Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bins

I might have mentioned before that I am a tad OCD. This can be a heavy burden to carry. Today, the job most on my mind is to clean and disinfect the wheely bin. It was emptied yesterday and I brought it back into the garage but noticed it was a bit stinky. A weird conversation then ensued with my online friend Tony about bagging up rubbish and that inspired today’s whinge.

I use wheely bin liners. These are great inventions which usually protect the bin from direct contact with rubbish. My town has a really good recycling system so only the very smallest amount of ‘stuff’ makes its way into the general rubbish bin. It is usually just peelings (we must get a compost bin) and left-over food. I hate left-over food as I think we waste so much of it these days but when looking after an elderly person and occasionally two little boys, there tends to be a fair amount of uneaten food to dispose of.  Until recently, the wheely bin liners have done their job well but I have noticed recently that they seem smaller. No matter how much I pull and tug, the top edge will not go round the lip of the bin, so one corner is always off. Consequently when you throw the rubbish in, the corner collapses and stray food goes down the gap. I take extra care to hit the liner but that Mr. Whinge…..well, he is NOT OCD so he just aims, fires then walks away.

So I blame the wheely bin liner makers for the fact that today I’ll be donning the yellow rubber gloves, arming myself with Zoflora and using the sweeping brush to get at the odds and ends festering in the bottom of the bin. 

Then I’ll be happy, knowing that when I lift the lid, it will smell of Carnations or Sweet Peas instead of just plain stinky.

Roadworks

Just a very short whinge today. What can be more annoying than driving somewhere and coming across roadworks which stretch mile after mile, but with nobody actually working? 

What’s that all about?

Shut Up!

One of my major whinges happens when we go to the cinema or theatre. It costs a fair amount to do either these days so the last thing you need is people nearby having a good old chat all the way through the film or production. Surely if you want to chat, you should just go to a bar or coffee shop and chat there? I assume you buy a ticket because you want to see a show, a performer or a film so why chatter to your friend all the way through. If it is a concert, I think it is really disrespectful to the performer to talk as they work.

So how do people react? Some will actually tell the natterers to shut up. This will often result in a short expletive response. Others just ‘Shhhhh!’ loudly in the dark. Most just quietly grumble to themselves and say nothing.

There are other annoyances too. The consistent sweetie packet crackler, the person who sits in the middle of the row even though they have a weak bladder, the person who puts their feet on the back of your seat, the people in front who insist on standing up during the performance so you have to stand up then the people behind you have to stand up – a Mexican wave of annoyance.

I once went to a lovely concert where there were four cabin crew sitting in front of us. I learned so much about where they had been, what their shifts were for the following week, who had been their most difficult customers last week and what they had done about them, all the latest gossip from work, what they’d done the night before and a lot more. They ruined the night for me as they were a constant distraction. I really wondered why they had paid £25 a ticket to attend when they could have saved their money and gone to a bar for a good chat instead?

Of course, going to the bar can be difficult for chatting when the music is playing so loudly that you can’t hear each other talk……but that’s a whole other whinge!

Trains

 

Image

A photo from the train one early morning

 

A couple of years ago I had a job which meant a lot of travelling. The organisation I worked for had to be mindful of carbon footprint and so the journey from the north east to London for meetings had to be done by train. Consequently, I spent quite some time:

  • calculating efficient journeys
  • travelling to stations
  • finding and paying ridiculous money to park my car
  • buying Hazelnut Lattes at Costa
  • waiting on cold platforms at 6:30am
  • confronting people sitting in my reserved seat
  • sitting uncomfortably with my feet tucked under the seat so as not to touch the person opposite’s feet
  • returning home in the dark

To book a ticket to London and to arrive by 9:30 cost around £300 each time. To fly from Newcastle and use the Stansted Express was about one third of the price. However, the company didn’t want us to fly because of their carbon footprint. Sometimes a First Class ticket would be cheaper. But we couldn’t use First Class as the company had to be accountable to the public and it didn’t look good sending employees First Class.

London was pretty straightforward. Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham not quite so. And trips to Warwick University were even more complicated. I would have preferred to drive. I like driving. I like the fact that you aren’t carrying heavy bags up and down stairs, finding safe storage on the train and that you can stop for a coffee or a wee whenever you like. But…….carbon footprint and Health and Safety said ‘NO!’.

I became an expert at not having a wee for hours on end. Have you ever used a train toilet?? I also learned what it was like to have a meeting finish early and get an earlier train where I had no reserved seat. I once spent 3 hours squeezed in a corridor with a man’s sweaty armpit in my face.

Then there were cancellations and delays. Leaves on the line. The wrong sort of snow. Flooding. Signal failure. Cable theft. The list of whinges goes on and on.

I miss those days. I loved that job. I loved my colleagues. But I don’t miss the trains at all.

My Dog’s a Fake!

This afternoon, my dog went out in the garden. I then saw her sitting outside the French doors waiting to come in. I opened the door and she staggered back into the house, holding her front paw up. She was unable to put it on the ground and winced when we tried to examine it. Puzzled, but concerned, we rang the vet who asked us to bring her immediately. She limped in looking very sorry for herself. He examined her and couldn’t find anything untoward so thought maybe she had pulled a ligament and prescribed her some anti-inflammatories. We paid £36. She limped back to the car and as my husband drove her home, she lay quietly, looking up with those sad puppy-dog eyes.

They pulled up on the drive and he opened the door to let her out. Reaching out to gather her up, she shot through his waiting arms and galloped off into the house – no trace of a limp at all. 

Why is it that our pets can make us look really foolish? I’m guessing that if a dog can play a joke, we’ve definitely been ‘had’ today.

Compensation Culture

I sometimes feel that the world has gone mad. Yesterday I mentioned selfishness, greed and personal gain and one manifestation of that is the current compensation culture in society. It seems that people no longer accept responsibility for their own mistakes but think that the way forward is to claim compensation from someone else instead.

Take the advert we are subjected to on TV. A woman carrying a bag down the street fails to notice an uneven paving stone, catches the toe of her shoe and falls over. In my youth, my mother would have told me to get up, stop crying and get on down to A&E to have my injury looked at, telling me ‘You should watch where you’re going!’  Nowadays, Miss Highheels will put a claim in to the local Council for damages, laying on thick the loss of time and money, the mental torture her injury has put her through and the cost of the Jimmy Choos that were ruined. And WE, dear Council Tax Payers, are footing the bill. (No pun intended).

I am not saying that ALL compensation claims are wrong. I myself have applied, on my father’s behalf, for a reimbursement of nursing home fees which I believe were taken in error ten years ago when the criteria for care were not applied as rigorously as they should have been. In the case of a car accident where the other driver was drunk or on drugs or drove in a dangerous manner, I do believe that a person’s injuries should be compensated. In a birth accident where someone was culpable and a child is left with a disability for life, the parents should receive compensation for their lifetime commitment to caring for that child. Cases like that are deserving.

Once, in school, on an icy winter’s day, the children were sliding across the yard on the ice. Walkways had been salted by the Caretaker so that children could safely make their way around the outside areas. One of the sliding girls fell and broke her wrist. Her mother made a huge fuss, saying that she would be complaining to the Local Authority and claiming compensation. Would my mother have done this? You bet she wouldn’t!

We have become too accustomed to blaming others for our own carelessness. In France, you’d be lucky to find a decent pavement in most towns. I wonder if they get lots of compensation claims for trips and falls? Some of the cases we hear are absurd and just examples of how personal greed has led to a total loss of people taking responsibility for the own actions and mistakes.

Spirit

My lovely friend Fiona mentioned something on Facebook yesterday and it set me thinking. 

I was born in the 1950s, was a young child in the 60s and a teenager / young adult in the 70s. They were great times to live through. I had a happy childhood (although I think I was a bit weird) and as an only child I was well-fed and felt secure in the knowledge that I would reach adulthood pretty much unscathed. As a student I did what students did and took part in protests about grants etc. As a young teacher, I protested again as harmful changes to education were threatened and pay and pensions eroded. I joined a union as soon as I began teaching and in those days it felt good to have someone on your side, fighting for better pay and conditions and there if you needed advice.

Where is all this leading? I am shocked that these days, when terrible injustices are being wrought upon people, we just lie down and take it. The Unions have little or no effect and people generally just grumble quietly to each other or set up a petition online. It wouldn’t happen in other European countries. Those people make their voices heard by getting out there in the streets, organising rallies, marching with one voice. 

Our governments just seem to do whatever they please and we all just sit back and take it without a fight. I am not targeting one particular party here either. My respect for all parties has been sent plummeting down to nothing by years of greed, lies, immorality, cheating, tax-dodging and looking for personal gain by the very people we are supposed to have elected democratically to be our representatives and role models.

I am not advocating violence or destruction. That is not my way at all. But I despair at the lack of backbone and spirit that seems to be part of our modern society. Sadly I can’t see it getting any better either as our next generation go through an education system which will ensure that they know every King and Queen of England and the dates of their reigns but that can’t solve problems, take risks, communicate eloquently or be creative and innovative.

It’s no good just depending on the few to shout for us – the Owen Joneses and Tom Watsons of the world. If we don’t shout out, nobody will listen. 

Toilet roll

Love it or hate it, toilet roll is pretty important in our lives. Yet who would think it can be such a problematic thing?

Firstly, there’s the big debate as to whether you have it rolling out from the front or the back of your toilet roll holder. Personally I’m a ‘front’ type of gal so when I go to other people’s houses it feels odd to see it coming from the back. I resist the urge to change it on their behalf though. Most of the time. 

Next we have quality. There are some things I just don’t scrimp on. Toilet roll is one of those things. I have to have good quality – even though my daughter, who works for the local water company, tells me that it is not good for the drains as it doesn’t break down easily. (Sorry @loveyourdrain on Twitter, whose name is Dwaine Pipe and has my favourite radio ad, the words of which are ‘Only toilet paper, pee and poo go down the loo. Inspired).   But who wants flimsy, feeble toilet roll (I won’t go into the reasons here).

I am old enough to remember Izal. They had it at my Secondary School. It was dreadful stuff like tracing paper impregnated with some stinky disinfectant type chemical.  Even more bizarre, I often stayed with my grandmother as a little girl and she told me that they used to rip up newspaper into squares and put them on a hook in the ‘lavvy’ (which of course was across the yard outside). Now this seems a rather satisfactory use for modern day newspapers. We aren’t allowed to wrap our fish and chips up with them any more (health and safety) so using them as toilet paper seems curiously satisfying.  She also told me that they would buy oranges with the paper round them and flatten and smooth this paper to use in the toilet. I have incredibly fond memories of my Grandma and sights and sounds will often take me back to the time I spent with her. She kept a paraffin lamp in the outside toilet to prevent it freezing in the winter. The smell of paraffin burning takes me back to that place. Anyway, I digress…

Now we seem to have another raging debate, perpetrated by a toilet roll manufacturer, as to whether you ‘scrunch’ or ‘fold’. I’m not revealing my preference here though bearing in mind my previous references to OCD you will be able to guess accurately.

Who would have thought that a simple roll of paper could cause such aggravation?

Socks

Socks come in pairs. We wear them (most of us) as a pair and then put them in the washing basket (or, in the case of Mr. Whinge, do a stamping bull act on the bedroom floor and just leave them there). Next they go in the washer and from there they go into the tumble drier. The next step is to collect everything from the tumble drier and take them to the ironing board. Ah, yes, well I did mention earlier that I’m ever so slightly OCD, didn’t I? I do iron socks – nice and flat just like when you buy them – and pair them up again before putting them back in the drawer.

So why is there always an odd one left over? Why does its partner never reappear in the next wash load, but leave the odd sock to lurk in a lonely manner at the back of the drawer to be joined by another different odd one the following week? I am thinking of taking up making sock puppets from all these odd socks, but where is the mysterious place where the other halves go?

Does anyone know?

Food

Why is it that all the foods we like most are the ones that are the worst for our health?

I love bread, butter, chocolate, biscuits, sweets and cake. I could literally snack on these things all day long. I would be quite happy not to ever have a proper meal again. I do know though that my body needs those good things like vegetables and fruit. So, I do have a proper lunch and dinner each day under suffrance.

Imagine if the tables were turned and you HAD to eat cake and chocolate every day to stay healthy. What a lovely world that would be. I wouldn’t have to sneak into the kitchen and steal biscuits where my husband couldn’t see me or hide chocolate in places where only I know. I could brag that I get my five a day very easily and tweet my ‘healthy eating’ out to the whole world.

Oh well……it’s a nice dream.