Sunday, 25 December 2011

Just another day

There are lots of people who describe Christmas Day as just another day.

And sit down to a huge Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, open their presents from the huge pile under the tree festooned with bright ornaments, have friends and family round for food, drinks, games, chat, fun, and maybe even watch the queen's speech for all I know.

That, is not 'just another day'.

'Just another day' is:

When you get up at the same time rather than waking up in the small hours dying to open your presents under the tree - because there is no tree, and there are no presents.

When you don't have children, or any family, or close friends coming to visit.

When you don't prepare a special - and far too large - Christmas lunch.

When you have enough space for your cards.

When you aren't religious, so most of what Christmas should be about goes over your head.

Just another day is doing exactly what you do on any other non-work day.

I wrote similar feelings on Itchy Feet last year, and reading back over it just now, I was surprised I'd written about the memories of childhood Christmases. This year, they didn't even come to mind.

Oddly today, I did wake up not long after midnight. Probably because the cat bites were hurting. But what was going around in my head, apart from dreams of being savaged by a pack of vicious cats, was a song by Lindisfarne.

It was from the album 'Nicely out of Tune,' and wasn't a particular favourite track of mine because it was a bit dirgeful. I'm not fond of dirgeful music, unless it is part of a funeral service. So I usually skipped this track.

But my Partner liked it, in fact he likes all the tracks on the album, so these days it gets played through.

It is an appropriate song for the time of year. 'Winter Song.' One of my best husky pals reminded me that the Winter Solstice the other day marks the start of winter.

I'm not one for lyrics, so I never really listened to the words to this song. My idea of a good tune is one I can happily la-la-la along to without needing to know the boring words. You can tell that, because even now, after 40 years, I didn't realise there was a reference to Christmas in this song.

And that wasn't the line going round in my head. Because, the trouble with British folk/rock bands is that more than most bands, they sing quite clearly, and even I can pick out the odd few words.

It was this: 'Do you spare a thought for the homeless...'

Because for the homeless, Christmas Day really is just another day.

Lyrics here.

Song below.

Merry Christmas people.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve rants of the day ....

Today's post was going to be a light-hearted post about incompetent staff, parsimonious customers, and rich supermarket owners.

You can read that one later.

For now, the first part is ....

Taking the dog out of the door for his lunchtime walk, Partner noticed next-door's cat in the stairwell.

This is not the first time the cat runs rampant around the block. Doing whatever cats do when they run rampantly around blocks.

Last time, I coaxed it upstairs, we did nice cat noises together, I picked it up and we did nice purrs. Partner and dog were able to leave the block in tranquility.

Well this time the little fucker was right outside our front door. Then it ran downstairs. By the time I got down to intercede, it was stand-off time. This, for anyone who doesn't understand, is where extremely large and fast dog who adores people, children and puppies, wants to kill cats that are encroaching on his territory.

When I say wants to, I mean will. Record to date: Pippa: a couple of cats, and an extremely large vicious rat. Cats and rats: 0. A couple of claws in his nose and a scratch.

Now, a cat with nowhere to go, is just not going to win this battle. I'll spare those of you with cats and rats the details of the dog's rather efficient technique. Suffice to say it works.

I went to move the cat out of the way in the hopes I would alleviate the situation. Hissing from cat and snarling from dog. Groaning from Partner.

They went one way and I tried to placate the darling cat who had been my friend before. I picked him up. Scratch, hiss, bite, went the little bastard. I dropped the fucking thing and cursed him to hell as he ran upstairs.

'I'll catch you up when I've sorted the blood,' I called after Partner and dog. Before I knew it the Vamps would be out wanting to chase cat, dog, and suck my blood. i shot upstairs too.

Owner of cat wandered out of her flat happily.

'Your cat was downstairs,' I snarled. 'It's happened a lot recently.'

'Oh, I know. My mother let him out for three hours the other day.'

Hello. Stupid fucking cow. You know? Why does your cat have the right to run up and down the block? Huh? When there are two dogs - to our knowledge - who live in it? And we have already told you our dog is not the most cat-friendly specimen in the world?

I am sure there are no bad cats, like there are no bad dogs. I'm not exactly fond of this cat at the moment, but I'm even less fond of his stupid fucking person.

Despite blood gushing out of my hand (ok maybe not dripping all the way down the stairs) she called happily upwards for darling gatito and seemed not to notice my Significant Injury. She didn't move her idle fat arse and run up there to find him. Why would she? If she was that interested in what the cat was doing she would supervise his very annoying block excursions and wander around with him.

All I can say is, wait till the nice Doberman upstairs grows up. Heh. Heh. Heh.

And the second story is ......

Anyway, there we were in Morrisons as usual. I'd bought finger chillis, at £5 a kilo, previously called Thai chillis, and then priced at £5.99 a kilo.

Pesky woman rang them in at £5.99. I queried it. 'They're £5.99 a kilo and only 18p,' she said. And looked at me scornfully. I withered on the spot.

Really helpful Placatory Partner said maybe the sign on the shelf was wrong. I always thought they had to sell stuff at the shelf price or not at all. But I was clearly in the wrong. All ways round.

I looked at the receipt. Thai chillis at £5.99. I went back to the shelf. Finger chillis at £5. I moaned at Partner but said it was only a few pence so what did it matter.

Well, lo and behold for Christmas. He jumped on his soapbox and said 'Imagine doing that 100 times a day. In every Morrisons shop. Not even as though the staff get anything out of it. That's why their profits are so good. You go and ask for that money back.'

Ah right. Me. I have to be the one making a total plonker of myself saying this price is wrong and I want a few pence back.

I mean, his point had logic, and why should Mr Morrison have lots of my money unnecessarily? But for a few pence? Three, by the way, I had now worked it out to be.

Truth was, I'd been had before on this chilli lark. I'd bought the Thai ones, for £5.99 and been charged for the expensive ones at £6.99, but because it was only a matter of pence I didn't have the brass neck to go and complain.

He plonked the shopping bags down and insisted. I slouched up to the customer services desk and cringed. The woman looked surprised and went off to sort it. Trouble was, the nearest cashier she asked couldn't find them on her till code thing.

In the end the customer service person agreed to give me 5p off. I was wrapped. I had made all of 2p profit. I signed the form and wished her a Merry Christmas and still felt like a total arse for making such a fuss.

'You know,' said Partner, as we walked home, 'it's important to sort these things out.'

I have the feeling Santa won't be coming down my non-existent chimney tonight.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

There's the bucket, pee in it

Once upon a time, my partner went to do a job in an expensive part of the city.

Actually it was a posh suburb/village/sort of thing where aspirational people lived.

Two bedrooms, a dining room, all to be painted white, and at the time, approx cost £750. Including paint.

Partner and his employee - a smart and totally respectable young man - turned up on the job.

They were busy unloading, dust sheets, tools, equipment, paint etc, when the Lady of the House came out.

She kindly pointed out the bucket in the garage. 'That's for you to pee in.'

'Simon, load everything back in the Land Rover,' he ordered. Simon was still reeling with shock anyway. I don't think anyone had ever told him to pee in a bucket. Certainly not in Darras Hall. FFS his mother lived there. He drank with Ant and Dec (I think they are TV people).

'I'll take you to court,' said the Lady of the House.

'I don't think you'll win,' said Partner.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

You've got cancer and you're sick? Get back to work.

A good friend, who has gone through the gruelling ordeal of cancer treatment, has alerted people (on FB) to the latest really clever proposal by the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK.

Apparently having cancer does not mean you are sick. Oh no.

When I worked in the UK health service, the standard comment among clinicians was that there were three ways to treat cancer - butchery (surgery), burning (radiotherapy), and poisoning (chemotherapy).

Right, but having all those treatments so means that you are capable of going to work, having a back to work interview, and just skipping on with your life.

Hello, incredibly greedy grasping people at DWP and your political leaders. Have you thought about the impact this sort of treatment has on people? Physically? Mentally? And, do you really really think they are going to waltz into that wonderful crappily paid job you are going to offer them (anything to get people off benefit) and be able to give their absolute utmost? Maybe, they might have other things on their mind? Wondering how long they will live perhaps?

I am not a fan of Macmillan but they have organised a petition against this stupid proposal. Link here.

To summarise.

It seems that cancer patients receiving radiotherapy treatment, and those receiving non-intravenous chemotherapy (oral), have not been exempted from work interviews or medical assessments. Hell, what's a bit of radiotherapy? Or poisoning by taking tablets? No side effects from any of that surely?

But cancer patients on intra-venous chemo, ie nasty needles stuck in veins and sucking poisons for hours, were exempt.

Not unreasonably IMNRHO, cancer charities asked the DWP to end this anomaly and treat all cancer patients the same. Because, actually patients on radiotherapy and oral chemo amazingly also suffer side-effects. And possibly they do not feel very well.

Anyways the bright sparks at the DWP seemed to think that the best way to sort this was to take away the exemptions from the intra-venous chemo patients. Gosh! What a very clever way to go!! Total equality for all extremely sick patients.

I have had three good friends die of cancer this year. One of them I was lucky enough to meet before she died, the other two I didn't. The thought of any of them having to go through interviews to go back to work makes me want to poke someone's eyes out. Another friend has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer is not nice. It doesn't discriminate. The treatment is not nice either. It is invasive whether it is surgery, chemo or radiotherapy and there are physical and mental after effects whatever the treatment.

And when all these cancer patients are offered jobs while THEY ARE STILL POORLY - will they get time off with pay for chemo? Cos how many employers will want to pay for that?

I read some shite about the UK on the internet, and this one really, really, leaves me cold. Make sure you don't get cancer if you live in the UK, 'cos you need to be right back to work the day after you have been diagnosed.

After all, you are hardly sick are you? Stop bludging and claiming those benefits to which you are not entitled.

You've only got cancer,

Monday, 5 December 2011

Donna, donna, and Joan Baez? Just another hypocrite?


When I was a kid at junior school, ie below 11 years of age, we sang this song.
I couldn't sing it without crying.

Couldn't bear the thought of the poor calf being killed. Vegetarian before I knew it maybe?

Joan Baez is tougher than me. Puts human rights before animals. Her choice. Great that she takes on Czechoslovakia in 1989. But whoever speaks for the animals? And the calf with a mournful eye? Using a sad Jewish song with your beautiful voice to gain political points? Crap sweetie. However lovely your voice and your right-on politics. Even if you may possibly have been vegetarian for a few days back in 1968. Possibly.

So my dears, eat your steaks sweethearts. And enjoy. After all who gives a shit about one more dead animal if it tastes nice.

Cows are easily bound and slaughtered - of course.

Oh, and here is the lovely record with the absolutely unbeatable, almost unbearable, voice of Ms Baez.

Ms Baez who don't give a shit about animals.