Thursday, January 07, 2010
I went to Sainsbury’s last night for a few bits and bobs. Not a great deal but slightly more than a basketful so I took a trolley.
The store was nearly deserted and there were only two cashiers open. When I went to pay for my shopping I saw one was quite busy so I went to the other one only to be told by the cashier that it was for baskets only.
That’s fine. I understand the need to have basket only tills but what I didn’t like was the way she told me. She had a look on her face that was both derisory and insulted, the look I would have expected had I wandered around the shop completely naked because I was obviously too stupid to dress myself.
What I realised while I queued at the other checkout was that I couldn’t see that the checkout was for baskets. The “baskets only” sign was obscured by some rather large and garish signs hanging from the ceiling advertising the stores latest bargain promotion. I couldn’t possibly have known the checkout was for baskets only unless I was approaching it from the right angle, which I wasn’t, or I had remembered that that till had always been for baskets only. I shop at about eight different supermarkets. I am not in the habit of memorising the checkout configurations of each one.
I should have complained about this but didn’t. There weren’t any obvious managers around and I doubt if the sulky girl on the till would have given a toss anyway.
The train home yesterday was packed owing to Southeastern’s policy of running an unnecessarily reduced service just so they don’t have to pay compensation for a normal service that isn’t running properly. I’d taken an early train as well due to their habit of closing Charing Cross at the fall of a snowflake.
Part of the way through the journey I began to feel some snow on the back of my neck and the odd flake or two floating down in front of my face. Someone had opened the window behind me and the blizzard outside was blowing in through the window.
Without thinking I reached up and slammed the window shut only to have the woman sitting opposite me give me a very patronising speech about how some of the people standing up were finding it hot. She wasn’t getting snow in her face at that point.
The window was re-opened and I muttered “fine” and left the window alone for the rest of the journey but glowered every time I felt snow on the back of my head.
I don’t really believe it was that hot in the train. Yes, there were a lot of people and they were dressed for cold weather but the heating wasn’t overpowering.
Some people have to open the windows when they get on the train regardless of whether it is hot or not. It is a habitual, almost OCD, action and they get very panicky if they can’t open the window. On almost all occasions when they open the window they always sit upwind of the window. In other words they like the air but they don’t like the cold breeze, or the rain or the snow.
I do like a it of ventilation myself, now and then. The heating on those trains is never perfect and sometimes it is way too hot. However, on those occasions when I do open the window I try to make sure that it isn’t going make another passenger uncomfortable.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
I had a bit of a tidy up in my loft recently and discovered a few old vinyl singles and albums that I had completely forgotten. Feeling nostalgic by these discoveries, and lacking a turntable, I ordered a few CDs off Amazon:
- Best of Blancmange
- Drowning in Berlin: Best of Mobiles
- The Circle and the Square by Red Box
- The Platinum Collection by Mari Wilson
I soon received an email from Amazon telling me that the Mari Wilson was out of stock and would be removed from the order. This was a blessing in disguise as the CD cost nearly £30! None of the others were more than £8.
I tried a few other places for the album and for the albums where most of the tracks were originally features but made little progress. They were either out of stock or cost an arm and a leg.
Why on earth is Mari Wilson so expensive and difficult to find? I know the CDs are probably expensive because they are difficult to find but very few 80s artists are available at such a high price.
In the end I downloaded the tracks I wanted individually from Amazon for substantially less (a total of £3.65, in fact) and put them on my iPod. No shiny CD but at least I have the music (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, Cry Me a River, Just What I Always Wanted and a couple of others that were less well-known)
Of the other three, the usual 80s malady of one or two good tracks amid a sea of dross was firmly evident with the Blancmange and Mobiles CDs with only their one-hit-wonder tracks standing out as any good – Living on the Ceiling (Blancmange) and Drowning in Berlin (Mobiles).
Red Box’s Circle and the Square is remarkably enjoyable, putting a smile on my face during yesterday’s train journey and forcing me to put my laptop away. It has dated a bit with many of the concerns of the day making themselves known on several of the tracks, provoking my 21st Century cynicism but the songs rattle along in a very jolly manner without the wash of self-indulgent claptrap prevalent in many contemporary albums.
For that alone, it was well-worth that trip into the loft.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
There are two issues with the year now being 2010. The first, and easiest, is – how do we say it? Is it two-thousand and ten or twenty-ten?
I’ve noticed that I tend to go by the latter, without thinking. It falls more easily off the tongue in the same way that twenty-oh-nine didn’t. A lot of other people do the same. Strange that we do that, isn’t it?
The second issue is writing it. There is always the problem of when the year changes that, again, without thinking, we continue writing the wrong year. Or rather we start to write the wrong year but usually manage to catch ourselves while we’re in the middle of the decade digit. Last year, for instance, when writing the date I would start writing “08” but would realise it should be “09” before I’d finished the “0”.
Now, of course, the decade digit has changed as well so realising that it should be “10” when I’ve started on an “0” is too late. So, for a while, I’ve taken to writing the whole thing just until the idea that we are in the 2010s has settled down in my subconscious.
Brains. Habits. Anyone got a manual?
Friday, January 01, 2010
As last night’s light dusting of snow prepares to melt on the first day of 2010, it is time for me to blog my resolutions for the year ahead in what has become a tradition over the past few years.
As part of the tradition, let’s first look at last year’s resolutions and see if I had any success. In 2008, I resolved to …
- Lose weight
- Stop the grow/trim/shave cycle with my beard
- Finish my novel
- Spend less
2009 was pretty much more of the same. Did I succeed this time?
- Weight loss. Yes and no. I have rejoined the gym and I did lose a bit of weight. I have probably regained the weight in this Christmas week alone. My blood pressure scare in 2009 has made me more determined, however, to press on with this and I aim to eat more sensibly.
- Beard. Well, no. I’m still growing and trimming and shaving my beard like there’s no tomorrow. I think I just have to conclude that I am indecisive. I will have a longer beard in the winter (as I have now). I will trim it occasionally when I get annoyed with a bit that is patchy or grey. I will cut it down to a goatee when I think faffing around with the trimmers is too much bother. I will accidentally trim too much and end up shaving the thing off. And then, when I get cheesed off with shaving I will grow it back again. Such is life.
- Novel. I was going to resolve this year to give myself one more chance to write the novel and to give up with it and never write again if I fall by he wayside but I can’t do that. However much or little I write or however successful I am or am not at it, I have to face up to the fact that I am a writer. It forms my way of looking at the world. I can’t watch a TV show or read a book without unconsciously breaking down the plot and extrapolating where it is going. I just need to apply that skill to my own novel. I have been working at the novel in 2009, trying to reshape that elusive chapter one into a form that grabs the reader by the collar and drags them into the world that I have created. I’m nearly there, I think.
- Spend less. Aha! I have had a degree of success with this one out of necessity. As well as having a little less money coming in, I have also had the spectre of Graham moving out to cater for. He hasn’t actually moved out yet but I have had to make sure that I can afford to not have his rent money to count on. I have cut down my spending a great deal to the point where I was actually able to save some money last year by more than the amount I get in rent. Part of the success has been in learning to say no both to myself and to people wanting to help me spend money. I have also shuffled things around in my accounts – consolidated loans and moved my mortgage to somewhere cheaper. I intend to keep up with this now that the silly season of Christmas is out of the way.
Additionally, I want to do a few other things …
- Use the internet less. I spend way too much time with my face in my laptop looking at utter rubbish. This needs to stop. Well, it needs to be reduced. There are better things I can be doing with my time – see above under Novel.
- Drink less tea. This is an odd one, I know, but I do drink a lot of tea. OK – it is very weak tea and probably contains less caffeine than a bar of soap but I seem to spend half my time at work either in the kitchen or in the loo and then wonder why I can’t sleep at night.
- Try to get less angry. A lot of things set me off and I need to try to not let them, especially if I can’t do anything about them. If I can change something then I should do that and not get angry about it first. It rarely helps.
- Related to that is to speak when necessary. Often I don’t, preferring to avoid confrontation or not expose myself to ridicule. However, things sometimes need to be said and, if they do, I should say them.
- Clear out the rubbish I have accumulated in my house. There’s tons of shit I don’t need in my house that can either go to the tip or on eBay. I need the space and if there is any money to be had then that’s a bonus.
- Decorate my house. This has to happen after the rubbish clearing and when Graham has moved out. I need space to decorate.
Well, that’s about enough. I could add that I want to invent time travel, fly to the moon and cure all known diseases but there are only 12 months in 2010 and I don’t want to exert myself.