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The very, very nervous should look away now

friday-820958_1920.jpgI heard that Stevie Wonder song, ‘Superstition’ on the radio recently and it reminded me that the superstition gene is a very strange phenomenon. I assume it is biologically inbuilt because in a rational world it would be difficult to arrive at a logical conclusion that, say, putting your shoes on the table would lead to untold misery.

I can see that walking under ladders presents a small hazard, risk-wise, and that some superstitions act as a warning system. But where does throwing salt over your shoulder figure in the lexicon of therapeutic activities?

It may be that for ‘superstition’ we should read the word ‘excuse’. ‘It wasn’t my fault, some higher, malevolent, power assured me that if I stood on the cracks, a diabolical, unspecified evil would befall my family, and there’s no statute of limitations. So I have to continue do this as long as I live.

Clearly some don’t work. No matter how many red shirts Tiger Woods wears during his final round in a golf championship, they have lost their magical potency to tip the scales of winning his way.

Possibly without the existence of some larger, universal, force, the nature of which is conveniently unknowable, we would have to accept responsibility for our behaviour and not blame others. Which thought allows me to segue into the question of fate.

‘It was meant to be’. Que sera. Of course what will be, will be. It couldn’t possibly not ‘be’. But to imply that we are helpless victims is the other side of the coin of excuse. Personally I don’t like the fatalists assertion that because I’m a Capricorn, I must … … (fill in as appropriate), that everything is pre-ordained and part of a larger plot, again unknowable, unfortunately. That some form of global or universal program has been written about my (little) life, that I am following unconsciously, just as you are following yours.

I can see that major decisions in our lives could have a shattering affect, whether for good or ill. For example my business partner, John, has always felt uncomfortable in confined or crowded places. He used to travel into London from Reading by train, usually first class because our client was paying. One day he was waiting at the front end of the platform when the train arrived, already very full of passengers. He withdrew his arm, outstretched to open the door saying ‘**** that for a game of soldiers’ and stood back to wait for the next train. That was the morning of the Paddington train crash when most of those in ‘his’ carriage were killed. Fate? Why did he deserve to live and the others not? Were they a bunch of actual or potential, murderers?

According to some, the actual events waiting in our futures are indeed discernable from the infinite array of possibilities. You just need to know which astrologer/Tarot reader/person with a crystal ball has the inside track, as well as knowing how to avoid ‘tempting fate’. This is a nice but folksy notion that all ‘fate’ needs is a temptation morsel and thereafter the course of your life will be dictated by him, her or it.

Just to make sure you are fully prepared to either avoid, or welcome, fate, here is a quick reminder of the does and don’ts (based on extensive Googling).

DO:

. carry an acorn for everlasting life, a rabbit’s foot, and some white heather

. make sure you wear your lucky underpants (800,000 people do)

.have some bird poo on your house

Don’t

. cast clouts until mid June

. describe something as ‘nice’ e.g. the state of the traffic or weather, because naming it ensures it will change

. have anything to do with umbrellas, black cats, ladders, salt, mirrors, nor put a hat on in bed.

Other than the above you can behave perfectly normally.

‘Is this as good as it gets?’

                         p1070362_3816_edited-1                     

I was waiting to see the nurse at my GP’s surgery recently. I had only been waiting 30 minutes past my appointment time, and it struck me that ‘waiting’ is such a common pastime for me, and I wondered how much of my life had slipped through this particular crack. At which point my name was called.

These days I wait mainly for doctors, usually consultants but also nurses, my GP, therapists and dentists. My trouble is an over-developed sense of punctuality. I always think I should get there with time to spare, just in case. It’s a shame that the person with whom I have an appointment usually doesn’t feel the same kind of obligation to me. So I sit, waiting for the great man/woman to bestow their favour on me. Often you can tell, very roughly, how long the wait is likely to be by the state of the magazines. Not that they are likely to contain anything useful or interesting

It was Oscar Wilde who said ‘punctuality is the thief of time.’ and although that sounds like an ready-made excuse, it has a ring of truth for sad parrots like me who spend a lot of time waiting.It’s not as if those corner curled magazines contain anything interesting or useful, but their age and general dog-earedishness gives a clue to the likelihood of being seen before you lose the will to live.

I ought not forget the other great hoover of time – waiting for someone to answer the ‘phone. Being told that my call is important to them is no consolation, especially if the consolers are insurance company oiks or utility company youths.

In the past I didn’t spend anything like the time I do now on medical matters, but I still managed to hang about for large chunks of time. At work meetings never started when they should have  because of latecomers. I tried to get various chairmen to start at the advertised time regardless of who was late, but rarely was I successful, especially when he/she was a culprit. Getting to see my boss was also a marathon, and a small packet of sandwiches advisable.

And so it goes. Or doesn’t. Waiting for my wife to ready herself, for a favourite program to come on TV, for the garage to finish sorting out the car, or, more likely, looking for some creative accounting opportunities in constructing my bill, in restaurants, at the Post Office, to go to sleep, in the supermarket queue – especially when behind the slowest woman in the world who is sure she had a money-off voucher somewhere about her person, and so on.

I would have thought that after a lifetime’s practise at waiting, I would have become stoical. Regrettably not. With age comes added impatience and intolerance of delay, often accompanied by a great deal of tutting.

There is a poem by T S Eliot with the line ‘I have measured out my life in coffee spoons’. For me, replace ‘coffee spoons’ with ‘waiting rooms’ and you have it.

Which is all very well, but whom do I see to about getting all that time back now I really need it?

So we now have Mrs.May’s negotiating blueprint setting out the objectives for our departure from the EU. Understandably there is not much by way detail but the surprising and welcome announcement that prior to implementation the negotiated ‘agreement’ will be subject to a vote in both Houses of Parliament—that at least has to be good […]

via Post sixty — Son of Jake

Happy New Year?

Fragments of memories keep intruding. Memories of the kind you want to forget, like embarrassing sex moments when you were a teen. But when I opened my eyes, 2016 hadn’t gone away. It wasn’t a dream, it was all too real. We really did want to leave Europe; we really did want to pay more for everything; we really did want Trump.

The Guardian newspaper, on New Years Eve, tried to put on a brave face and persuade us that there was some good news. Apparently C02 emissions had levelled out over the last three years. It would have been nice to read that they had declined, but that was too much to hope for, as we released 40 gigatonnes into the atmosphere. There is also the small matter of a rise temperature of the Arctic cap of 20C. That would be like peak temperatures in the UK of 45 degrees.

Still, we only need to cut emissions by 80% to get global warming under control. Simples.

Otherwise there has been a global rise in life expectancy of 10 years since 1980, UK crime rates are at their lowest level since ’81, and those in poverty across the world have halved since ’93.

Meanwhile, we still have Brexit and Trump.

For Trump we have diplomacy by Twitter. He is currently circling Putin, trying to float like a bee and sting like a butterfly, but has been outmanoeuvred fairly easily. Apparently, Trump still favours dropping sanctions against Russia but the rest of his Party want a harder line. Could this be a problem for T & P’s love affair? Trump may even be persuaded by the FBI and CIA’s evidence of cyber wickedness against the USA, even if to do so means accepting he had a little help from his (Russian) friends to get where he is today. Or possibly not.

So, hello 2017. What have I got to look forward to? The imminent arrival of another year to be added to my age; the imminent arrival of some painful, and painfully expensive, dental work; the hope that no more of my body parts cease to work and the untenable hope that someone other than friends and family buys a copy of my book, and that hose who have bought it (no doubt out of kindness or my threats) give me a review, even a half hearted one.

Finally, I must invest more energy in getting some more followers as it does feel as if I’m shouting at myself in an empty room.

Shopping Rules

foodface

 

The main supermarkets announced today that they are introducing a set of rules that will govern behaviour in their premises, and that these will be implemented forthwith.

A spokesman for CRASS (the Cartel for Regulating All Supermarket Shopping) said

‘It is high time we re-imposed order and discipline on shopper’s behaviour’.

General Rules

-The use of mobile phones to tell a.n.other where they are and what they’re doing is forbidden, as is discussing the shopping list on the ‘phone. These devices must be handed in on entry and will be returned on evidence of payment. Any ‘phones smuggled in will be subject to the penalty for non-compliance. A phonectomy.

-Do not engage in conversations with staff. They are not programmed to be sociable and they need to get on with their job.

– No talking is permitted between the driver of a trolley and another. These are not places for chi-chat and it clogs up the aisles.

– Check through any vouchers you may have, and discard any that are out of date, before entering the shop.

 

New Shopppers

– You will need a licence to shop which can only be provided, along with a loyalty card, once you have undergone the training and been rated as conversant with the shop’s regulations and the Health and Safety requirements.

– If it has been discovered that you have shopped elsewhere you will be required to go to a remedial training course.

– You must always replace the trolleys in the correct pen and any form of trolley abuse will be taken very seriously.

– Your probation period will be three months from your first unaccompanied shop.

 

Shopping with children.

– Shopping only allowed on Mon to Fri between the hours of 8am and 10am if accompanied by one child under the age of seven, or between 8.00am and 9.00am if accompanied by more than two children.

-Children must behave in a seemly manner. Those throwing tantrums shall be placed in a holding area and left to calm themselves down. Parents must wait until then before collection.

– Parents or guardians who allow their children/wards to

——push trolleys/ride on or in trolleys

——run

——eat things off the shelves

——as above but placing half-eaten items back on the shelves

——make rude faces at unsuspecting older people

——say ‘Mummy I want……’ more than once

——let out bowel-loosening screams

shall have their children removed into detention until the shopping is done.

– No parent/guardian shall ask their children what they would like for lunch/supper. They will have what they are given.

 

Older shoppers

– Why don’t you shop on line? It is much easier than slogging all the way to a crowded, noisy supermarket, and the nice delivery man will bring the bags in for you. – If you must go to the shop then please prepare by having your payment details handy.

– Anyone caught fumbling trying to pay a bill of £10 or more with loose change will be placed in a holding pattern at the back of the queue.

– Shoppers over the age of 60 must use the special lane dedicated to slowness.

For a small fee the supermarket can provide a Personal Shopper to aid the elderly.

 

Rules for staff.

When reloading the shelves, ensure that you occupy as much space as possible to slow shoppers down so they spot tempting offers they had no intention of buying when they came in.

– Shoppers can’t be trusted to follow directions to where their desired item is located and so must be accompanied. Do not engage in banter.

-Try to avoid eye contact with shoppers and take detours to avoid those looking for help.

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

Note:

– If too many breaches are reported of the above rules, old Christmas songs, especially by Slade, will be played continuously at loud volume.

The supermarket shall not be held responsible for anyone dying of hypothermia on its premises. Shoppers must wear suitable arctic clothing. If you have none, appropriate garments can be found in Aisle 3

 

 

Language Abuse: blah, blah, ‘LOL’, blah,blah, ‘iconic’, blah …..

Our language has become corrupted. It has become bent to fit modern forms of communication so that it becomes a drag if you have to spell things out rather than speed texting. Not only that but most messages on social media are constructed without any attention paid to the quality of the words.

I guess Blaise Pascal was correct when he apologised for the length of a letter on the grounds that he didn’t have time to write a shorter one. Many people don’t appear to have such time or the inclination to expend much thought on what they write.

This is not the only area guilty of language abuse. It permeates the spoken word in political speeches, TV programmes and the views of ‘the man/woman in the street’.

I have started a list of some common words, phrases or sayings that demonstrate an unthinking, lazy, adoption of cliche in place of considered thought.

Here is my starter for ten, by no means comprehensive. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITION WELCOME.

  • ‘on-going situations’. This is a golden oldie that you don’t hear so often theses days.
  • ‘At the end of the day’. This irritating phrase has been around for years and shows no signs of imminent death, regrettably.
  • euphemisms for death e.g. passed on/passed away/lost. No. you haven’t ‘lost’ your partner – as in putting him/her down somewhere that now escapes you – they have died.
  • the verb to ‘address’. A bland word that implies some non-specific action and, for some, sounds business-like.
  • ‘issues’ a close relative of the above and often used in conjunction. What are we going to address? Why ‘issues’ of course. Sometimes used as a pejorative description of a person with problems (usually psychological), – ‘well of course he has ‘issues’ about his mother’.
  • An even less specific sub-set is ‘issues around’. Yuck.
  • ‘With respect’, ‘with the greatest respect’, ‘with the greatest possible respect’. Which roughly translate as ‘you’re wrong’, ‘you are so wrong’, ‘you must be out of your mind’.
  • ‘iconic’. Somehow this has caught on, perhaps because it sounds erudite, and now applies to almost anything even mildly famous or interesting.
  • ‘impactful’. The illegal conversion of a noun into an adjective.

 

It is possible to blend all of these into a paragraph, which sounds as if it has been honed by the Civil Service to the point where it creates the impression of action, but sidesteps any accountability for doing anything.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have an on-going situation that we need to address. There are issues around the speed with which this must be tackled but we must be cognisant of the possible nugatory effects of hasty action because, at the end of the day, there are a number of issues on both sides of the argument that could have very impactful consequences, and with the very greatest respect to my colleague, we cannot allow this iconic topic to be kicked into the long grass. We need a safe pair of hands and at the same time we must be seen to be taking this matter very seriously, so taking everything into account, we believe, by and large, that on balance the best outcome is to set up a multi-disciplinary, inter-departmental working party to produce terms of reference for a major study to be commissioned at a later date. Let no-one say we are not treating this matter seriously.’

In a slightly similar vein I once saw a notice on Waterloo station that read

‘We would like to apologise for the lack of timetables available. This is attributable to printing problems. If you are in need of advice, please approach a member of staff.’

Any offers as to how this might have been better written?

Blah, blah, ‘LOL’, blah, blah, ‘iconic’, blah … …

 

Our language has become corrupted. It has become bent to fit modern forms of communication so that it becomes a drag if you have to spell things out rather than speed texting. Not only that but most messages on social media are constructed without any attention paid to the quality of the words.

I guess Blaise Pascal was correct when he apologised for the length of a letter on the grounds that he didn’t have time to write a shorter one. Many people don’t appear to have such time or the inclination to expend much thought on what they write.

This is not the only area guilty of language abuse. It permeates the spoken word in political speeches, TV programmes and the views of ‘the man/woman in the street’.

I have started a list of some common words, phrases or sayings that demonstrate an unthinking, lazy, adoption of cliche in place of considered thought.

Here is my starter for ten, by no means comprehensive. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITION WELCOME.

  • ‘on-going situations’. This is a golden oldie that you don’t hear so often theses days.
  • ‘At the end of the day’. This irritating phrase has been around for years and shows no signs of imminent death, regrettably.
  • euphemisms for death e.g. passed on/passed away/lost. No. you haven’t ‘lost’ your partner – as in putting him/her down somewhere that now escapes you – they have died.
  • the verb to ‘address’. A bland word that implies some non-specific action and, for some, sounds business-like.
  • ‘issues’ a close relative of the above and often used in conjunction. What are we going to address? Why ‘issues’ of course. Sometimes used as a pejorative description of a person with problems (usually psychological), – ‘well of course he has ‘issues’ about his mother’.
  • An even less specific sub-set is ‘issues around’. Yuck.
  • ‘With respect’, ‘with the greatest respect’, ‘with the greatest possible respect’. Which roughly translate as ‘you’re wrong’, ‘you are so wrong’, ‘you must be out of your mind’.
  • ‘iconic’. Somehow this has caught on, perhaps because it sounds erudite, and now applies to almost anything even mildly famous or interesting.
  • ‘impactful’. The illegal conversion of a noun into an adjective.

 

It is possible to blend all of these into a paragraph, which sounds as if it has been honed by the Civil Service to the point where it creates the impression of action, but sidesteps any accountability for doing anything.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have an on-going situation that we need to address. There are issues around the speed with which this must be tackled but we must be cognisant of the possible nugatory effects of hasty action because, at the end of the day, there are a number of issues on both sides of the argument that could have very impactful consequences, and with the very greatest respect to my colleague, we cannot allow this iconic topic to be kicked into the long grass. We need a safe pair of hands and at the same time we must be seen to be taking this matter very seriously, so taking everything into account, we believe, by and large, that on balance the best outcome is to set up a multi-disciplinary, inter-departmental working party to produce terms of reference for a major study to be commissioned at a later date. Let no-one say we are not treating this matter seriously.’

In a slightly similar vein I once saw a notice on Waterloo station that read

‘We would like to apologise for the lack of timetables available. This is attributable to printing problems. If you are in need of advice, please approach a member of staff.’

Any offers as to how this might have been better written?

Notes From A Hospital Bed (humorous). Parts 3&4 – The Patients

Part 3 ‘What Do You Think Of Them Apples?’

Being in hospital provides a licence for patients to become quite personal in conversations. “What’s wrong with you/what are you in for?” are common enquiries for openers. I learned quite quickly that the enquirer was not really interested in the answer – I cold have said to some “my name is Napoleon and my aim is world domination but first I have to get rid of this irritating tendency to diarrhoea.” The most probable reaction would have been “oh really, well I’m here because ….”

In other words patients are, understandably, absorbed by their own health, plus there is a cetain kudos in having something really exotic.

A young man in a ward of old codgers who, in order to ward off daytime boredom and night starvation, had brought with him a copy of ‘Nuts’ magazine, which he kept on his bed for quick access. It was immediately spotted by his male visitors who then accompanied their stay absorbed by the unfeasibly large bosoms, accompanied by grunts, winks and ‘phews’.

Kevin the Constipated had come in for a routine procedure but had developed a bad infection in a couple of toes, possibly related to his diabetes. He had also developed the habit of sleeping in his chair and throughout the night he burps, farts hiccups and is once sick. He mutters “Sorry” almost to himself, as if he is apologising to his body for the lack of control. He is a true ‘Torbay Shuffler’, sliding one foot 9 inches in front of the other as he makes a form of serene movement toward his goal. He came up to the window next to me using this strange form of locomotion, peered out earnestly and announced to no one in particular, “Looks like it’s another grey day”. On reflection this was probably an invitation to talk because he could see all of that without getting up from his chair. So why ‘Constipated’? I overheard a nurse asking him that most intimate of questions about his bowel opening (any suggestions for a better alternative?) Kevin’s answer to this was “No. And I haven’t done so for 10 days. I’m already on 10 senna.”   I can’t say it was a disappointment that I was unlikely to be around when Kevin rectified this desperate situation

‘Red Nose’ was a large man, with a championship-sized belly, which for some reason, was exposed. He spoke in a gravelly voice which was nearly unintelligible, as it appeared to be transmitted through a distorting mechanism. I could not hear what he was saying but, fortunately, neither could the nurse who repeated as much as she could to get his agreement. Two of his croaked transmissions were “I should tell you that I drink a bottle of wine a day.”   Aha, belly explained. “Have you done so for long?” Answer “25 years, although I used to drink more. I’ve been cutting back recently.” His second was more enigmatic. “I want to re-write my will.” Not bad for a line. Presumably he was concerned about the outcome of his stay, so the nurse held up an A4 writing pad and he scratched away at this until I lost interest.

Creeping Colin was a man who had the ability to glide silently, as if on castors. One minute he wasn’t there, the next he was. And it was not a pretty sight. Bald on top but with a long flowing fringe emerging from the base of his skull and merging at he front with a beard almost of ZZ Top length. Six and a half feet tall and dressed in slippers, long grey socks, a dingy grey dressing gown, and a reckless blue and white striped nightshirt of his own. Oh and he spoke in a croaky whisper. Something, I assumed, to do with his reason for being there.   However one day I returned to see him with a woman who was just completing the task of removing his hair. A short back and sides had been administered and the same scissors had also attacked his beard. They could only remove so much and until he shaved, it would appear that he had stumbled into a patch of thin tumbleweed.   From that point on he wore either a battered old fishing hat or one of the bobble variety. Later I heard a nurse ask him how long it had been since his wife had seen him clean-shaven. His answer? Never.

Notes From A Hospital Bed. Part 4. Disturbances.

Noises Off.

If you have been in hospital you will remember that serene and relaxing it is not. The first achievement is to get to sleep at night but you may well have a selection of night moaners, screamers, complainers or determined coughers, who are committed to make sure they are heard by the entire hospital.

If you can manage some sleep then, after what seems like a few minutes you are woken by a nurse wanting to take your ‘observations’ and the desire to ensure you can answer the question about bowel movements. Your answer would be based on a tactical decision dependent on who last visited the loo and how long ago.

This is the start of a day of perpetual motion interrupted by periods of utter boredom. The drug rounds, what passes these days for breakfast, observations, a visiit from the doctor and, if you’re lucky with a gaggle of would-be doctors in tow.

Things slow a bit in the afternoon so you can gather your wits before the invasion of the visitors and their own brand of hubub. Pretty soon its evening and time to prepare for the next night where the collection of patients whose brains have deserted their bodies, to let us know about the state of their bladder, ailments or how cruel the staff have been.

Shutting out all of them just leaves you with the snoring competition.

Competitive Snoring. One guy who was detoxing, led the snoring charts for three nights in a row.   Actually, as he slept most of the day, it wasn’t just a nocturnal activity. But some stiff competition arrived in the shape of Ken, a nonagenarian with a soft, semi-apologetic demeanour which concealed a resolute and determined man. The majority of his marbles were still in place, but he had such a lack of confidence in the staff that he will ask three different nurses the same question, before subsiding into a semi soporific state which involves keeping a close watch on the ceiling.

When he can forget about his bladder and passes under ‘sleep’s dark and silent gate’, he entertains us to a symphony of blocked hooter snoring of such gold medal proportions that combined with sheer persistence and volume, wrestles the crown away from Detox man.. The only problem was that Ken was slap bang next to me, having replaced Sid and his musical bottom.

Once my next door companion was Mr. Doolally Tap, although I think he also answered to the name of Cyril. He was an interactive balmpot who kept asking for whatever crossed his mind. And he directed his attention to anyone he thinks would listen. I had to hone my ‘too absorbed because I’m concentrating hard on something so important that it blocks out all extraneous noise’ look. This was reinforced by hurried scribbling, as if I’d just invented an anti-gravity device, a tapping of the pencil on my teeth, or low level muttering. If he had been there much longer they wouldn’t have been able to tell which of us was the dafter. The poor man was seriously confused, asking if the noise he could hear is “them shooting foxes” or warning the man opposite that he had a ginger cat on his bed. This was instantly worrying for the addressee who had trouble hanging onto reality at the best of times.

He kept trying to talk to me using the nonsense lingo of the truly deranged while smiling through gaps and he needed to be constantly reminded that he couldn’t get up (“I need to go to the garage”) because he was tethered by a catheter.

One night they wheeled his bed out of the ward and left him next to the nurses station after he tried to file the electric fan in his locker believing he was putting the hens to bed. Confirmation that all was not well with this man was that he had a comb over through choice rather than necessity.

Once he was puzzled by his iphone which started to ring and this made him very agitated as I think he knew he had to press a button, but which one? I showed him the mystery of the green button and he was so delighted he bequeathed me his ‘Tractor Monthly’ magazine to indicate that we had become firm friends.

Cyril isn’t the sharpest scalpel on the tray, but he’s not quite as blunt as he first appeared. Each morning when the doctors did their round they asked him a standard set of questions to test his grip on reality. Over a few days he gradually improved, his problems having been caused by too much calcium, apparently. So he began to answer correctly such question as “Do you know your name? Where are you? What day is it?” But when they got to “Can you please count backwards from 20?” his response was “Oh, no, my wife does that sort of thing.”