Thursday, January 07, 2010

Is it me? Part two 

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.

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Is it me? Part one 

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.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cost of nostalgia 

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:

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.

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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?

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Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions 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 …

2009 was pretty much more of the same. Did I succeed this time?

Additionally, I want to do a few other things …

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.

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