Monthly Archives: April 2013

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.

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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.

Cats

I love cats. I have experimented with being a dog owner but overall I still prefer cats. I love their soft coats, their big eyes, their independent and unpredictable natures and the way you feel so calm when they snuggle up on your knee. They don’t ask a lot. A warm bed, two little meals a day, a cuddle from time to time and regular trips to the vet to keep them in good health.

But there is a downside. They may seem like like your best friend. They rub against your leg as if to say ‘I love you’. But as soon as they are out of your sight they become creatures of the night, up to no good and looking for any way to test you to the limit. I have many stories to tell – the night mine tried to get a fully-grown female pheasant through the catflap, the afternoon when he dropped something on my knee as I sat organising exam papers on the floor. I flicked it off my knee only to recoil in horror as I realised it was a mouse’s head. So many stories and so little time.

But the one thing that really gets to me more than any other is the ability of the cat to vomit at will. In my last house we actually dispensed with carpets so that the house was easy to clean and very hygienic. We only kept carpet in the bedroom. But no matter how you plan, why is it that the cat will always vomit in the most difficult places to clean? My cat’s favourite places are over the back of the sofa, over the edge of the utility room shelf where he sleeps (this wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t mean a stream down the front of the washer, over the control panel knobs and the washer door) and on any floor with a light-coloured carpet.

To be fair, they generally give you notice. The sound of a retching cat is pretty distinctive and will give you about 15 seconds’ notice to leap off your chair, get to him and usher him to a safe place. Then you only have the cleaning up to do. However, they learn to be quite sneaky so that you don’t hear and then you get a lovely surprise when you find the little gift with your bare foot.

Yes, I love cats.