Monthly Archives: May 2013

Little Boys

I am the proud grandma of two gorgeous, little boys. I would walk on hot coals for them. I’d sacrifice my life for them. They are the two most amazing, little human beings. But they are also a revelation after having two daughters.

Little girls seem so easy by comparison. They sit nicely and play quietly. They don’t like getting dirty. But boys…..oh my. The first thing you notice with boys is their noise level. Everything is accompanied by noise – bang, boom, smash, crash – as they race around at a mad rate being Ben 10, Transformers, Lightning McQueen or – the latest obsession – Banana Man. Next is their obsession with bodily functions. Sentences end in ‘poo pants’ or ‘wee wee’. They furtively poke their noses and then eat the resulting produce. They can’t resist having a bit of a fumble with their tackle. But of all the things that make them different, it’s the violence and aggression that surprise me most. My daughter and I both have a hatred of guns and vowed that the children would not be given toy guns in any form. Well, that was a waste of time. They make Lego guns, swords and missiles. They can convert a cardboard tube from the centre of a kitchen roll into a weapon of mass destruction. They can’t resist kicking and punching things – and this sometimes includes each other.

Now I don’t want you to think that my grandchildren are out of control and utterly mad. This is certainly not the case. I regularly get little notes with ‘I luv you’ written on and get the most amazing cuddles. They are so loving and say the most beautiful things. They are clever and wise beyond their years. But the point I’m making is that boys are most definitely different to girls. 

My experience may not be the same as yours. I am sure that there are boys out there who do not seem to have these traits and some of you might have girls who are noisy and boisterous. It does make me question nature / nurture theories though. Is it possible that boys are just born with the need to pick their noses, not flush the toilet and call their friends ‘Poo Pants’?

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Loans

It can’t have escaped your notice that there are so many so-called ‘Pay Day Loan’ companies around at the moment. I have been lucky throughout my life that I have never had to turn to a company like this and feel terribly sorry for anyone who finds themselves in that position. I can’t help feeling that there must be a better solution than borrowing from a company which charges an APR of 4214% (Wonga), 1940% (Liquid Loans), or 1734% (Quick Quid).

Even more annoying, I object to football clubs allowing sponsorship from these companies and gambling companies. I spent a substantial part of my teaching time trying to help young people understand how to manage their money. They then go to a match to see blatant recommendation of such businesses. 

I understand that the draw of sponsorship from such companies must be huge, but sometimes I think we just have to say ‘No’ to make the point that we think it unacceptable.

I am proud to say that one of my twitter friends was approached by such a company yesterday and did say ‘no’ even though it lost him one project. It takes guts to do such a thing but my respect for him (which was high on the scale anyway) was boosted even further by his refusal to take on that job. In my eyes, he is a hero and I’d be much more likely to use his company knowing that he did.

 

Weather

As British people, we always whinge about the weather. Because our climate is so unpredictable it isn’t difficult to complain about it. It is always too windy, too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry for some people.

I often think that I should have been born in the Mediterranean. I love the climate and it is so beneficial to my arthritis.  I love the fact that day times there are warm, dry and sunny and that rain falls at night, keeping everything lush and green. When on holiday somewhere warm and sunny, I am more positive and eat more healthily. I am more likely to be outside and active. All in all, I generally come back home fitter and healthier. 

I think back to my days at school and it seemed that summers were warm and sunny and winters were cold and snowy. Was it really like that or does a child see things more idealistically? I’m not sure. But our climate is certainly changing. The seasons seem confused and blurred. Last May, it was scorching and the children played outside in a giant paddling pool. This May it is cold, wet and windy and I swear I saw odd flakes of snow coming down in the driving rain this morning.

We have had a prolonged dry (but cold) spell and quite honestly, the garden needed this rain. The fact that I was part-way through taking some turf up in said garden to create a decking pathway is an annoyance as work will now have to stop until things dry out. I hate a job unfinished. But this just goes to show that we can’t actually plan anything that relies on the weather in the UK. 

Consequently, we do whinge about it constantly.

 

Forgetfulness

Apologies, dear readers. For the first time, I forgot to post a whinge yesterday. Maybe this is a sign of getting old.

I do often go to the kitchen to get something and then forget what I went for. Or sometimes I memorise a shopping list only to get to the store and find myself pondering what the items were I needed.  Occasionally, I think of an event or a person from the past and then spend ages trying to remember what their name was. This is all a sign of the ageing process I believe, but is still rather disconcerting.

I could make excuses. I had a busy day looking after my grandchildren. I had an arthritis flare-up in the evening and had an early night. But really, I did have opportunities to write my blog and I try to stay focussed on doing so each day as I find it helps keep my brain active. It is also fun and I love it when I get comments and responses on twitter.

So no excuses. Just an apology via a whinge on forgetfulness!

(Incidentally, isn’t WordPress absolutely amazing? I just found a way to change the date for this post to yesterday so that I don’t seem to miss a day. Sshhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

Fakers

I’m sitting here watching a programme about people who fake well-known makes of goods. 

Last year I ordered my grandson a Nintendo DSi from ebay. When it arrived, it looked perfect. I wrapped it for Christmas and put it away for a couple of weeks until Christmas Day. Imagine his disappointment when he opened it, put in his game and found that the sound didn’t work. I advised the seller on ebay who had advertised his business as UK based and discovered that he was actually in China. He refused to accept liability and so I took up the case with ebay and won my full money back. You would think that this would be the end of the matter – but no. The ‘seller’ sent me repeated emails begging me to send my refund money to him as he was a student and his boss would hurt him if he found out. I was shocked to receive such emails and alerted ebay, who then barred him from communicating with me. I then bought my grandson a DSi from a High Street store – it cost me loads more but I had learned my lesson.

This week on twitter, one of my followers has experienced the same thing. One terribly upset little boy with a fake DSi. Horrendous.

Our problems pale into insignificance with the case I’ve just seen on TV though. A lovely little boy on holiday with his Gameboy, forgets to take his charger. Mum pops into a local store to buy a charger and the boy goes to plug it in whilst waiting for dinner. As mum enters the room, she finds him lying on the floor – dead – charger wire in hand. The charger looks genuine, is marked with the Nintendo logo and mum had no reason to suspect it was fake.  I watched this and my blood ran cold. That beautiful little boy was an innocent victim of illegal fakers, out to make a fast buck, regardless of who gets harmed in the process.

My heart goes out to his mother and I realise only too clearly that there but for the grace of God go I.

Politicians

I was never a particularly political person. I would probably describe myself as a bit of a middle-of-the-road sort of person really. But over the years I have found myself becoming increasingly political.

Since the last government got into power, I have watched as good, decent human beings have been trodden into desperation. Nobody seems to listen to those who know best. If you want to know how to change schools for the better, you speak to and listen to teachers. If you want to know how to make the NHS work effectively, you speak to and listen to doctors and nurses. They, after all, do the face-to-face job day after day. They are the experts. They don’t object to change as long as it is change for the better.

I have a very simplistic view of how a country should get out of trouble. In my view, you grow out of it, not shrink out of it. How can making people redundant and forcing them into benefits possibly help the economy? People need to work. They should pay into the system. They need to be self-sufficient and have the pride of a job well done. We need houses. Building houses leads to work for builders, suppliers, DIY stores, curtain makers, flooring companies….the list is enormous.

At the other end of the scale, we need everyone to pay the right amount of tax (no get-out clauses, no offshore bank accounts….) and we need to get rid of the ridiculous massive bonuses paid to people in banks and big businesses who have failed. When did we start rewarding people for failure??

There is no shortage of money. Just a system which has prioritised people in a totally wrong way.

Through all of this, we see our politicians – elected by (some of) us, supposedly our servants, cheating and lying their way through their expense-laden lives, making decisions which they don’t research adequately. They can be seen publicly mud-slinging at other political parties like the naughty children in the class. Just watch any debate in Parliament to see what I mean. Then for good measure, they single out and bad-mouth decent hard-working people on social media, in speeches and on TV oblivious to the way that affects them.

Politicians – you would not be where you are now if it wasn’t for us. Get on and do the job you are paid to do. Listen to people who know what they are talking about and respond to their advice. Stop the slanging matches and calling each other names.

And opposition parties……where are you?

In the words of the football crowd ‘Who are you? Who are you?’ Tell us what you could do and why we should vote for you. People are sick to the back teeth of the current situation. I’m not surprised that they make a protest by voting for the next Monster Raving Looney Party.

Big Brother is Watching You

I have noticed more and more recently that my journey around the internet is being watched and Big Brother is definitely alive and kicking. Having just moved into a new house in the last six months, we have done a lot of little jobs around the house. This, combined with the fact that I am pretty much tied to the house, means that my preferred shopping option is to shop online. It is convenient for me and over those six months I have had things as small as wall fastenings through to huge things like a summerhouse delivered right to my door. What really disturbs me is that when choosing an item, I trawl through many options and those site visits are being logged somewhere in the cloud. I know this because when I then go to visit other sites, the items I looked at are lurking innocently at the edges of the page to remind me that I haven’t actually bought them yet. I find this very creepy.

It is disconcerting enough that the chandelier you looked at pops up on someone’s blog or the dress company that your twitter friends told you about constantly appears on other sites as you browse but I heard an even more frightening example this morning. 

A lady I follow on twitter responded to my request for new whinges. Her example was targeted marketing at its most frightening. A grocery delivery company has been sending her ‘lady items’ and offers on them at the appropriate time of the month. How intrusive is that??

Of course, this opens up another version of the same issue. Not only is your surfing being monitored but your weekly shop is too, if you use a Tesco Clubcard or Nectar card or similar.  When you do your shop, Big Brother is logging the items you buy regularly and then sending you offers on those items. Did you think it was just coincidence that the voucher you received was for the very brand you prefer and buy regularly?

Whether we like it or not……Big Brother is here and is watching you right now.