quite sensibly at other times seem to go all silly as soon as they see one. There’s a particular camera in our area that I’m thinking of, where the limit is 40mph. I can’t believe the amount of people who reduce their speed to 30 or even 20mph as they approach this camera, even when it’s facing the other way, and then as they pass it they promptly increase their speed to 60 even though the limit is still 40. It’s almost like they’re frightened that it’s going to bite them, so they approach it really cautiously, and then once they’re safely past they speed up to get away before it catches them. It’s most bizarre behaviour, as the camera will only “clock” you if you’re actually breaking the speed limit – that’s what they’re for. If people didn’t break speed limits they would have no reason to fear these cameras at all. Contrary to popular belief I really don’t think that these cameras are there to “catch people out” or to “make money”, if they were then they wouldn’t be big yellow things that are clearly visible to everyone, with a warning sign before you even approach it.

Village people
Groan. Village people. Well, these people always drive incredibly slowly wherever they are going. I have no idea why, unless it’s because they’re used to the speed of a tractor, I don’t know. I always know when I’m behind one of the village people though. You can guarantee, I’ll be driving along thinking “This is one of the village people” and then sure enough, when we reach the “village junction” they’ll turn off. I must have super mental powers.

You’re probably thinking by now that it seems to be every time a person drives slowly that it annoys me, but it’s not really the speed, it’s the drivers’ stupidity. I have to say, I have all the patience in the world for HGV drivers and learner drivers. The former have no choice but to drive slowly, and the latter – well, I remember those days clearly, and everyone has to start somewhere. It annoys me just as much when people go faster than the speed limit, as you can see from my previous post on the subject. I just wish people would obey traffic laws; after all they are there for a reason. I suppose everyone has those days when their mind is on something else and they don’t realise that the speed limit has changed on the road, or they forget to indicate, or they’re in the wrong lane, or whatever. I should know; I have plenty of those days myself. But you can tell when someone is either determined to break the laws or they’re just too “dithery” to even have a licence.

To be honest I’m much more patient than I used to be. My brother used to laugh at my constant running commentary on what everyone else was doing wrong, but these days I’m quite used to people pulling out in front of me, and not indicating until they’re halfway round a corner, so a mumbled “After you then”, or “An indicator would have been useful” is sufficient for me to make my point these days. (I can hear the people who know me well - and especially those who have been a passenger in my car - laughing hysterically) Okay, I try to be more patient than I used to be.

For some reason there was a phase when old male drivers would make a driving mistake and then shake their head at me as if I had done something wrong, which infuriated me so much, and it seemed to happen on a daily basis for a while. Yes, I was extremely tempted to either ram them with my car or follow them home and knock them out. But I’m not a maniac – honest. I’ve only knocked down a telegraph poll once.

Monday, September 11, 2006


My friend has just returned from Manchester where she was visiting her brother. She commented on how many teenagers were wearing tags in that area - it almost seems to be a fashion accessory. Obviously a high percentage of youths in that area commit crimes, and we joked about what a good idea it would be if all children were tagged at birth. It wouldn’t be a bad idea though would it? Just think of the crime that would be prevented in the first place. I suspect that most of the crimes committed by youths are when they’re with their peers rather than when they’re alone. Where’s the thrill in breaking the law if there is no one to share it with? So if they’re all home by say 8pm - voila! No more street gangs terrorising the neighbourhood. No more kids trying to get into night clubs when their only 14. No more gathering round a friends house to get drunk and smoke pot, and lets face it, that would be boring on your own too (not that I would know of course). And I suspect there would be a huge decrease in under age sex and teenage pregnancies as well.

It's not just teenagers that are a problem though. I spoke to my Mum on the phone over the weekend and she told me that one of my nieces (age 11) and two of my nephews (7 and 8) had gone missing that afternoon for nearly 3 hours, and ten police officers had been out looking for them. Ten! What a waste of resources for basically disobedient children who aren’t where they say they’ll be and don’t come home on time. One police officer was just calling for a helicopter when my niece arrived home. You see? Just tag them with some kind of tracking device and you’ll never lose your kids ever again (even if you’re trying to).

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I fed a homeless person today. I'm not saying that so that you all think I'm wonderful; it actually makes me feel quite crappy. Let me explain.

I was sitting on a bench in town, eating my hotdog (don't tell my slimming club leader), and this lad comes along and mumbles something to me. I asked him to repeat what he had said, so bowing his head towards me slightly and looking at my hotdog he repeated "Can you spare any change so that I can get something to eat?" I paused for a moment, not knowing what to say. I don't agree with lying, and I knew I had some change. But like everywhere else I suspect, we have a big drug problem in our town, and I can't possibly know if he is genuine or not.

I told him I don't give change to people I don't know. He gave a slightly pained expression, closing his eyes, holding his tummy, and tilting his head backwards. "Please" he begged. “Are you hungry?” I asked, and he nodded. “I’ll buy you something to eat if you’re hungry, but I’m sorry, I don’t give money to people I don’t know”. He seemed happy with that, saying “I totally respect that”. So off we walked to the hotdog stand, and I bought him a hotdog (with cheese at his request!) and a can of drink too. I made a joke about losing my seat on the bench, and then we parted company.

I can’t imagine how embarrassing it must feel to have to ask someone to give you the money to feed yourself. It was obviously hard enough for him the first time round, and then I made him repeat it. Then, it was obvious that I was buying the food for him, humiliating the boy even further. I couldn’t even give him the dignity of being able to buy it himself.

I usually avoid homeless people like the plague, but that’s only because of a bad experience I once had. A girl was sitting in the street in town, and it was late in the year, so it was dark although it wasn’t late. She was asking for money as people walked by, so I asked her if she wanted something to eat. Off I went and bought her something, and then we sat on the bench and chatted for a while. She admitted that she had used drugs before, and wasn’t offended that I offered to buy her food instead of giving her money. I suspect that the genuine cases usually aren’t. Then this big scary looking bloke came along and started shouting at her, saying that she had stolen his phone. It seemed to go on forever, and I didn’t know what to do. I was just sitting there, right in the middle of it, and I thought “How can I just walk away while this man is being so threatening towards her?” I spoke up to try to calm the bloke down, which was totally the wrong thing to do, and he started shouting at me as well, and accusing me of being a “smack head”. The situation totally shook me up, especially as I was feeling rather fragile at the time anyway, and I made my excuses and left. For a long time after that I suffered from anxiety attacks each time I went into town, especially if a stranger tried to approach me.

Homeless people seem different to how they used to be. Maybe it’s always been this way in bigger towns and cities, I don’t know, but years ago in our town homeless people seemed to be smelly old men wearing long coats and fingerless gloves, who maybe smoked roll-ups. These days you can’t tell them apart from any other teenager hanging around in the town centre. But then I’m not sure if these truly are homeless people, or just beggars. I don’t remember seeing homeless people actually begging before, although I remember seeing homeless people. They always used to just look through bins, although I am in no way suggesting that this is how a person should live.

One bloke in particular that I remember, always used to come into KFC when I worked there, when it was cold and dark, just for somewhere to keep warm. He’d buy a cup of tea, and go and sit in the corner out of the way. We always used to get a free dinner at KFC, which I didn’t always use, so I would put a bit of dinner on a tray for him and take it over. Again, I’m not blowing my own trumpet, the point I’m making is that he never took that for granted. He didn’t start coming in every night thinking he would get a free meal, and when he did come in he never asked for it, he would just ask for his normal cup of tea, and he would always pay for it.

On the other hand, we used to get another old lady come in, who I don’t think was actually homeless, but she was scruffy looking, and she used to buy a bag of fries and then ask you to slip some chicken in there for her. I would always apologise and say no, explaining that the chicken pieces are actually counted, so I couldn’t get away with it. It never stopped her asking though, and she was very persistent. But I knew that if I started giving it to her she would be coming in all the time for it. She should have gone to a chip shop instead; they’re much better value for money.

As I said, in the past most homeless people never seemed to expect help from others. There was a lady that my Mum met once, who said she had made herself voluntarily homeless. She said she was going to be a missionary in China, and that living homeless was part of her training. I don't know if that is true or not, or if she was simply embarrassed by her current situation. My Mum said she seemed well educated, and was well spoken. Anyway, one night she was outside a shop in the area where my Mum lived at the time, looking through a bin for something to eat. It was a cold night, with snow on the ground, and all she had on her feet were newspapers and carrier bags that she had wrapped around them. Some lads started throwing stones and snow balls at her, so my Mum gave them a telling off and checked that the girl was alright. My Mum asked where she would sleep that night, and the girl explained that she would just find a bus shelter somewhere. My Mum insisted that the girl spent the night at her house, saying that if she didn’t she would be worrying about her all night. The girl finally agreed, although she didn’t want to go; she kept saying how smelly and dirty she was and that she didn’t want to be any trouble. She said “Maybe I could just sleep in your shed?”. Realising that this was the only way she was going to get her out of the snow, my Mum agreed – and it wasn’t until they got to my Mums house that she told the girl that she doesn’t have a shed! My Mum offered her some shoes, but she wouldn't accept them, and she wouldn't accept any food to eat, only a cup of Bovril. She insisted that she didn't want to be any trouble, and she didn't want to go into the living room because she felt she was too smelly and dirty. My Mum offered her a bed for the night, but she insisted on sleeping in the hallway by the front door. She was very polite and appreciative, and left very quietly early the next morning.

I wish I had my Mums courage to show love for people in this way, but how do you know you’re not going to get that big scary bloke from town hammering on your door, accusing you of being a “smack head” and demanding his mobile phone back? I have nothing against homeless people, and I hope that my comments haven’t come across in a derogatory or stereotypical way at all. I don’t pretend to understand the issues surrounding homelessness; I just wish it didn’t exist.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Driving me mad

Maniac drivers have prompted this post today.

In the town we live in we have road bumps along just about every road. They ruin your car suspension, knock your tracking out, and if you've got a bad back you're definitely better off living somewhere else. They have these bumps, and the 20mph speed limit to accompany it, on roads where children don't even live let alone play. But actually right from the start my husband and I have said that if there is one road in our whole town that should have road bumps, it's ours. We live in a long straight road, with children living at nearly every house, two schools, and a history of children being run over. Typically our road must be one of the last ones in the town to get road bumps put in it.

Eventually the council decided to put bumps and crossings in our road, starting at the Catholic School end of the road, where mainly older people occupy the houses and the children arrive on coaches from out of town. They didn't progress any further along the road for ages, after changing the priority of traffic so that a "T" junction became a bend in the road, nicely separating the row of privately owned houses occupied by the older generation from the row of council houses filled with children of disfunctional families. I'm surprised they didn't also change the name of each end of the road to "Upper" and "Lower" to segregate them even further. And that was it. They did no more work for ages. Our end of the road where the local children live, play, and go to school was still used as a race track.

One day I was driving down our road towards my house when the sight before me threw me into a complete state of panic. Imagine that your spouse is in a very fragile state of mind, and you arrive home one day to see an ambulance on your doorstep, with flashing lights and everything. I slammed on my breaks and ran over to the scene, leaving the engine running, the door wide open, and my handbag in the car. As awful as it sounds, I can't tell you how relieved I was when I realized some poor kid had been run over and had his leg broken. I suppose it's then that the council decided it would be a good idea to put bumps and crossings in this end of the road too. We now have a crossing right outside our house (we live next door to the school gates), and at night the area is very well lit, which is all good.

However, I still don't understand why the road bumps stop a long way before you reach this crossing (which is flat, not raised like it is at the other end of the road) and start again a long way after it, just before you reach the end of the road. This means that maniacs still accelerate past our house at well over 30mph, although the speed limit is now 20mph. They've made our end of the road even better for these amateur racing drivers by putting railings along both sides of the road, so that no one can park there, thus keeping their "track" free of obstructions.

I'm convinced that the people who make these decisions can't possibly live in this town, or even on this planet. Another classic example is the main road that runs through our town centre, which is obviously very busy, being changed into a single lane of one way traffic. It also has several sets of traffic lights along it, so quite often there is a row of traffic at a complete standstill. Can you imagine what happens when an emergency service vehicle tries to get through?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Voile update

Well I just rang the shop that I got my Voiles from, and they actually have another of the correct length in stock! The lady on the phone even took it out of the packaging and measured it for me to make sure, without any complaining.

Now, the question is: Do I take down this Voile that is too long, and leave a huge gap at the window for everyone to see in through, so that I can just make a simple exchange at the shop? Or do I collect the other Voile first, and then take this one back later, meaning in total I would have had to have made five trips for these blinkin' Voiles?

Groan. I can't bear the thought of either.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The final curtain

I ordered new Voiles for our living room last week. After looking at the same dreary net curtains for 9 years I thought it was time for a change. My husband doesn't like change, but I tried to explain to him that although I'm not one who feels the need to have the latest fashions in home furnishings, you can be so out of fashion that you actually start drawing attention to yourself. Apart from that, I was just sick of the sight of them. Then he said "You've been looking at me for longer than that, are you sick of the sight of me as well?"

Anyway, I digress. I bought some Voiles the other week, but of course having a memory that is so poor that it rivals only with my husbands (he can't even remember that I changed the curtains in another room only two months ago), I forgot to take the measurements with me. Actually, in my defense, I did make a pretty good guess, only the measurement written on the packaging which I thought was the length turned out to be the width. So of course I had to make a second trip. And due to the fact that they didn't have the length I required in stock, I had to order them, and then make a third trip to collect them once they were in.

I collected them yesterday, and so today I got on with the jolly job of putting them up. I needed three Voiles as we have a bay window with three sections. Everything was going fine until I put up the third Voile. "Oh, I don't believe it". Hubby then said to me "Oh, did you pick up the wrong length?", "No, they gave me the wrong length". I love how he always assumes the mistake was mine. I tried to phone them, not really knowing what time they close on a Saturday, but there was no reply, so I guessed that meant they were closed. Good job I rang, because I wouldn't have been overly impressed if I had made a forth trip to find them closed.

This does however mean that I am now stuck with the wrong length until Monday when they will be open again. (Actually, I wonder if they're open on a Sunday? I'll give them a ring tomorrow and see.) As it turns out, the person who collected my Voiles from the stock room and gave them to me isn't as stupid as I thought - it's the packaging that was wrong. Thankfully that third Voile is too long and not too short, so I've decided to leave it up until I have a replacement, and at least it's not noticeable from outside. Well, I couldn't have two Voiles up with one dreary net that's 9 years old could I? (Just a side point, I have actually washed them during those 9 years, in case you were wondering) So, what's the odds on me now having to order a forth Voile, and wait another week for it?

All this "window" stuff reminds me of when we first moved in. We wanted a curtain rail to go round the bay window, but had no idea what length to buy. Someone my husband worked with just lived up the road from us, in a house of the same design, so hubby thought he would just go and ask him what length he bought. "Eight foot" he said. So off went hubby and bought an eight foot long curtain rail, and came home to fit it. When he put it up though there was a foot long gap at both ends. He went back to his work mate - "I thought you said you bought an eight foot long rail?". "I did" came the reply. "Well I just put mine up and there's a foot long gap at either end". "Yeah" he said, "mines like that as well".

Friday, September 01, 2006

Shops and me

You know what, shops and me just don't mix. I told you that I don't do shopping. But my venture into town today has given me something else to moan about at least - you lucky people.

I went into a well known shop today that sells magazines and books, and incidentally I asked for fellow blogger Tom Reynolds book "Blood, Sweat & Tea" but they didn't have it in stock so I think I'll just order it online. Anyway that's a side issue, the point is I went in there for a couple of monthly magazines for my husband. One of which was missing the DVD on the front, and it was the last issue, and the other one they only had Octobers issue. I asked them about this and the lady politely explained that once the new issue comes in, the "old" ones get sent back to the publishers. She said the October issue came in during August...

(That quietness that you are now experiencing is known as the "calm before the storm")





It's the 1st of September for goodness sake and the September issue is out of date??? I'd understand it if it was the middle of September but it's the 1st of September, and these magazines went out of date in the middle of August???

I noticed some 2007 calendars while I was standing there and I asked the woman if she thought I should buy one in case they sell out before the end of October. I mean, it's the 1st of September. Why are they selling calendars for the following year on the 1st of September? We still have a whole 4 months of this year left. That's a third of a year.

So basically they didn't have the book I wanted, and they didn't have either of the magazines I came in for, but they had a calendar that doesn't start for another third of a year. I could have gone to the charity shop for one of those, and maybe while I was there I might have found one of those out of date magazines I was looking for.



Ok, you can come out now, the storm has passed. But I told you I don't do shopping.