What’s in a title?

I decided to join the Co-operative today. As you may know, this is a worldwide shared ownership group with a community spirit, which started in Rochdale, UK in 1844. They have all sorts of laudable principles, and if you become a Member, you are entitled to – amongst other things – a share of the profits.

The fact that they are co-operative sets them apart from most other businesses with which they compete. But in applying online to join, I discovered another difference which I can only describe as eccentric. Continue reading

Don’t blame the parents

Whenever you see mothers driving their kids around in 4×4’s you may be tempted to blame them for imminent world destruction. Not only have they contributed to the swelling population of planet earth, but they are moving their progeny about on its surface in a way which simply fills the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. You may view this as irresponsible, short-sighted, and not in anyone’s interest but their own. You may explain their decision to reproduce as unthinking fulfilment of some narcissistic need.

However, I would ask you to pause before leaping to judgment. Continue reading

Beware of the protection racket!

Earlier in the year our burglar alarm control box started overheating. We phoned Hi-Tec Security Ltd who originally installed it, and they sent an engineer. He diagnosed and rectified the fault in half an hour, and charged us £109.86.

Here’s the breakdown:

Callout: £30.00
Labour: (@ £39.00 per hour) £19.50
Battery £44.00
VAT £16.36

Now, you might think I would have an issue with the callout charge. Their office is, after all, only 1 km away. Not at all. I am quite happy to accept that there is a flat rate, and £30.00 is the sort of figure companies charge. Similarly, £39.00 per hour labour is reasonable.

What I do object to, Continue reading

Walk this Way

Last weekend some friends and I got together for some serious walking along the Cotswold Way. It was a reunion of university friends who first met in 1975 and who have kept in touch ever since. That makes us quite old now, which means that I think we can rightly be proud that a) we have stuck together all this time, and b) we managed a 22 kilometre walk without dying or even needing medical assistance.

Dave had organised the whole thing. I drove down to Ilmington on the Friday and spent the evening with Dave and his partner Liz. That was when Dave broke it to me that his black labrador Ella would be sleeping in our shared hotel room the following night!

We drove to the rendezvous at the Seven Springs pub where the A436 and A435 intersect south of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Already there were Michèle and her husband Rob (the only one not of the original ’75ers), Dick and his wife Sue, and Kate. Rob handed out some Herbalife protein bars with dodgy ‘use by’ dates, and we set off. All of us, that is except Michèle who has chronic back pain. She had volunteered to ferry all our luggage to the destination hotel in Painswick.

The weather was dry and cool, but unlike the previous day Continue reading

Stilltacome! More stuff

Television news and current affairs programmes generally follow a pretty staid formula. True, they have experimented with variations over the years. Person behind desk; two people behind desks; person standing nowhere near a desk; even person standing on a ledge accessed by metal ladder. To liven things up, the talking head(s) in the studio frequently introduce an outside broadcast clip or even have a video chat with a shivering colleague out in the field.

All this effort to keep us watching! And nowadays, they tempt us to keep our fingers off the remote by reciting a list of other items they intend to cover. You know instantly that it’s list-time because they say ‘Stilltacome!’ beforehand. Continue reading