Monday, July 24, 2006
As I have been working today, her ladyship was appointed honorary shopping chaperone to Mrs Beeton in my absence. I have received three phone calls so far.
Call number one;
"Mum, where's the pomegranate juice kept?"
"Urm, aisle two I think sweetie, who's that for, it's not on my list, and Grandma doesn't drink it does she?"
"No, an old guy just asked me where it was. Thanks. Bye."
Call number two;
"Mum, mum she's got the trolley, I'm sorry she just took it while I wasn't looking. Gran, GRAN, don't..!" Click.
Call number three;
"Ok, if you ever offer my services again, I'll put myself up for adoption or I'll call childline."
"Oh come on sweetie, just remember you are your mother's daughter, and by the way, nobody wants to adopt 22 year olds they're too expensive, and I don't think childline will be interested either."
"It's no joke mum, do you know what she did to me?"
Stiffling the urge to giggle, "No, what?"
"Are you laughing at me?"
"No, no darling I would never,"
"She made me hold her hand when we were crossing the road,"
Excuse me while I go and pour myself another tall cool drink... it's a dirty job but someone has to do it. ;0)
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Everyone will be there, His Lordship and I, JT and her husband, and the international playboy, my brother, the grooms father. He will be flying in from Moscow where he currently lives with his latest girlfriend. Well I assume she will be in tow unless he has traded her in for the newest model. The women in his life are somewhat akin to his taste in cars, sleek and racy. They rarely survive past the MOT stage. The Captain sadly will not be able to attend, the travelling would be too much. But we will report back in full and with glossy photos and he has of course been party to our research, mainly in the form of watching 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and 'Zorba the Greek' whilst snacking on copious amounts of Greek food downed with ouzo. So everything is running along tickety boo?
NO! I have just discovered that I haven't a thing to wear... no really I mean it, I have nothing to wear. You see in the packing frenzy of just a couple of months ago I put all of my dresses into storage, even my beloved 1950s designer numbers, the girls are currently languishing in a storage facility heavens knows where, in the dark, alone and unloved. Sniff. So today I will hit the shops in an attempt to find something befitting the occasion. It's an absolute nightmare, not only do I have to find something that I like, but it also has to be co-ordinated with JT's outfit.
You see the problem is that we do look very much alike, we have been mistaken for each other on numerous occasions. Slightly distressing for her taking into account some of my more recent shopping excursions! So in order to avoid the whole 'peas in a pod' reaction I asked her the other day what she would be wearing. She hasn't decided yet! My lovely sister is the Queen of indecisiveness, but only when shopping. A shopping trip with JT is a marathon of hope and despair. Hope that we will actually buy anything that she has picked up, tried on or mused over. Despair that when she does manage to get to the till with it, you know that you will probably be returning the following week to said till with the same item to be returned. I have however managed to narrow down the colours that she may, or may not, be wearing.
So wish me luck in my little quest, I have no doubts whatsoever that as on past occassions, we will manage to turn up in very similar outfits. One or both of us will have a last minute change of outfit, what can I say we're sisters.
Have you ever tried to find your own clothes in the pitch dark in a fitting room full of clothes. When the assistant finally managed to locate a torch and lead us out onto the shop floor, I felt positively relieved with my make shift ensemble, ok so none of it matched and only one item of clothing was in actual fact my own, but one poor woman emerged with a pair of trousers that were two sizes two small so they were not fastened and a T-shirt that was on back to front and inside out.
However the worst part was being forced to leave the shopping centre and stand in the car park. We did get some rather funny looks. Not least because we were coralled together by the security gaurds, just in case any of us should have any naughty thoughts of making off. I have to say that I don't think any of us would have gone anywhere. The lady with the tiny trousers and big bottom was'nt going anywhere fast, and the rest of us would have made excellent stand ins for the dummies in a charity shop display.
Ah well better luck tommorow.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
It was a post by my friend kim over on her blog that got me thinking about this one, thanks Kim. We have certain laws that protect consumers, one in particular which states that an item must be fit for the purpose for which it is sold. Simply put it should basically do what it says it will do or perform as it says it will perform. If it does not them you are entitled to return it and either get a replacement or a refund. Simple. However it occurred to me does this law also apply to sex toys? So in the interests of consumer knowledge I set off to the high street and our local Ann Summers store.
Now although this is a 'sex shop' it does have the ability to carry itself with integrity in high streets and malls thoughout the country. Therefore one would assume that as it has shaken off the sleazy mantle that most of it's kind previously had it should offer the consumer the same protection as other high street stores.
On entering the shop I was greeted by a very pleasant young woman who kindly offered me a basket and a leaflet with their latest special offers. As I glanced through the leaflet I pondered in what shape the 50% extra free came!! I meandered through the racks of lingerie with their frills, feathers, leather, PVC, peek a boos and open crotches then on further into the depths here they kept the dressing up clothes, nurses, schoolgirls, catwoman, bunny girl, clown... clown! I'm sorry chaps but have I missed something here? Eventually I stumbled upon the 'toyshop', hurray my quest begins.
After a brief recky I discovered that there are quite literally hundreds to choose from, handbag sized, pocket sized, small, medium, large, superdooper, king kong, pink, red, luminous lime green, in case it's dark, five speed gear box, hydraulic breaking, sorry just kidding. So without further ado I began to select a variety for my basket. I chose what I considered to be a reasonable cross section of what was on offer. In the interests of fair play you understand. With my basket of goodies I headed for the till. I smiled my most innocent smile,
"Do you have a returns policy?" I enquired
"What do you mean?" The sales assistant asked cautiously.
"Well I assume I can return them if they are not 'right',"
"Not.. right. In what way?"
"Well until I've tried them out I won't know if they, well you know dear, work!"
She blushed furiously, "We, we couldn't possibly accept them back if, well I mean in the event, they've been used madam,"
"But how will I know if they 'work'?
"Work!" She stammered.
"Well if I were buying lingerie, you would let me try them on wouldn't you to see if they fit properly?"
"That's different madam, you see we have fitting rooms,"
"Oh, I hadn't seen those dear, can you direct me to them?" I asked.
Suddenly I had the feeling that old sinking feeling, as a door just to the right of the till burst open and out walked the Manageress. Suffice to say that she had at some point in her past had a humour bypass and was in no mood to discuss the matter further. Even when I did point out that as a consumer I have rights. Fit for the purpose, performs as it is supposed to perform etc. And so I was left to venture home with my little bag of goodies and no hope of returning them, as apparently in relation to dildos and vibrators there are in actual fact rather hazy performance criteria. Ah hem not wishing to be indelicate, but is it a case of hmm, that was nice, fancy a cuppa, or at the other end of the scale Meg Ryan's cafe scene and then some!! Obviously as a saint dear readers I am unable to comment. All was not lost however on my shopping trip, in their special offer sheet they were offering three packs of rechargable batteries for the price of two!
This is St Jude Mmr, Cjd, Nut, Dip Py, until my next assignment, signing off.
...and finally for the gentlemen reading this, I can unequivocally reassure you that size does not matter. Speed settings on the other hand... ;0)
Monday, July 17, 2006
The air conditioning units are located at the back of the building, a large bank of them. During my first week there I watched as they erected a high metal fence around them with spikes on the top. No body was going to get into those little babies. Then two weeks later I noticed that the fence men were back. I watched with intrigue this time as they began to put a series of flat metal bars directly over the spikes, and then a few days later a roof over the entire area. I watched with some incredulity as the fence men clambered up the side of the fence and hoisted themselves onto the roof. Giving the occasional wave to those people inside the first floor offices.
Hmm, there is something not quite right with this scenario, even more so when you take into account the work that we do and the people that we work with. Safety is paramount. It would also appear that the safety of the morally challenged when going about their business is paramount. Some bright young Herbert apparently felt that the nasty spikes could cause injury to one of the aforementioned MC's if they were attempting to get into the air conditioning units. So as this is government and health and safety not to mention the abject fear of being sued, is all important, the 'top brass' decided it should be made ultra safe. Now they can't hurt themselves on the nasty mean spikes anymore and they can't fall into the units as there is now a roof.
I wonder if the same bright Herbert considered that the MC's can however now access the windows to our first floor offices thanks to the lovely ladder and platform that has been provided!! Under a barrage of protests from the first floor, an email was sent out which informed them that they are now barred from opening the office windows at the back, for 'health and safety' reasons.
It's alright though I hear you cry, they have air conditioning now and so they don't need to open their windows anymore. WRONG!! this is a government department. It would seem that nobody enquired to see if the electricity supply is up to the new task. It isn't. So by a stroke of genius, some one, possibly the same young Herbert on the fence front, has come up with the 'ideal' solution. We have the air conditioning on a rota basis. Last week it was our turn, this week it is the fourth floor, and so on, it will be the second week in August before we get to play with it again. Until then, in temperatures today of over 35 degrees, the poor devils on the first floor couldn't even open their windows, unlike the rest of us who do not reside on the fourth floor. But there is hope, the electriciy supplier has said that they should be able to get the upgraded cabling done in September!! Thanks chaps, roll on the second week in August then.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
So yesterday after yet another day sitting in a training room, I steeled myself for the role of supervising pensioner shopping. On arrival at her house we had to do the 'pre-flight' checks, reading glasses, check, shopping list, check, purse, check, toilet... several minutes later, check, cardigan, check, oh come on it was only 25 degrees outside. So after much manouvering she was safely belted into the car and we were on our way.
"Are you sure you don't mind taking me, you've been at work all day?" Mrs Beeton ventured as we backed out of the drive.
"No, no it's fine," I reassured her.
"I don't mind if you want to go another time, I don't want to put you out,"
"No it's ok honestly,"
"Are you sure?"
There was a silence for a few moments.
"We always liked to go mid afternoon, that's when you get the best bargains. Everyone will have gone from work now and they'll have got there first," she announced. Have I mentioned that Mrs Beeton likes to get her own way!
"Well unfortunately I can't take you during the afternoon. I'm sure they won't have run out of milk or bread, or anything else on your list." I reassured her.
"I need dog food,"
"You don't have a dog!"
"No but I like to have some in. Just in case."
At this point I decided that my mind would be better utilised concentrating on the rush hour traffic. Pulling into the supermarket car park my heart sank. There were obviously a lot of people doing their shopping. This meant that we would have to park some distance from the door. We would have a bit of walk. Mrs Beeton has two speeds when walking, doddery old lady, and infuriatingly slow old lady. Today she chose the later. By the time we reached the trolley pick up there was a traffic jam as far as the main road.
Mrs Beeton stood to one side waiting for me to bring her a trolley. Having taken care to select one that had all four wheels in tact and pointing in the same direction I handed it over to her. Now I don't know about anyone else, but I remember when certain supermarkets used to provide miniature trolleys that had huge poles with brightly coloured flags on them, for children. The flags warned other shoppers to watch out for them. Well I suggest the same rule be applied to pensioners when given charge of trolleys, in particular Mrs Beeton. So several deep breathing exercises later we entered the affray.
By the end of the first aisle, she had managed to cripple two people and left them hopping for cover, and place half of the items she had selected into several 'unattended' trolleys, none of which were hers, with me in stealth mode attempting to retrieve the items before the trolley owners were any the wiser. I did unfortunately get rumbled on the last occasion much to the chagrin of the aforementioned owner, who happened to be a burly six foot chap with tattoos covering most of his exposed arms. After withering under his glare, I hot footed it to the bakery section. Too late, Mrs Beeton was up to her waist in Warburtons finest. Loaves littered the floor, other shoppers could only stare in disbelief as the store assistants frantically tried to clear a path for the sweet little old dear now ploughing her way through them in the direction of the cake section, oblivious it would seem to the carnage she had just caused.
After several attempts to wrestle the trolley from her grasp, without success, I decided I had, had enough and so I headed to the book section for some respite. I had barely had time to read the blurb on a couple of jackets before a tannoy announcement tore my thoughts back into focus.
"Clean up required in aisle's 3, 5, and 8... just a minute, make that 10 as well."
Hesitantly I emmerged from my refuge and went in search of Mrs Beeton. I didn't have to look far as another casualty hopped into view from the direction of the freezer aisle. As I passed aisle 10 the clean up party was in full swing, an entire centre display of cream cakes now lay battered under an upturned table. I finally caught up with Mrs Beeton as she was being escorted to the checkout by the store manager and a security guard. For one moment I thought about escaping and running for the car, unfortunately the sight of her looking rather flustered and not a bit peeked at the indignity of being 'helped' out made me change my mind. Several more 'sorrys' and a promise not to leave her unattended or to let her push the trolley in future secured our re-admission for our next senior shopping trip. Oh goody I can't wait.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
When I was a girl, and no that was not in the days of gas lamps and horses and carts thank you, I enrolled on a pre-nursing course. This involved part of my time at college and part working in a hospital. The idea was to give us some experience of nursing and to allow us to complete some of the academic work required before we reached eighteen at which age we could apply to train as nurses.
I was placed at a hospital in the next city to ours on the male medical ward. It was, as many still were in those days, a very large sprawling old Victorian hospital with gothic arches and turrets. The wards were still then very much as they had been in Victorian times, large, long rooms with very high windows and ceilings and wooden floors. Each ward had about twenty beds running down either side. At the entrance to each ward there was a sluice room to one side and a kitchen to the other, then there would be the store room and opposite Sister's office. The nurses had a work table in the centre of the ward. This was in the days when Sister ruled the ward and Matron ruled the hospital.
As the 'baby' on the ward I was assigned the tasks that were befitting my station in life. Flower arranging, taking temperatures, help with feeding, bedpans and bottles and last but by now means least the dreaded ritual of the nightly cleaning of the false teeth. Oh how I relished that task. In the evening just before I was due to finish and it was lights out, I would go around the ward with my little trolley and collect the pots from the bedside cabinets with the false teeth in them. Then it was off to the sluice room to give them all a lovely brush and polish so that everyone would have nice shiny gnashers ready for doctors rounds the following morning.
Well that is how it was supposed to happen. It was nearing Christmas and I had arranged to meet my new beau, his Lordship, we were both seventeen and of course we were both the only thing on each others minds back then. So as the clocked ticked ever closer to 7pm and the end of my day, my mind began to wander. I was in a hurry and so I dashed from bed to bed collecting the little pots of goodies and stacking them onto the trolley. We had a lot of toothless chaps on the ward back then and there were a lot of pots. My mission complete I raced back up the ward, trying to hurry but without directly running, Sister would have had my guts for garters if she had caught me running on her ward.
It was now 6.30 and as I stared at the mound of pots , the realisation dawned on me that I was going to be late. How was I going to get them all brushed and polished and back in time to leave at 7.00. Then I had an idea! Back in those days we didn't have disposable bedpans, they were metal, we did however have a whizzy bedpan washing machine. It consisted of a sink with nozzles all around that sent high power jets of boiling water into the pan. Hurray, my salvation. And so without further ado I set about emptying the contents of the twenty nine little pots I had acquired into the bedpan washer. With a satisfied smile I put down the lid and turned it on. A few minutes later I lifted the lid to find lovely gleaming teeth. A quick polish with a cloth and they were all safely popped back into their pots. Happily I skipped back down the ward delivering them back to their owners bedside. Now I think I should at this stage point out that I was a mere child, who in those carefree days of youth knew very little about false teeth, they all looked very much the same to me.
His Lordship and I had a lovely evening together and with a warm glow that only young love can give I meandered into college the following morning. I was greeted with a note on my locker telling me that I should report at once to the Senior Nursing Tutor. So as the dutiful student that I was I made my way to her office. I knocked and was summoned to enter. At once I could see that she was flustered, the red face and hand wringing might have given the game away. She told me that she had received a telephone call from Sister, it appeared that none of the patients ate their breakfast, they were all experiencing problems with their teeth. I was flabbergasted, I assured her that I had cleaned them properly, in fact I was so impressed with my ingenuity that I explained the new and time efficient way I had discovered to clean the patients teeth.
Suffice to say that neither she nor Sister were as impressed with my problem solving abilities. Apparently it took several days of swapping and testing to match the right teeth to the right owners. One old boy had a permanent grin for three days until another patient's wife realised that he was wearing her husbands teeth. I left the course shortly after that and decided that both nursing and I would be better suited on different paths. It was the right decision, I would never have experienced the wonderful variety of work that I have if I had taken the time to brush false teeth instead of using a little lateral thinking.
Monday, July 03, 2006
It is official, we are in the grip of a heatwave. Those nice people on the BBC have said so. Yes two consecutive days with temperatures over 30 degrees constitutes a heatwave here in good old blighty!
So it was with this in mind that I donned my body armour before entering work today. You see the heat has a decidedly nasty effect on the morally challenged. They become increasingly more irritable, increasingly more drunk and increasingly more dangerous. The heat brings out the worst in them. Ok so I accept that we can all get a little irritable when we are hot, but remember that these people already live on the dark side of society.
So I headed down to reception with not a little trepidation, but hey ho, I'm a grown woman I can handle this. As the lift opened I just knew that this was not going to be a good day. Two young men had already succumbed to the heady delights of too much sun and alcohol, it was 10.00am. They were laid face down in the foyer. Don't worry, I checked, they were ok, so I stepped over them and headed through into reception.
"Did you know you have a couple of bodies in the foyer?" I asked Betty the receptionist.
She stood up and leaned over the counter, sighing, she nodded. Yes, she knew as well as I that today was going to be fun.
"Still breathing?" she enquired as she sat back down.
"Still breathing." I replied.
I looked around the seating area, the usual array of shady characters, each trying not to make eye contact, checking out the detritus under their fingernails, contemplating their navels, picking their noses. Armed with the trusty swipe I let myself into the reception office. The phones were ringing off the hook. Always happy to help I picked up the phone nearest me.
"Hello how can I help you?"
Thirty five minutes later and several cancelled appointments with miscellaneous excuses ranging from mum not leaving the bus fare, ah bless, to not being able to get their backside out of bed, and the absolute top of the league,
'I woz out wi me mates last night when some bloke broke me nose', hmm, the bloke in question broke the aforesaid nose whilst being head butted by the nose owner!!
Heading back to the lift I was pleased to note that the foyer ornaments had managed to crawl away somewhere less conspicuous. Unfortunately one of them had left a rather yukky deposit before departing. Once again I headed back to reception, now half full, and the bucket cupboard. Copious amounts of lovely lemon scented detergent was the order of the day for this little job. Just as I finishing up my Mrs mop routine, I felt a shadow fall silently across the foyer. Turning I saw a huge giant of a man looming large in the doorway. I smiled nervously.
"Hello," he said smiling benignly.
"Hello. Reception is through those doors," I motioned with my marigolded mit.
"Are you the cleaning lady?"
"Well at the moment it would appear so wouldn't it." I collected up my assorted cloths and bucket and went back into the reception office. Betty looked up, distracted again by the phone. Back in the foyer waiting for the lift, I noted the familiar shadow once again.
"Hello nice lady."
"Hello there," I replied
"Where are you going now?"
"I work upstairs. You need to go and check in with reception dear, and I need to be getting back to work." I hit the lift call again.
Oh goody, I'm having a conversation with rainman's best friend.
Suddenly the shadow was a presence, rather too close for my liking. I stepped to the side a little, I felt arms length was in order.
"I'm not supposed to talk to ladies," he announced suddenly
gulp, "well then maybe you should go and sit down and wait for your officer to come and get you,"
"I don't want to, I want to talk to you... you're nice aren't you."
I could hear the lift coming, I could also hear the words of my Manager ringing in my ears, 'don't let anyone you don't know into the lift, gunman, rapist...' I decided the lift might not be the best idea. So once again I turned toward reception, rainman's pal following. I looked over to Betty for a little moral support, no joy she was deep in discussion with a rather inebriated young woman. Who, despite her condition and the situation, brought out the Grandma in me, I pushed a hankie in front of her, and motioned that she might want to wipe away the milk moustache she had acquired while trying to sober herself up a little before her appointment. Giggling she swatted her lip, Betty glowered, the girl must have been no more than seventeen.
I turned and headed to the door leading to the back stairwell, Rainman's pal a few paces behind. As I reached the door I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.
"Where you going now nice lady?"
"I've told you dear, I have to go back to work. Now go and sit on a chair and wait for your officer. You'll get into a lot of trouble if you don't behave yourself."
"I'm not supposed to talk to ladies. They make me feel funny. I like feeling funny." At that his hand descended to the depths of his trousers.
Alrighty, a new tack was definitely in order, "Right, plonk your arse down on that chair now or you'll be in BIG trouble, do you hear me," I ordered.
His eyes hit the floor and he scuttled away to the nearest chair. Out of my eye corner I could see a young man frantically re-engage his nose in a picking frenzy,
"and you stop picking your bloody nose, your head will cave in one day."
With that I bustled out into the stairwell with the reassuring clunk of the door as it locked behind me. As the day proceeded to heat up so did the tempers of those in reception, only a minor riot, a couple of broken chairs and a lot of shouting and door slamming. I suddenly discovered that I have a new respect for Betty the receptionist, her cool, seemingly offhand manner, her lack of engagement with the 'clients'. We all have to learn the tactics that will protect us, they may be physical, verbal, or when you are on the front line emotional.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
'As the 11 British divisions walked towards the German lines, the machine guns started and the slaughter began. Although a few units managed to reach German trenches, they could not exploit their gains and were driven back. By the end of the day, the British had suffered 60,000 casualties, of whom 20,000 were dead: their largest single loss. Sixty per cent of all officers involved on the first day were killed.'
Can you imagine 20,000 people, men and boys. If not then the next time you are in town, at a shopping mall, or walking through the city, take a look around you. Imagine everyone of those people that you see just disappearing, it still won't be 20,000! Now imagine them lying on the ground, dead, bloodied from the machine gun rounds that have shattered their bodies and torn them apart, imagine you are clambering over them to get to where you need to be, some of them you have known all of your life, your brothers, cousins, uncles, father, sons, friends, neighbours and work colleagues.
When Kitchener's recruiters arrived then the 'volunteers' poured in. They were sold on the idea of a jolly jaunt to a foreign land, heroic and patriotic endeavours. They were sold the idea that they would be home for Christmas. They were sold down the river, without a paddle, a prayer or a care. As their Mothers, Wives, and Sweethearts bid them farewell it was with a sense of pride in their menfolk, pride that they were going to fight for their country, defend the honour of a nation and a way of life. They would roust the Hun and be victorious. Too soon that pride turned to grief, as those same menfolk they had cheered on their way were cut down in a matter of hours.
Whole villages and communities found themselves without men, the men who had supported them. There was no state assistance in those days. The women had to fend for themselves. It wasn't just the women who suffered. When I lived in Kent, I lived near a small wood that had for centuries been coppiced and worked. Then the men of the village joined up to their local pals battalion. They never returned. The wood fell into disuse and became overgrown. Not only were there not the people to work the wood, but in their passing they took with them the knowledge of how to manage the woodland. It was only after decades of research that the generations that followed discovered some of that knowledge and again, in their honour' began to work the wood again. I spent many hours there, wandering among the trees that they had planted and cared for, walking the ditches they had dug to soak the young branches. As I walked I felt their prescence and thought of them often.
By all the glories of the day and the cool evening’s benison.
By that last sunset touch that lay upon the hills when day was done.
By beauty lavishly outpoured and blessings carelessly received.
By all the days that I have lived make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of all man’s hopes and fears, and all the wonders poets sing.
The laughter of unclouded years, and every sad and lovely thing.
By the romantic ages stored with high endeavour that was his.
By all his mad catastrophes make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill saw with uncomprehending eyes.
A hundred of thy sunsets spill their fresh and sanguine sacrifice.
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword must say good-bye to all of this.
By all delights that I shall miss, help me to die, O Lord.
(A member of the Leeds Pals who died just two days after this poem was published in July 1916)
Just take a moment from your day, and think of them and the families they left behind.