Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Pen or The Finger?

I am in my kitchen making a cup of tea when I see an attractive man in his thirties approach my doorstep carrying a parcel. This doesn't happen very often. (That's the attractive man knocking on the door - the parcels come a lot. In fact, Amazon would probably go into receivership without my custom.)

I open my front door and take a closer look at my visitor. I decide he has modelled his appearance on George Clooney's semi-bearded look. This is pleasing to the eye but doesn't quite have the same impact as Gorgeous George is a six-footer and the delivery man is like Tom Cruise in stature. Somewhere six inches has gone missing.

Still, I'm not one to complain about six inches.

So I smile as he breaks into conversation.

"Would you mind taking in this parcel for your neighbour?"

"Sure." I reply.

The man hands over one of those electronic signature devices where I am supposed to sign for receipt of delivery. For a moment I am perplexed as there is no stylus or pen and I wonder how this device works and then (being super intelligent) I realize I am supposed to sign using...my finger.

I raise my finger and strategically place it on the screen and attempt to sign my name.

Nothing happens.

I try again. Nothing happens. The screen is blank.

I am perplexed.

I raise my finger and study it. (Yes - I can't believe I did that either.)

What has happened to my finger? It's not working! Why is my magic finger not working? Have I lost my touch? Oh. My. God. My finger is broken!

 The deliver man sighs. "You're supposed to use your finger not your fingernail."

"Ah."

I  quickly sign my name with as much flourish as possible.

J a n e

The delivery man hands over the parcel.

"Bring back pens," I say and close the door.


Fingers. I like them and find them pretty handy. However, the next time someone
 asks me to sign something without a pen I know which finger I'll be using. And it won't be the one they're expecting.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Haiku Stink

Master Benedict: I need to find a three word poem, print it off and take it into school.

Mrs T: You mean, a three line poem. A haiku?

Master Benedict: Yes, that's right. A haiku.

Mrs T: Let's look on the net.

Mrs T pulls up some haiku websites

Mrs T: How about this one?

Master Benedict: It's crap.

Mrs T: Yes. How about this one then?

Master Benedict: That's crap too.

Mrs T: Hmm..yes it is. This one?

Master Benedict: No.

Mrs T: This one?

Master Benedict: No.

Mrs T: This one?

Master Benedict:They're all crap!

Mrs T: Umm..yes. Most haiku is crap.What about this one ?

Master Benedict: I suppose it will have to do.

Beans are kind to hearts. 
I like to eat them daily. 
And then do big farts!


Master Benedict: It's still crap.

Mrs T: Yes.




Culpability and White Lies at Tesco

A few days ago, I read with interest the breaking news in the UK that the FTSE 100 UK-based firm, Tesco, is under investigation for financial malpractice. Like many others, including shareholders whose investments have plummeted, I will be interested to discover the possible extent of the wrongdoings and the degree of culpability amongst the top executives.

Since the global recession and the collapse of some banks, we are all more acutely aware of the malpractices and corruption that can occur within big companies that are driven to produce ever-increasing profits. I wrote about big business, corruption and culpability in White Lies, one of my stories in my collection, A Modern Life. The main protagonist, William Baxter, is a tyrannical profiteer who relishes his ruthless reputation until, one day, he meets a blind woman who unwittingly changes his perspective on life. The twist in the tale though is, by the end of the story, where Baxter is redeemed from his abhorrent ways, the blind woman has been corrupted by her new found material wealth.

Not all decisions are easy.
It is sometimes too easy to criticise and mock people in big business and politics. Of course I do it here on my blog in a jovial way and, at a deeper level, discussion, scepticism and criticism are part of the democratic processes that helps to keep businesses and governments in check. However, we should remember that not all companies or executives are corrupt and without banks and businesses we would have nowhere near the scale of wealth and prosperity that we do in the Western world. Banks and businesses supply the investment that provide jobs and mortgages that ultimately have taken us from the poverty-ridden subsistence level existence of the pre-industrial era into a world where the quality food, warmth and housing that were once the prerequisite of the elite are now commonplace. We should also remember that corruption is not limited to the rich or powerful. Stealing the office paper, using the office franking machine to send Christmas cards (I've seen it happen), hiding aspects of your income, exaggerating expense claims - are all examples of degrees of corruption.

I'm aware that there is a huge difference between the culpability of people who are trying to exist at the most basic human level to those at the highest level. But the point of my story White Lies is that we are all capable of corruption and we all just as capable of redemption - should we so wish. Sometimes things happen in our lives that makes us change the way we think and act, for better or for worse, so perhaps nothing, except death, can be predetermined. What is important, I believe, is that people who have the power to influence and change lives have a strong ethical code. In my opinion, Western society is pursuing a relentless quest for increasing profit and obscene indulgence which will result in an unequal distribution of wealth so great it will beyond any justification. Maybe we have already reached that point. It concerns me that some people have more money than they could ever need and yet, even in Western world, there are those still living on the breadline. If we extend those comparisons to the Third World, where societies still suffer extremes of poverty and disease, then the comparisons are far greater. These inequalities are not just sad. They're tragic. It's impossible to pretend that such deprivation does not exist; the faces of dying children are no longer pages in a book or a remote column in a newspaper but faces on our TV screens, tablets and mobile phones. They cannot, or should not, be ignored.

I do believe that individuals and companies should be amply rewarded for their efforts. It is pure idealism to believe society will ever be truly equal in all respects. However, that doesn't mean we can't strive for an equality in basic human comforts and health care or ensure companies conduct their business in an ethical fashion. So many companies relentlessly pursue increasingly profits for their major shareholders on a yearly basis and many top executives have massive bonuses based on those profits. The temptation to resort to unethical behaviour, for some, must be strong. And I don't just mean unethical behaviour that is strictly illegal but behaviour that involves unfavourable treatment of suppliers or subtly misleading promises to consumers.

There is only so much money one needs to live, even gloriously. Wouldn't it be nice if we shared it around more?


White Lies and twelve other tales of contemporary life can be found in my story collection, A Modern Life


Friday, September 19, 2014

We're still better together

So we've got to keep flogging haggis in our English supermarkets.

I knew those cunning Scots were just trying to get my hopes up about us banning haggis imports.

Now, if we can have a referendum on Europe, we'll look even more like a democracy. Cameron's promised one in 2017, if he gets re-elected.

So that'll give Cameron and his cronies two years to convince us the rest of Europe really cares about us.

Good luck with that one, David.

Yes, I know I shouldn't be cynical. The truth is, I am all for European unity. I'm a liberal, forward-thinking kind of person. In fact I'm more than happy to see an exchange of imports and exports.

We'll take some Belgium chocolate and the rest of Europe can take the haggis.

Seems only fair.

The French can keep Gerard Depardieu as well. Apparently he drinks 14 bottle of wine a day and recently was caught urinating in an air-plane aisle.

That's the sort of problem we can do without. It would give a whole new meaning to word "Easyjet."






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Just because it makes me laugh





Blimey, I wish Scotland would go to the polls more often. I've spent all day laughing.

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious" - Oscar Wilde

Last night I watched (for about the third time) the action movie, The Rock.

I laughed my socks off when Sean Connery (weather beaten ex-SAS released from prison to help fight renegade marines) quoted Oscar Wilde (witty Irish dramatist) to Ed Harris (balding bad guy) in that all-knowing way of his - creased forehead, one eyebrow slightly raised and talking out the side of his mouth.

It's the Scottish referendum today and with Connery noted for his Scottish patriotism, his character's usage of the quote "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious" rather appealed to my sense of humour.

And then after I'd had a good old chuckle we got back to the deadly nerve gas and blowing up the bad guys.

Yay.

And just because it is referendum day, I am going to throw in another quote:

"I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred, no bitterness towards anyone."

Edith Cavell.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bad Timing - Again

Why is it that on one of the very few mornings I have overslept in my entire life it is the one morning I had booked an 8 am dentist appointment?

I am still getting over the shock that the boys have gone to school and Mr T has gone to work with without waking me.

The dentists have now given me a cancellation for 8 am tomorrow. Please God let me remember.

Anyway, I have done a quick survey of the house: I am not convinced the boys have had any breakfast, brushed their teeth or, in Master Ben's and Mr T's case, taken a packed lunch - although there is a rogue plastic container on the kitchen cabinet. I think that's as far as they got before the effort of making a sandwich proved too much.

Nobody had remembered to let out Miss Agatha, our last remaining chicken, into the garden. She was lodging a formal protest which roughly translated went like this:

w******! No eggs for you anymore w******!

Other random news:

I came back from a coffee with two friends on Tuesday and, as I pulled up the drive, I saw a plastic bag on the doorstep. I wondered whether one of my neighbours had left me either sawdust for Miss Agatha's hutch or some apples for a pie. I was hoping for the apples but would have been very happy with the sawdust.

The bag contained six cans of Lynx spray-on deodorant.

Is someone trying to tell me something?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Breaking Voice

I am quite sad that in the last week or so young Master Benedict's voice has begun to break. In a way it signifies the end of an era.

Some of you may remember this funny video of him playing with his plastic machine gun.



More recently, he was filmed at Wimbledon.





The next time I post a video of him he'll probably sound like Placido Domingo.

On another note - I am going out later and I plan to put a bra on.

 (See previous post if you're confused.)


Monday, September 8, 2014

Give Me The Booby Prize

I have just returned from the local post office where I was sending off a package. Just as I was handing it over, the post office clerk looked at me with amusement and said:

"Your top has fallen down."

I looked down at my cleavage with horror.

Unfortunately, I was still wearing the camisole top I was wearing in bed last night.

 And I had no bra on.

Watch out for clips of CCTV footage on YouTube entitled "Braless Woman Shocks Post Office Clerk."

God, I hate the menopause.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Bye Bye Joan

How sad to hear that Joan Rivers has died. I enjoyed her superb wit and self-deprecating humour immensely. She was the only true international comedienne and a wonderful entertainer. I think she's gonna have them rolling in the aisles beyond those pearly gates.

One must always look on the bright side of things though as did Joan when times are tough. Therefore, I hope it isn't too bold of me to say:

I am optimistic that Joan's jewellery collection will be buried with her.