Category Archives: Uncategorized

And more time in the queue…

I read a really trashy romance novel once (go figure, my friend thought it would make great holiday reading for me. I don’t know how she can know me so well and yet so badly). I can’t really remember much about the book – obviously the girl got the guy in the end.

What I do remember is the statement that it can only be good if you are in a queue to get in, because New Yorkers love to queue. It’s a stamp of approval on the eatery.

Same thing here too… usually for places that serve meat for some reason. Generally speaking this means I miss the next big thing because I am too lazy to hang around long enough for it to happen. I rely on happy coincidence. I’ve brunched once at a very trendy modern fusion Indian/Iranian spot once. But only because when I walked up to the door they let me be a walk in. Gracefully. Even though I was clearly smelly from the gym and said I would be joined shortly by a girl and a pram. I am happy to extol their virtues to others (the food was also good) but not to queue to get in. And at certain times you do queue.

So my friend suggested we go to a place known for quality but cheap steaks. Guess what? There was a queue. We thought at just before 7pm we weren’t that far behind in it. Turned out it was just the queue to get your name on the list. The wait was estimated to be 80-90 minutes. I wanted to walk right there.

For the sake of friendship I agreed to place us on the list and go somewhere. We went for a drink and I fought to find a signal in the bar we were in so I had to keep popping out to paranoidly check if we had a message.

When we went down an hour later to be informed the kitchen was shut due to some or other electrical problem.

Huh.

They offered if we emailed them on our return they would give us a free drink. Didn’t really help me all that much as they still hold a no reservations policy and for the sake of £5 for a drink, my sanity would still be stretched.

That is part of the reason I never agree to wait in a queue. It’s like getting a dress tailored for you. In theory, great idea. In fact. You just don’t know what you are committing to.

There’s an hour of life I’m not getting back and I am still craving steak as a result.

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What is democracy?

There was a big protest this weekend. People jumping up and down again about how we need another referendum because the people who voted for Brexit were obviously mistaken and have all changed their minds (according to the people protesting) and therefore the country deserves to have another shot at voting. Something about ‘the People’s Vote’.

Now whether or not you voted remain or Brexit I have an issue with these protests. A massive one. If they succeed and we have to vote again, you have undermined the whole point of democracy.

You get to have a referendum. You do a bit of research. You vote. You don’t necessarily like the consequences of that vote but THAT is the idea behind the people have spoken. If you didn’t vote then you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you didn’t do your research you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you did your research but you didn’t campaign your whole neighbourhood to take up arms and follow you BEFORE the vote you don’t get to complain. You move on and try work out how to make the result work.

I come from a country where for years a large portion of the population was denied the vote. When it was finally given, it was a gift worth standing in the sun for hours to use. A lot of people don’t like the party currently in power but the expectation is that this is something that may pass and in the meanwhile, you make your vote count or you get out and emigrate. Our history and the history of our neighbours has taught us that a FAIR democracy is supposed to involve accepting the results of a properly run election (where noone has cheated – okay this can get debatable) even if you don’t like it. If you don’t like the results and you keep redoing the election/referendum/whatever, it is no longer a democracy. It’s just a bunch of people or a person being autocratic and forcing everyone down the path you want them to follow. Just keep trying again til I get the result I want why don’t I?

A few countries succeed like this – like Singapore, where to all intents and purposes, one party has still resulted in a successfully run state. But that is the exception not the rule. Generally speaking when you have one party – or the illusion of other parties but everyone has to vote for that one ruling party who are destined to win anyways, it is NOT a democracy and moreover NOT  a nice place to live. I don’t see all of you moving to North Korea.

I’m not saying I’m pro Brexit at all. I’m not saying I’m against either. What I am against is people taking away a fundamental right I thought I was accessing in living in England. The idea that my vote meant something the first time. And yes, maybe this is bigger than one political party winning for a few years then getting voted out. But that’s just more proof that you should think more carefully before you put your sticky fingers on the ballot page next time. A wake up call because so many people here are complacent about their vote. And whatever the result of that ballot, that you find a positive way to move forward from it once it’s over.

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Filed under dreams, equality, politics, social, Uncategorized

Gotta love a Yankee

I was standing outside the bus stop last weekend. It was unusually warm – proper summer. These northern hemisphere people do not adjust to this. Aside from wearing dodgy inappropriate clothing to try get as much vitamin D exposure as possible, tempers fray. Partly because of transport issues but I believe the heat plays a factor. They still walk as fast as they do when it’s cold to keep warm. Then they overheat and get grumpy. They don’t realise that in hot places people just move extra slow and think extra slow when it gets too hot to literally not get hot and bothered about stuff you can do nothing about – like weather.

Anyways. The bus was there but the driver wasn’t letting us on. If they do it’s an additional health and safety thing I believe because then he is effectively taking responsibility for you on his bus even if it’s not time for the bus to go anywhere yet. You could still fall off a stationary non-moving chair and nut yourself on the bar on the way down.

These Americans came up behind me. Americans are a funny sort. They can be giving, loving, generous, friendly, intelligent. They can also sometimes be incredibly obtuse and need a few months out of their native land if they are from some small hick town to understand how the rest of the world works.

This lot had one of them singing the first line of the cartoon Spiderman theme tune over and over and over again. Like that was not annoying. They then went into a full rant about why this bus driver had the nerve to not just open the bus up and get moving now that they had arrived and were ready to go (as if he was waiting for them). That, at the very least he should let them go inside the bus to wait. Which made no sense because they were, all three, able bodied and boarding early would save maybe 30 seconds if that for them to get in and it was like a hot tin can pressure cooker in the bus so why the bus driver was even in there I don’t know. (UK municipal buses are NOT airconditioned).

They were quite loud in their rude tirade about the bus driver being a horrible man. I am sure he could hear them and this purposefully made him delay letting us on even further, especially when the one girl commented that her app said the bus should be leaving now and it clearly was not.

They then leaned over and started to comment disparagingly on the fact that I was playing Candy Crush while waiting to board (yes, this is a guilty pleasure of mine when standing around). It then occurred to me they may not realise the bus driver could hear them. Maybe they also thought he couldn’t understand them. Whether because they thought American English was a whole different language to British English or because they thought he was a foreigner. Because the way they were talking about ME certainly alluded to the fact that they thought I was either deaf or unable to interpret what they were saying. Kind of like when South Africans are stupid enough to think that if you speak Afrikaans in London noone will understand you. Well, yes. Someone will. ALWAYS. And if not perfectly, enough to understand if you are insulting them.

I was so tempted to ask these three if this was the case. But then I thought, it’s too hot to waste energy on this. And honestly, I’d just annoy myself because anyone dense enough to think people in England can’t understand your English is certainly not going to understand when they are being told off.

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Housing crises

Housing is a hot topic in the UK. To be honest it’s always a hot topic. In the UK, in SA, everywhere. There are always a bunch of people with waaay too much space and people with not enough and moreover no running water or heat etc etc. This issue certainly dates back to the middle ages and potentially even in cave man days there were probably people with nice snug watertight caves and people crouching under trees and damp ledges waiting to be taken out by sabre tooth tigers.

The thing that gets me with this big split in a place like London or New York is we all want to live and work as close to the centre as possible (third world countries do NOT work like that). So my dear British plus one bemoans the fact that if I had my way we’d have a bijou flatlet with a little garden in a nice central location instead of a drafty big house in the countryside that takes an hour and a half to commute to work but has a mancave shed and a garage that actually has a car and not junk in it. (Brits use garages as storage for stuff rather than cars most the time).

Either way as we are not high earners we are somewhere in the middle and have neither the bijou flat or the big house but we have a few options at least. We have managed to have a balcony and we can afford the heat, lights, water and we don’t have to share with other people. (How I don’t miss house sharing!)

I feel for the people who can’t necessarily afford all this but still have jobs in the centre of town. What the wanker bankers, politicians and other well paid professionals never seem to notice are the army of invisible minimum wage people who make the city run. Not necessarily the sanitation workers who have unions and can go on strike. But the cleaners, the sandwich makers, the coffee baristas, the bartenders and waitrons who all work for the private sector and smooth over your day. I have no idea what would happen if all these people just didn’t come into work one day. If, instead of dashing off for a quick sandwich on the fly you’d have to go buy the ingredients and make your own and you’d return to a kitchenette full of rubbish as the cleaner hadn’t been in and then you’d have to just drink your beer at home because there is noone to pour it out for you.

These are the people who live 15 to a house. Who catch a train and a bus and then walk, commuting for well over an hour on the cheapest means possible to make their pennies stretch to get to work. These are the people who don’t get big bonuses and expenses paid when they treat someone to lunch.

I’m not sure how we address this injustice. I know although I think it’s unfair I’d be even more angry if these people were suddenly just given better housing when I’m still struggling to get even close to what I’d really want in life.

But that’s the thing. Life isn’t fair and if you don’t fight the good fight, well, I guess the sabre tooth tiger gets another easy lunch. On the pleb.

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The difference between

The headline on the Metro paper today is the fact that an OAP defended himself against an attack by a burglar who was a known career criminal and that he stabbed the burglar. The burglar died and now his family have blanketed the fence near the pensioner’s house with floral tributes and scared the crap out of this 70+ year old man and his wife that they will retaliate against the violent death of their lovely loving family member. (To the point where the old man has moved out and gone into hiding elsewhere.)

Shocking story yes. It is bad someone died but the fact that you are condoning the fact that he was a criminal is, I personally think, unacceptable. He got killed in the line of duty so to speak – and as it was a crime, it is hardly fair you criminalise the guy who is probably suffering post traumatic stress syndrome for his pains to the point you are threatening him and pushing it in everyone’s faces this career criminal was somehow an upstanding citizen who needs to be valued via a series of floral tributes. (This is also because I don’t really ‘get’ floral tributes at scenes of death. After a week or so on a fence or lamppost you have a tatty mess of cellophane and brown yellow rotting flowers. I don’t really want to be remembered for a cluster of mess and litter personally. The flowers were, like the person you are messaging across the grave, already dead before you plonked them down because you cut them down in their prime – oh – is that the symbolism people are aiming at?)

But I digress. I got distracted by the initials OAP. I had to think for a moment what they meant. ‘Old age pensioner’. That, I thought to myself, is completely redundant. Obviously if you are a pensioner you are old. Although sometimes you are old and not a pensioner because you have to still work. Then I realised that was my third world self speaking.

In countries with less social help you generally do not consider yourself a pensioner until you reach a certain age. And at that age you hope for a state pension but you can’t really guarantee it will sustain you – you need savings/family/friends to help you get by within comfortable means.

I realised in Britain they have to put that ‘old age’ bit on because actually, they do sometimes have people who are not old but pensioned. Whether because of a disability or because they served their country or some very clever loophole allowing them to capitalise early. There are actually people who might be on pensions who are not technically ‘old’.

Despite so many years here I am still occasionally surprised by the differences in the first world and the ummmh not first world.

 

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The Charcoal Bun

I was in a certain fairly high end supermarket chain yesterday. The type that sells decent (if fuddy duddy) clothing and fresh produce that focuses less on ‘seasonal’ and more on ‘lovely selection of everything you could ever want from around the world’…. (never mind air miles travelled and presumably without exploiting free trade farmers in Ghana or fishermen in Vietnam or conflict zones in Israeli kibbutz.

As usual I gravitated to their little piggy sweets. They do a veggie version and one with pork gelatin in. Personally I believe if you are going to eat something with an oinker of a face, just eat the pig version. I am befuddled by the veggie version. It should be shaped like a happy brussel sprout instead.

Then I got sidetracked by this prawn sandwich with a pipette cockily hanging out of it like a syringe out of a heroin addict’s arm. The main thing that distracted me to it was the bun enclosed around the prawns was pitch black. Black on top, underneath, inside.

It was the most vulgar thing ever. It looked like a volcanic rock had split in two and engulfed a bunch of pink shellfish in the process of trying to escape from a dark and gloomy nightclub who’s walls would also be painted black with splashes of gold and red for good measure.

I was intrigued how someone thought a pitch black bun was possibly appealing. I mean, I am not a particularly fussy eater and prone to some odd choices (the day before I’d been eaten a muffin topped with runny poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, avo, chives, bacon and lobster –  yummy btw) but this thing, although aesthetically interesting, was not something I would ingest.

Not least because I had vague memories of people saying how it wasn’t good to braai every day or to eat burnt toast because these were all possibly carcinogenic. And here this roll was labelled ‘charcoal bun’. Did it actually taste like ash? Would it be like a mouth of burnt toast? Did it actually have charcoal in it? Was it actually stuffed with chaka briquettes or was it just food colouring making it like that?

I googled this bun. Some new train of trendy foodie eating seems to think that charcoal ‘purifies the system’. (You may have seen the charcoal lumps in some of these water bottles) I sort of get if liquids filtered through it maybe it catches impurities. But are you actually supposed to EAT it?

Then again, a few years back they had this thing saying eating clay was healthy and all the celebs were doing it.

And you thought stopping your toddler from sticking all sorts of dirt, sticks, rocks and bugs into it’s mouth was a bad thing.

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Almost Christmas

I can’t believe it’s meant to almost be Christmas. It’s true the shops have had their Christmas stores open and their lights up since beginning of November but I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time.

Now, however, it’s totally in your face. Two candles lit on the Advent wreath, kids singing carols on the street for money (hopefully for a charity).

My new workplace has gone all out for Christmas. The few decorations I’ve known as office Christmas decor have generally been very carefully coordinated affairs, with (often very contemporary) themes to Christmas. So it’s all red perspex or white snowflakes or traditional green living trees.

In this office they have literally thrown everything but the kitchen sink into the effort. It’s a bit like when we were kids at home when my mom would let us go mad on the house. We’d put fake mistletoe across some doorways, hang gold origami stars over the others, pull paper chains across the television, wreath the entrance and go to town with tinsel on the plastic tree. It was sort of themed in that mom bought the bulk of the decorations that made their way all across the house in one year. (Whereas the tree looked like everything gold tinsel and ornaments through the ages that were homemade, factory made, sad and broken, new and sparkly had all exploded across it at once) When first purchased the decorations were beautiful and trendy, now they are so old they are probably trendy again. Either way, I am quite nostalgic for them as they recall all my Christmases as a child when I see them.

I know with hot South African summers everything was fake and smelled of plastic. Unlike in Europe where some people do choose to have real trees shedding needles across the floor and the smell of pine forest inside.

The office didn’t want the mess though. But they did buy live poinsettias. The thing is, they also bought blue fairy lights, a white tree with silver and mauve baubles, with a stack of white and blue presents below it, a bowl of blue and white baubles with a coil of (white) fairy lights inside it, a vase of green and gold ones that just sits there and fake silver and green wreaths. All of this interspersed among the filing cabinets and desks with (I kid you not) a veritable forest of fake orange trees.

The one lady said it was beautiful and amazing and so nice they made such an effort. I looked really carefully at her face and I think she thinks she actually meant it? Personally I appreciate the effort but I wish someone had picked one theme only to run with.

Rather greedily I am enjoying the mince pies and chocolates that seem to just replenish themselves daily at the moment. (Although it is also probably accurate to say I derived more enjoyment from my old office’s weekly Friday sponsoring of cold beers in the last few hours of work)

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Lost

I lost my purse this weekend.

I am annoyed.

This has never happened to me before so I’m at a bit of a loss.

Ironically I periodically turn out the contents because I think I will lose it but I hadn’t done so lately so I lost more than I normally would.

  • Around 40-45 quid, normally not that much money in there but I had a paranoid turn about taxis and late nights and buying emergency food for a braai that particular day
  • A coffee shop card with all it’s stamps, validating a free coffee, probably worth up to £3.70
  • My drivers licence which I don’t even USE in the UK (Was using it for ID for something weeks ago) This costs £20 to replace and has my address printed on it but so far no joy with honest citizens
  • Random change from around the world, especially the States and a 2 pound coin with the London underground logo as a special print run
  • A series of store loyalty cards. My suspicion is at least one of them has over £20 on it.
  • Receipts for the last million places I have gone
  • Hopefully not two cinema vouchers I’d collected the week before, valid for any cinema within a certain franchise. Value at box office around £20
  • Bank and credit cards. Fortunately they don’t charge you to replace these in the UK but they aren’t that efficient about sending them immediately either so I’m literally cash poor now
  • One silver earring. (I lost the other one but I’ve been convinced I bought three of them so kept the earring in the hopes of finding the last triplet somewhere)

Probably about £100 if not more GONE in one go. They say the average handbag in the UK is valued at well over £250. When you remember people put their phones, ipads, house keys etc into them,  I can see how this is the case.

note to self: Weed out what is in your purse/bag more regularly because you never know when it may go for a walk. And don’t carry the non-essentials with when you don’t need them because they become essential when they are gone.

 

 

 

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Filed under anecdotes, learning, modern living, paranoia, Uncategorized

Secrets to Getting Ahead

I think I’ve said before I suck at office politics. I was reading a really interesting article by another blogger on Google interview questions though. And I went to this strange management thing where they discussed recruitment and how you test people for suitability in a group interview process. (I don’t know what I was doing there as I’m not ‘management’, I’m just the disruptive odd cog in the clockwork.) Which got me to thinking about how people advance their careers.

So my advice in moving ahead, not that I follow it, as it goes against most my principles, morals, patience and ethics not withstanding:

  • I think I’ve mentioned this before on a post. Say back in slightly different words after a ten minute interval what the big boss just said. For some reason bosses don’t seem to realise you just mimicked them and often think you are very clever for coming up with THEIR idea. Either way, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they seem to fall for this easier than one would expect
  • If it is a person of the opposite sex (or even the same sex if they are that way inclined), flirt. Subtly. But never go for drinks or anything with the person concerned. Just drop a lot of hints in meetings and around photocopiers about your abilities
  • Create a posse. Gather everyone on your level and below and make them feel good about themselves. Have them reporting back to you as your eyes and ears to all possible developments you can abuse. Also, they are handy at covering for you when you are late/hung over/bad at your job.
  • Bring food into the office. People really are that shallow. You have to be tactical in that you ‘just love baking’ or ‘was just passing the store at lunch and thought we could all do with a little lift’ but some people do really mistake a few biscuits for generosity and your being a team player even while you are busy stabbing daggers into a coworkers back
  • Don’t come in late but it doesn’t really pay to come in early. Rather hover around and try outstay your boss by a couple of minutes a few times a week then rush out the door when they have left. It makes them think you are a superhard worker.
  • Run don’t walk to meetings, this also deludes the boss you are really busy and packing your hours in.
  • Volunteer for whatever after hours activity suggested, no matter how stupid, whether a team sport or babysitting the boss’s kid
  • Ask people a lot of questions about themselves and nod in deep interest and agreement. Never sound like you know the answer to what they are saying but imply they are vastly superior in knowledge and experience, no matter how stupid or novice they are. (This flatters senior management AND the posse you are collecting)
  • Always look eager to please.
  • Dress as if every day you are going for a job interview.
  • Cultivate an interest in whatever sports/teams/hobbies your boss and colleagues partake/follow so you can make general silly small talk with them at any point.
  • Kiss a lot of ass. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but sadly it does…

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Filed under modern living, motivation, Uncategorized, work

Scarlett

I’ve been reading ‘Scarlett’, the continuation to ‘Gone with the Wind’.

Mind you, I haven’t been able to read the book chronologically as large tracts of it are set in Ireland which seems highly improbable, along with Scarlett being unladylike enough in that day and age to ride astride instead of side saddle.

The fact is, the sequel is an enjoyable read but you can tell the original author was not involved in it and a lot of the charm has gone. The joy of Scarlett is she is a pure unadulterated selfish bitchy little Southerner. She is good at business when it’s meant to be a man’s world and she’s pretty but she doesn’t understand subtle gestures or herself.

The original book also glorifies unintentionally the Southern way of life, how the darkies were taken care of, like any valuable livestock and were loyal and true, how Southern men were gentlemen willing to die for and with honour.

The author of the sequel is unable to glamorise slavery and the fall from it. Some historical facts ring true, other elements of Scarlett’s life just sound too unlikely and out of character for someone with Scarlett’s upbringing. Her choices in the first book were bound by a desperation she doesn’t have in the second to succeed against famine and poverty.

Scarlett has grown up and developed as a person. Probably similar to Harper Lee’s Scout, this was inevitable and inevitably I would resent it. But it’s the bits that seem inaccurate to the times that annoy, likewise when Scarlett makes a decision that doesn’t seem to respect the times.

Good read but realistically, I don’t think she was meant to get Rhett and the premise of the whole book begins to fall apart when hinging mostly off how she tries to do this. She may have been stalking Ashley previously but a big event called the Civil War certainly derailed her train of thought in many ways.

Also Rhett had far more gumption and drive and knew her better than she knew her…

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