Monthly Archives: September 2010

Further notes from The Reluctant Consumer

That’s me. If I was going to start another blog it would be called that. I have previously blogged a bit about being fleeced by the utilitymen whilst I sit innocently on the sofa and, probably like you, find that facet of my helpless consuming continues unabated. If only that were all. I am also forced out and about from time to time to confront the coalface of consumption, otherwise known as: a shop.

I am not big on shops. I have worked in a few and I was not big on customers when I was behind the till either. Being not big on shops, or indeed the verb related to them, I have to go in them far more frequently than you might think. My tolerance levels are so low (on the floor in fact) that I can only bear to shoot in and out with a hand basket. The spoils this garners clearly does not feed a family of four for a week, so I am back in, usually the following day on a repeat mission. My fickle nature additionally sees me tarting round a smorgasbord of purveyors of foodstuffs and other consumables, wherein I refuse to join their loyalty reward programmes. This because I know these doing you a favour, fool schemes are also aka collecting intimate information on you and your dependants. I remain, in my mind, under their radar.

To maintain this elusive status I like to work the aisles haphazardly, doubling back on myself, charging up and then down and then up the central aisles. I start with bakery and work back to the veg. I go in and buy coffee and than wend my way back to the carrot soup. I am a smash, swerve and grab shopper.

Except sometimes. Those are the days when I am on a go slow. On those days my trusty psychological armour against supermarket trickery slips and lets in a chink of their consumer manipulation and then I find I can’t escape. I may look like I am frozen in time, staring at a product for far too long, but what I am doing is trying not to fall for their tricks. This kind of torture usually coincides with having over-indulged the night before. The other weekend I got trapped in this manner in Sainsburys. In a state of confusion and overwhelm (I’ve made it a noun now – that’s what happens if you spend too long in a supermarket) I could have easily sat down in aisle 12 and cried. You see, in that staring moment, I am fighting a losing battle. I have blundered into their House of Mirrors without knowing what I want and I am consequently highly susceptible to their BOGOFs , their 3 for 2s, their fake alcohol discounts (hair of the dog obviously) and their random rubbish near the tills like £3 DVDs. The crazy staring is merely evidence of my internal effort to fight the good fight and only spend a tenner instead of the practically obligatory redback.

Don’t suggest online grocery shopping either. Booking a delivery slot is too traumatic (amongst other things). The page doesn’t refresh in real time and the van icon that you had set your heart on vanishes into thin air when you want to commit your Wednesday evening to an evenings all-weather racing and waiting in for your baked beans to arrive.

Anyway, last Sunday, because I was trapped in a supermarket for a very long time, trying to decide on dinner, the store announcer permeated my brain. You really notice these announcements in Sainsburys because there is no piped tuneage. If you like a bit of music whilst you shop, go to the Co-op or Asda (although there’s nothing edible in the latter they do have their own radio station). Returning to Sunday in the Supermarket (it’s not Smollenskys on the Strand is it?), this is what I heard (more or less):

Would all suitably trained staff please go to checkouts to support your colleagues?

It wasn’t a command, it was bit more of a plea. I knew the staff member that I had seen with the pink feather duster dusting the crap off the crap on the central aisle, near the seasonal shit, opposite dairy where only the lactose intolerant won’t venture, wouldn’t be going to support anyone. She clearly had only received training (mandatory) in the ways of the duster. Neither would the Customer Service lady in the extraordinary wig be going either. She never, ever leaves her domain where people queue to ask dopey questions about their Nectar points and to return stuff they never needed in the first place.

Was there a stampede of other Sainsburys staff to the checkouts? There was not. And when I arrived there, with my trolley (no energy to carry a basket) I did not find half-fainting checkout operators in need of urgent support either. I just found the usual Sunday scene: a load of other hungover people queuing to buy sustenance and some rubbish DVDs and the papers. And in a neat twist, my till operator delayed my alcoholic transaction, not to check I was over 21, but because she needed someone to check her selling thereof because she was… Let’s hope this management style doesn’t find it’s way into the armed forces.

Would all suitably trained soldiers please head to the front in Afghanistan to support their colleagues. Unless, of course, you are busy cleaning your musket. And if you are under 21 can you bring someone else along to authorise your shooting people and people shooting you back.

I find I am increasingly irritated with the cost of that campaign, or war or whatever it is. We just can’t afford it can we? Not when a bunch of crap on a Sainsburys Sunday costs fifty sodding quid.

There’s more, but I think you’ve been trapped in these aisles long enough.

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For the London Sorority: Ian Shaw does Joni Mitchell

Here you two, remember the trips to see Ian @ the Vortex? And were either of you in da house when Seal popped in in that big old ankle-length ethnic knit? Not much by Ian on the old You Tubester, so this will have to do. Oh and don’t forget all that Heavy Metal and Folk Vinyl over the road in that second-hand record shop (what was it called?), notwithstanding the fact I found it cheaper to borrow it from the library and forget to take it back. Ever…

The Information Jungle

That’s what I dip my toe in each morning when I hop out of bed.

I took this photo a few days ago when I was reviewing some snaps. That might do, I thought, for a day when I have run dry on the word front. This morning is still all about voids in my head, but I am mindful of Daftburger’s potential concern about my disappearing up my own arse, and of course the dear Wray Barton’s anti-void campaign, so I won’t go there for now. Then, as I type, Ed Milliband has been giving a good account of himself on the Today programme which I would like to analyse in terms of willingness to embrace one’s own learning curve: a pin-up for the business I am in.

However, bearing in mind those sensibilities and another blog reader’s devotion to all that is modern and art, here goes: my own side of the bed.

NB. This is pure coincidence, Amy Winehouse seems to have forgotten her pump, nothing is staged – all is where I (or a child) dropped it.

What’s to be done with a void?

The only person I know who embraces one is the Guv’nor. It means he can pick up the keys, bowl in and do a full deck with no tenant breathing down his neck or worse. If all he ever did was voids he would be as happy as Larry (whoever he was). In ALMO or old council housing speak, a void is an empty property. Burnt out, flooded or simply trashed and abandoned the decorating squad would go in and give it a few coats of eggshell. White or magnolia to save breaking out a new roller and brush. No fancy wallpaper, no-one making your ears bleed about the damp. Lovely jubbly.

If only we could slap a coat of paint on our own voids and make them right over into swell pads for their inhabitants, we would not only be filling in the gaps, we would also be coining it in rent. Double bubble.

Rather inconveniently it is never so simple. We do it though don’t we. Clothe the void, feed the void, pimp the void. Still it remains. Maybe all that we are is in there, if only we could find it.

I feel bound to add, for those readers who might be related to me: I am fine. I’m down with mine.

For Re:form

Don’t know about you love, but I have gained some industrial injuries off of that badge machine. Still, it were educational were it not!

Next time, I’m wearing smaller badges for my eyes…

The key to the badge-making tent

The Incredible Miracle Bobby Sheds Centimetres

There’s been a bit of argy-bargy (can I say that? what’s the provenance? let’s hope it’s nowt to do with gauchos) about Bobby Burger the Canary’s diet.

Certain parties have been saying he must be snacking on oatcakes (whatever those are (*stands by to be pelted with them*)), but his adoring keeper says otherwise and sagely points out I have the photographic proof herewith.

Here now listen. I’ve been checking this out and there might be a difference between puffing and fluffing ones feathers up. Which is it DB in the last photo? Does Bobby puff or fluff?

The Blog’s all of a Twitter

I’m retweeting this story from Daftburger. It’s about a certain Miracle Bobby. Don’t get this confused with Miracle Bob, the dog I mentioned some while back, this may be even more remarkable! Over to Mr Burger:

A week last Thursday I came home and the wife had a canary in the kitchen who had just walked into the house. Now me not thinking straight, after a hard days work at my sort of job, said we’d better let it go as it may have eggs! I know, I know.

So let it go they did. And could you blame them. If someone had asked me to make an animal welfare decision after a day of making badges in a tent for children in my sort of job, I too would have done some muddled thinking. But yet:

Anyway the amazing thing is after three days of regret and general sadness he came back! We opened the door and in he jumped! We were so happy and now he’s living with us and dominates our sad little lives.

Makemeadiva notes that Mr & Mrs Burger’s life is probably a whole lot less sad than her own (note incontinent pet, half-dead fish and crippled toes…) but these things are, of course, subjective.

So now for the great reveal of Miracle Bobby, but not before we have some explanatory notes from his saviour Mr DB, who for all his lyrical swagger on the commentary sections of various blogs is probably softer than a liddle puddy cat 😉

Well what fun I’ve had trying to get a picture of the miracle man!

Since his first incarnation when he walked around as if he owned the place, and he now does, he is reluctant to come out of his cage, which he was incarcerated in on his return! He’s been out once but all he did was go on the highest curtain rail and he wasn’t coming down. He’s a lot more settled now but i’ll leave him to come out later.

So to get a picture of him without his bars, which I don’t feel comfortable keeping him in, humans eh? He does seem happy enough and perhaps feels safer in there after his three days, that we know of, in the wild who can blame him? He was singing his heart out this morning.

Whichever way you want to cut it, it’s a collective aaaaahhhh ain’t it?

NB: No Bars Bobby Burger – he’s electing to stay on his warm comfy perch even as he’s offered the keys to the kingdom.

Easy like Sunday Morning (not)

Hobble downstairs on stiff and twisted foot. Wonder why this happens

Make tea x 1.5. Thankful to have remembered the youngest insists on putting her own sugar in and I have averted being roundly abused. Feed dog.

Am informed by half a cup sugared tea drinker that there is water, “possibly wee” on the floor under a chair in the dining room.

Mop floor, notice badge-pressing hand is sore.

Am informed by same informant that Edgar the Guppy “may be dead”. Feed fish, guppy unresponsive. Anxiously prod fish alive. Think I might cry with relief.

Drink tea. Am despatched to make coffee and get extension lead. Am informed that two extension leads have been broken in the last month by myself or my mother. Am also reminded I have not yet “fixed” the upstairs televisual feed to bedroom. Retort that I have no vested interest in this.

Draw coffee drinker’s attention to my horoscope: You might get so angry at someone who is being obstinate today that you could lose your temper.

Impervious to zodiacal warning I am admonished for serving coffee in the Arsenal mug (oh I knew what I was doing). Am informed that the morning’s viewing (downstairs, remember no feed upstairs) will be Tweenies with half a cup as no desire to relive the Gunners baffling (yet predictable) dismal display.

Open cupboard-under-stairs, take out extension lead, chip loose football over Henry hoover and quickly shut door before it rolls out again.

Hide upstairs with laptop and incontinent dog. Perhaps they will forget I am here.

Life is like this in the morning: lots of potential, but blurry round the edges.

Big Day

@ Ascot
@ Village Green, Chalkwell Park

I have to rush off and organise the latter. Now. I hope I can catch the races on i-player later. It would normally be the QEII Stakes that tickled my fancy, but with the withdrawal of Canford Cliffs (just after they reported him “better than ever, a beast” – no stud hype there then) I suppose we will leave it to the French horse Makfi. Or Rip Van Winkle – who at 11/4 seems quite big. I also had a little look at Hearts of Fire (ew 14s).

More interesting is the Fillies Mile with Theyskens Theory, White Moonstone and Date with Destiny. The latter hasn’t shown quite enough yet to be a main contender and you wouldn’t be wanting to split the first two, so maybe a combination forecast kind of race as it’s a Saturday.

Anyway I’ll be scribing in the songwriting for kids tent and perhaps catching Carleen Anderson later if we (the kids) can last that long.

Bernadini: Theyskens Theory's pa

Officer Dibble

The corridors have been bare at work for months, but now the students are back and it is bustling and interesting once more. I don’t blog about work, because that would be wrong and it would be a whole new blog with anonymity for all concerned. However some things are ok because they are mere observations about passers by.

Did you know that if you want an entry-level job that does not involve using computers in any way, you are especially likely to be expected to complete an online job application? No paper form to fill out. That’s not even an option. Great, except there are a lot of people that want a job that can’t fill out an online job application.

It seems a bit to me like the world of work disappearing partway up its own bottom. So when I walked past Officer Dibble this week near reception I was rather fixated on identifying his job role via his insignia (remember no specs for distance)…

This pic is dedicated to Mr Daftburger cos I know he loves cats

Can you guess what it is yet?