Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Selfies on a stick. (Room 101- passim)

It was a beautiful sunny day in Kyoto yesterday and the autumnal leaf shades of the trees on the hills and slopes around the various temples were quite magnificent.

These views and the relative tranquility were however  marred by the increasing number of people using extending poles attached to their phones in order to take selfies.

Selfies are examples of the ‘look at me’ culture but when these idiots add sticks to their devices they take the meaning of self obsession to a whole new level, in the process seriously hindering and getting in the way of others.

Apart from anything else it’s just rude and another step down the road to a less civilised society. Why can’t these people stick to the time honoured custom of asking a passing stranger if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture. As well as being a socially beneficial act they might just strike up an interesting discussion of mutual benefit.

#selfiesonastick #selfies




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It was with incredulous astonishment that I read the other day that Manchester Airport had received a best UK Airport of the year award. Clearly the judges have never witnessed the sorts of scenes I saw on November 13, nor apparently similar scenes that I see have been regularly reported since last year.

Arriving at the airport at 07:20 for an 09:35 flight with Lufthansa to Tokyo via Frankfurt on November 13th check in took a mere few minutes and then we encountered what I can only describe as a third world experience. In fact on reflection and with much experience of airports throughout the Indian sub continent something much worse.

We walked the whole length of the check in concourse thinking we’d soon join the end of the queue for security checks. Not so, we were astounded to find that the queue exited the far end of the building, disappeared out of the terminal in a U turn into the external drop off area where it stretched back to the other end of the building across the drop off road and was already a quarter of the way back on a third leg back to the other end of the building. The length must have been 300 yards or more. It took an hour to just get to the first boarding card gate check and then a further 30 minutes to snake through to the security check itself.

We enquired ourselves the reasons and overheard others doing the same. The answers ranged from a straight ‘I don’t know it’s often like this’, to it being due to extra traffic caused by the closure of Blackpool airport (prompting the obvious if Blackpool was so busy why was it closed), and it being due to more people using low cost airlines and self check in.

Not once was there any sort of apology or customer service announcement explaining what was happening. It’s one thing to have a bad customer experience but it’s far worse when those who are in authority make no apologies for it.

Those responsible have serious questions to answer.

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Room 101 is the torture room in Orwell’s 1948 novel 1984. It’s also the name of a BBC program in which celebrities tell us which items/people/ideas etc.. that they’d like to put in room 101.

This continuing thread will contain my own candidates for room 101. Starting with…

Men who wear sunglasses pushed back on their forehead.
Fine for ladies, but chaps, please, stop posing.

People who preface every answer to a question they’re asked with ‘so….’ Not entirely sure when this first started but it seems all too prevalent these days.

“I was sat”
People who always get the tense and participle of the verb ‘be’ wrong. No they weren’t physically forced down in their seat, they were ‘sitting’ not ‘sat’. Challenge anyone who says this in the wrong way. Ask them if they’d equally say . “I was swam…”

Mobile phones used in inappropriate places or circumstances
The lack of etiquette really drives me mad, particularly in social situations. How many times do you see a group of people entering a restaurant and the first thing they do is get out their phones and start blipping away. Do they not realise how rude this is. Similarly people who when in direct conversation choose to answer their phone rather than continue a normal conversation. Best demonstrated by the character ‘Tilly’ played by Sally Phillips in the BBC comedy Miranda with her ‘Bear with, bear with’ comment – see here two minutes into the video.

People who deface their bodies with tattoos. Particularly the large scale tribal tattoos which seem so common these days. This one is totally incomprehensible to me. OK I can understand that matelots of a certain age have tattoos of anchors, chains, dragons, ropes and similar, but they at least have the excuse of being away on long voyages with nothing much else to occupy them in foreign ports.

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There has been much comment, most of it against the suggestion of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, that fixing a minimum price for the sale of alcohol at 50 pence per unit, would be a significant help in cutting down on irresponsible drinking and the ‘binge drink culture’.

At first glance, and as a libertarian, perhaps I too should be against it. What right has the governnment after all to intervene in a straightforward commercial arrangement between citizens and publicans or shops. And yet I’m not – against it that is.

More often than not issues are rarely black and white and there is always a balance to be struck. This is no exception. For once the government has been given a lead and opportunity to do something which would benefit society in general, but as so often Gordon Brown seems to have a blind spot. Critics, and I even heard Ken Clark on the BBC Question Time program, describe the suggestion as a tax. It is nothing of the sort. No revenue would accrue to the government, it is simply a measure to impose a minimum selling price.

Critics also seem to miss the point that for the large majority of people it would have no impact. A normal strength pint of beer contains about two units of alcohol and would have to be sold for a minimum of £1. In a pub I guess the current average is probably £2.50. The measure is clearly aimed at the binge drinker and the supermarkets who are selling high strength lagers at loss leader prices.

If the anti-competitive nature of the supermarkets’ loss leaders were curtailed, it might also assist in slowing down or even hopefully stopping the trend of closures for the traditional British pub. A double bonus in my opinion.

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Why is it that women in checkout queues are totally unprepared for making payment? It seems to come as a complete surprise to most, and they spend precious seconds scrabbling around in bags and purses looking for either cash or cards.

Not only that but instead of tendering their bank card once the last item has been blipped through, they waste time continuing with the packing process, and only when the last item is safely in their bag or trolley do they start the process of fumbling for their card or cash. Don’t they realise that the payment process can be taking place in parallel with the packing process, thus saving time and the frustration of others in the queue behind them?

And no, it’s not just because it’s Christmas and queues are longer than normal. It’s something I’ve observed over the years at all times.

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So after years of lying to us, and complaining that stories of bent bananas and curved cucumbers  were wicked myths, put about by eurosceptics, the European Commission is today set to remove many of these ‘mythical’ directives from the statute book. Sadly however not all. So whilst the EU commissars are now permitting bent cucumbers to be sold, they are still apparently reluctant to remove restrictions on bananas and several other fruits and vegetables.

At least the truth is now out, and everyone now knows that these mad rulers of ours are as daft as most of us always knew.

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Years ago the wearing of poppies in advance of remembrance day was left to the individual. In recent years I’ve noticed that when it comes to the television media, poppies all break out at precisely the same time. If one person appearing on a TV programme wears a poppy then everyone does.

Now whilst I applaud the wearing of poppies (‘lest we forget’), the impression is given that there is an obligation to wear them from a given moment, which necessarily takes something away from the whole purpose – which is to remember. I’d far rather it was left to individuals to decide the appropriate moment, and in its own way this would mean much more.

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