All Change

A staff member stood at the entrance to Wilko, apologising that the computers were down and they were only taking cash. I was vindicated, smugly waltzing in with a £20 note in my purse. Anybody who has been to Wilko’s will know you can get quite a few things for £20.

How many of us have been ’treated’ to a meal by younger relatives only to see them turn from the till and say ‘Have you got any cash on you, the card machine is broken.’

Will cash be phased out, should it disappear? Covid hastened the avoidance of real money in those early pandemic days, when we were told to avoid touching anybody or anything. Even shops that had been cash only started accepting cards. Anyone who has hands that don’t work properly, whether through stiff joints or peripheral neuropathy, will ruefully remember their school days; Saturday shop jobs when they were amused to see old people tip the whole contents of their purse onto the counter, as they could not see the coins properly. Swiping your piece of plastic, phone or watch could be seen as a great way to avoid fumbling around as the queue at the till builds up behind you. So why should we preserve the Royal Mint?

How can children learn about money if they can’t see it and see their pocket money disappear when they buy comics and sweets? Who doesn’t look back fondly at jobs where their weekly pay came in a brown envelope. If your salary goes straight in the bank you never see your hard earned money.

You may be reluctant to buy a coffee if you have to break into a shiny new note, but loose change is handy, vital for lots of things. Putting the smallest coins in your piggy bank probably won’t amount to a holiday, but you can have fun pouring the contents into a Coinstar machine or taking a bagful of coins to an amusement arcade. If you are selling raffle tickets at your club’s evening event you hope everyone has real money in their pockets. At the library coffee morning there may be glares if you have no coins to drop in the ‘voluntary contribution‘ tin.  Then there are the times parents have used a coin to unlock the door of the cubicle in the public toilets when their child was locked in…

Counting up other times I need cash there is the Big Issue seller ( yes I know some of them have card machines now, but ours haven’t ) , spending less than £5 at the greengrocers and putting a pound in the saucer for the Wick Ferry.

Money is part of our national identity and a highlight of your first holiday abroad is working out the ‘foreign money.’

Do you take cash out with you? Wads of notes because you are laundering money or just a fiver and a few coins?

Guerrilla Shopping

Guerrilla shopping in its purest form means only ever using cash, it is the opposite and perhaps the antidote to the big shop. When you go to Superco and use your plastic, phone or watch to pay and swipe your Happy Superco Shoppers’ card to earn points ‘they’ know exactly what you have bought, how much you have spent and when. In seconds your lifestyle has been assessed by Algo Rithm. We don’t know who he is, but do we want him to know everything about us? He has friends everywhere so anything could happen. When you go to the doctors or clinic to have your diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol etc checked they will frown at you and say

 ‘Hmm, I see you bought a bottle of whisky, two giant Toblerones, a dozen Cadbury Crème Eggs and no fruit or veg last week.’

The guerrilla shopper slips under the radar, using every shop in his neighbourhood and beyond, buying a few items at each, never visiting any location at a regular time or day. There is no record of what he spends, eats or reads.

There are many other reasons for being a guerrilla shopper, apart from being a criminal or paranoid. If you are on a tight budget you can take advantage of the best prices and offers and get your clothes and crockery at charity shops.

If you do not drive and wish to avoid Dearburys’ Delivery knowing exactly where you live as well as what you eat, then you must shop at every opportunity, buying only what you can carry, fit on your bike or clamber onto the bus with.

Adventure is a popular reason for guerrilla shopping, providing excitement without going hunting or to a war zone and fun without going on holiday. Guerrillas do not ‘go shopping’ they go on an expedition to find vital supplies. Will you manage to get enough for dinner, perhaps come back with a surprise bargain from the charity shop?

Even in rural areas the guerrilla should be able to shop; the milk machine at the dairy farm shop where you put your coins in and fill your reusable bottle, the free range eggs with the honesty box at the farm gate in a lonely lane, farmers’ markets and ‘pick your own’ fields…

In Southbourne Grove we have a treasure trove of shops, the only place we’ve lived which has gone up rather than downhill. As well as Sainsbury Local, Tesco Express, CoOp and One Stop, the guerrilla shopper could buy one onion in the greengrocers, a chicken leg at the butchers, a roll at the bakers and brooms and batteries at Southbourne General Store. There are also all the shops you could want for gifts or leisure and plenty of coffee stops. The only thing we and other shopping areas have not got any more are banks…

If you are using cash you still have to get it from somewhere. Cash machines mean you have to use your card; Algo Rithm will know you have been there and a hidden camera will take your photo…

Have you tried guerrilla shopping? ~What are your favourite shops?

Verbum Anni

While others were posting their 22 achievements for 2022 and their 23 goals for 2023 on Facebook, I had got as far as putting the washing machine on. As bloggers wrote about their Word of the Year I was contemplating making chicken stock, checking the washing machine filter and finishing my Christmas cards.

On the writing and blogging front in the early 2020’s I have not had a novel on virtual tour, excitedly revealed my new cover or started a new novel.

If I am going to choose a word of the year perhaps it could be TIDY. Tidying is an unavoidable activity closely linked to cleaning; both are tasks that take us away from more creative pursuits. Whether you are tidying up after Christmas visitors or faced with dusting when you take your cards and decorations down, most of us start the year with tidying of some sort. We might even enjoy the virtuous feeling of getting the year off to a good start and after vacuuming turn to our computer to tidy up our internet banking or our digital lives.

Perhaps one of my aims for 2023, apart from starting a novel, could be to learn Latin. I love the brevity of Latin; Word of the Year replaces four words with two, Verbum Anni. It would take us half the time to write and read blogs if we all wrote them in Latin.

Do you have a word of the year or some worthy aims? Will you trek to Everest Base Camp or tidy your sock drawer?

NOVUS ANNUS

Chatbot

My TV box is not working.

I am just a chatbox, I am putting you through to a human agent.

I am sorry we are experiencing delays with agent contacting you, we are experiencing a high level of compl… enquiries.

Do I have time to make a cup of tea?

Thankyou for your patience, an agent will be with you as soon as possible, but there may be a long wait.

Does that mean I have time to go to the toilet?

Thankyou for your patience, our customers are very important to us. So our agent can deal quickly with you can you answer sixteen security questions…What is your account number in roman numerals? How much was your last payment in $US?…

We are sorry to know you are experiencing a fault with your services. i see a clear note by our field technician working on site and they have given us a deadline to complete this. We can see there is a fault in the area causing it. As we making some improvements to our network at the moment, so we can make sure we’re giving you the best service possible. This means that you will be experiencing a loss of your Broadband, Voice and TV service(s) in the area for a short time. Everything should be back to normal today on 24th November 2022 09:00 broadband issue will be resolved completely

Today is 17th November…

 This will be complete fixed on 24th of November and most of the customers in your area are facing the same issue as our technicians are working on a damaged cable in the area and we aim to get this resolved soon, we would appreciate your patience regarding this

If there is work going on in the area, why don’t you email your customers to tell them?

 We’re sorry that you’re still experiencing intermittent problems with your Broadband in the ZX6 7XZ area. I am sorry my colleague must have missed out that. We expect our engineers to have this repaired as soon as possible. The estimated repair time is 24 NOV 2022 09:00 It s not only yours the Entire area is facing the same problem. We are working as hard as we can to fix this, however due to the complexities of the issue it may take for ever…

I’m not having problems with my internet, how do you think I’m talking to you? And I keep telling you the entire area is NOT facing the same problem! Okay, you are probably thinking why does she keep complaining when there are people in the world with far worse problems, after all I could have been flooded out, my house flattened by bombs or swept away in a larva flow, yes I am very lucky to have a roof over my head…

I have also cleared the upstream and downstream channels to make sure you are on the least congested band but we cannot guarantee a stable connection until the outage is fixed. I have also registered you for compensation for loss of services. Your patience ….

I thought it all worked by magic. I hope you know what you are doing…

So you can see the compensation applied on your account once the outage issue is cleared as this is applied by our backend team. I can understand how difficult it is to manage without internet even I have experienced the same from my service provider as well and know how frustrating it is. But I kindly request you to manage using mobile hotspot until then.

But it’s the TV box not my internet

We take pride to ensure our customer satisfaction unfortunately we have not met your expectations, Upon through review of your conversation we understand that its not what we follow as our values and standards.

I will come back later, I need chocolate.

We are denying to help you, The reason you are facing issues is because of an outage. We are working as hard as we to fix can this, however due to the complexities of the issue its taking us a little longer than normal. Once te outage is completed, service will be resumed and we make sure this is not repeated. Please be rest assured.

A Century of Listening

One hundred years ago today at 6pm, BBC radio officially broadcast for the first time; a news bulletin read twice, the second time slowly in case listeners wished to take notes. The BBC is celebrating its centenary all year and of course including television. But today radio deserves the limelight.

Neither television nor the internet has left radio in the shadows. We got our first television when I was four, so I can safely say only radio has been with me all my life.

‘Lord Reith, first director general of the BBC summarised the BBC’s purpose in three words: inform, educate, entertain; this remains part of the organisation’s mission statement to this day. It has also been adopted by broadcasters throughout the world, notably the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States.’

Whether you turn on the radio for news the moment you return home or don’t even own a radio, BBC radio has almost certainly been part of your life. My son tells me about various interesting podcasts he has listened to, which turn out to be programmes I heard on the radio in the kitchen. My daughter could listen with ear phones on her smart phone to Woman’s Hour in the middle of the night while feeding babies. Surely all of us have been informed, educated or entertained at some time by BBC radio. Even if you have never set foot on these sceptred isles you may have listened all your life to BBC World Service.

It is not an exaggeration to say I probably could not survive without BBC Radio, yes of course we have commercial radio stations and for a while I was a fan of Classic FM, but we were driven apart by advertisements! Radio has been a great companion whilst at home with babies, housework, ironing, cooking, insomnia through to my recent widowhood.

For most of us radio was our first introduction to music, from Faure’s Dolly Suite, signature tune for Listen with Mother to British light music such as Eric Coates’ Sleepy Lagoon, still the signature tune for Desert Island Discs which has been going for one hundred years, or feels like it. It was first broadcast in the 1940’s long before my parents even met, but it was one of the backgrounds to my childhood. If you want something a bit more lively Calling All Workers, also composed by Eric Coates was the signature tune for Workers’ Playtime, broadcast as a morale booster for factory workers in World War 2.  

Now we listen to every kind of music on all the various BBC stations, from your favourite pop song as you drive to work to Radio 3 broadcasting every single concert in the long Proms season.

Radio is above all the spoken word with no need for pictures; our own home theatre, story teller and entertainer. Afternoon plays, half hour comedies and specials such as real time reading all day of the complete Ulysses by James Joyce.

Do you listen to the radio, what music evokes memories? If you do tune in are you listening for news, music, drama or comedy?

Scrabbletide

Do you only use two programmes on your washing machine? Do you ever set the timer on your oven to cook a meal while you are out?

When my oven was new it switched itself off a couple of times when I was in the middle of cooking a roast dinner; I had added an extra ten minutes to cooking time when I put the potatoes in, but instead it thought it had to turn off after ten minutes. I now never dare to touch the timer once it’s set or even better use the clockwork timer inherited from my uncle’s house. Yes I know you can set a timer on your iPhone, but I don’t want to interfere with Wordle or Planet Quiz… The clock on the cooker will be remaining on British Summer Time as I can’t take the risk of the oven not going on because the clock has been interfered with.

I use Word Press in a similar fashion, not daring to explore the other ninety per cent of things it can do for fear of annihilating the few things I can do. My greatest achievement is to post blogs at all; no one I know in ‘real’ life blogs or uses Word Press, so it either happened by magic or I set up my blog all by myself.

I have been trying to straighten up my WP dealings. I did manage to change to a paid plan without the blog disappearing; my simple aims were to get rid of advertisements for ear wax and to be able to store more of my photographs. There may be other benefits, but I have no idea what.

I have learnt many things from other bloggers, usually after already making the mistakes.  Beetleypete says he only follows one hundred bloggers, why didn’t I think of that? I also realised along the way that I could turn off email notifications, though I hesitated as I didn’t want to neglect or miss my favourite bloggers. Early on I had started following a blogger who loved reblogging and I would be inundated with hundreds of emails a day. I hastily unfollowed him.

When Beetleypete mentioned checking his spam folder I didn’t even know I had one. It turned out it was full of my greatest fans?

Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later

Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. 

Amazing how many stumble upon and book mark my blog. As I deleted pages of spam comment I came across one of my regular genuine bloggers, how did she have the misfortune to be mixed with the riff raff?

I have tidied up my list of interesting blogs I follow, but it is sad to remember bloggers you didn’t want to lose. What has happened to Biff Sock Pow! I just had to follow a blog with a name like that and I loved his drawings and funny writing. Kim used to post on Sunday morning three quick questions you had to answer without thinking, that was fun. She had chronic health problems and they sold their house for a simpler life on the road. That was interesting to follow until she decided to stop blogging. I wonder how she is getting on?

How many blogs do you follow? How do you choose who to follow?

Busy Buses

When I was lying on the couch having biopsies taken, the doctor said ‘Do you want to be treated at Bournemouth or Poole hospital?’ My immediate response was Poole, to her surprise. I explained that though I lived in Bournemouth and the hospital is nearer as the crow flies, my local buses both stop right outside Poole hospital, while Bournemouth hospital involves two buses, waiting and stress or perhaps one that only goes once an hour. After this discussion on buses it dawned on me she must have been certain, with all the tests I was having that morning at the Dorset Breast Screening Unit ( at Poole hospital ) , that I did have breast cancer.

I didn’t actually come back on the bus after my operation, but there were numerous routine visits and breast cancer patients are under the hospital for five years, so my decision was wise. Perhaps I should add that this bus journey does take an hour, which would horrify car drivers, but you can relax and catch up with blogs on your phone or people/passenger  watch/eavesdrop. The hospital is also a short walk from the main town with shops? – well modern shopping is for another blog – museum, eateries and Poole Harbour, so if you have only been to the hospital for a quick blood test you can at least make an outing out of it.

I have been using buses since before I was born, everywhere I have lived, except for an Australian country town; so I have earned my bus pass. If you don’t drive, walking, cycling, buses and trains are essential and we non drivers are good for the environment, not that anyone thanks us. But I totally understand that lots of people have no reliable public transport or just think we are insane. The typical new bus passenger gets on board explaining to everyone that he doesn’t normally go on buses, but his car is at the garage getting fixed. He then looks round for an empty seat or the least weird looking person to sit next to. If, when you go on a bus for the first time, you have waited a long time at the bus stop, the driver is rude, there are some very odd people on board plus the local drunk, the bus is packed with noisy school children and you are squashed standing in the aisle I can understand that you would vow never to go on a bus again.

But part of the fun of buses is you can never be sure what will happen! Sometimes something worse happens, such as hearing that your local bus company has suddenly gone into liquidation… That happened to our yellow buses, just as they were celebrating their 120th birthday. Luckily for me we have another bus company, suitably called More Buses, already running my favourite blue bus, M2, going frequently back and forth between Southbourne and Poole bus station with heating, on board Wi Fi, phone chargers and electronic boards and speaker messages telling you which bus stop is coming up. They stepped into the breach within days ( far more efficiently than governments run countries ) offering jobs to yellow bus drivers and bringing in More buses from all over the place. This has made local trips interesting as buses of all colours and ages have turned up, so you have to be very careful to check the numbers. Don’t get on the green bus covered in pictures of trees and ponies and highlighting the delights of the New Forest and expect to go to this fantastic National Park if it says 1a on the front. There have also been drivers who have to ask the passengers which way they are supposed to be going.

Hey Ho, all part of the fun of buses and then there are the passengers, can you even be a writer if you don’t take buses? Hearing people’s life stories, missing your stop because you have got so involved in the phone conversation going on behind you. One early evening I got on the bus at Poole and a chap at the front had a homemade guitar, literally made of bits of wood nailed together and string tied on. It did actually make notes and he was telling everyone about it, in fact he talked non stop till he got off in Bournemouth, at times like these I love buses.

Do you go by bus? If so, have you had any strange trips?

Silly Saturday – Busy Bournemouth

Saturday used to be a busy shopping day in most towns…

…but on line shopping and Covid hastened the decline of our favourite shops.

What can towns do to brighten things up? Rainbow buses or
What can towns do to brighten things up? Rainbow buses or

cheerful toilets or

have an arts festival with sunshine thrown in.

Strange objects waiting for a performance later.

This looked interesting, but I don’t do queues, so I can’t tell you what it was like inside alas.

You will have to read the book instead.

What is it like to be a bee?

Everywhere was busy.

We may keep losing shops, but at least we have a permanent upside down house.

I decided it was time I looked inside and

out of the upside down window.

Find out about upside down houses and the arts festival.

Just Going For A Walk

I had been planning to blog about our earliest form of transport for a while, then walking took on yet another aspect last week with the royal funeral, the various processions leading up to it and of course The Queue. But first back to basics.

Have you heard people comment, or perhaps you have said it yourself…

I don’t do hills. I don’t do walking. I don’t like walking.

I was once watching a comedy in which the teenager daughter greets her mother’s return home. ‘I didn’t know where you were, I thought you’d gone for a walk.‘ Mother replies ‘Walk! I’ve never been for a walk in my life.’

Someone describing how the heat was not a problem in Singapore with the air conditioned malls… I asked ‘What if you want to go for a walk?’ He replied looking puzzled ‘Why would you want to go for a walk?’

Why would you not want to walk, the most natural activity for humans, exercise that costs nothing and a handy way to get where you want to go. During Covid lockdown it was one of the few activities allowed and non dog owners discovered new delights. I love walking, but I have no desire to trek to either pole or up to Everest base camp; solo or with companions, who I would be intensely irritated with by the third day… But ordinary walking, enjoying the fresh air, scenery, perhaps photography and probably ending up at a nice cafe or pub is fun for everyone… What do non walkers do when they go for a day out or on holiday? You may think National Trust Houses have large grounds because the original owners owned all the local land; no, it’s so we can have a nice walk before having lunch in the restaurant and looking round the house. No holiday is complete without a walk along a cliff path or a steep ascent up a hill to enjoy the view.

Modern technology, from super electronic wheelchairs to state of the art artificial limbs allow many who are disabled to get out and about with their friends and family who are fit and able to walk. Walking is freedom and not to be taken for granted; those under repressive regimes or living in dangerous areas cannot just go out for a walk. If you are used to walking everywhere it’s a reminder of the privilege when you ‘do something’ to your back or knee and suddenly can’t walk. The leaflets we were given when having chemotherapy suggest that ‘going for a short walk will help combat fatigue’ – this turned out to be a joke as most of each three week cycle it was a struggle to get to the front gate or up the stairs. It was an insight into the chronic fatigue that people with Long Covid and other debilitating medical conditions have to cope with.

So back to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 11. Whatever your views on royalty or television ( blanket ) coverage of the events, there was a fascination with both the formal traditions and the spontaneous acts of those who came to queue to watch a procession or for The Queen’s lying in. There is something dignified and humbling about the men of the family and others close to the royals walking slowly behind the coffin. Princess Anne joined them, as she did for her father’s funeral, a token man for the day? Presumably it is tradition that only the men walk. If any of the chaps didn’t like walking they were in for a tiring time. I like a brisk walk, walking slowly at a measured pace is much harder, I have tried it round the house. Nor did I go up to London to join The Queue, almost a pilgrimage. They had a long distance to cover at a very slow pace, I wondered if there were escape points for those who changed their minds and just wanted to go home.

There are environmental benefits if everyone walked on short journeys and for writers it is one of the best ways to see real life, but those are topics for another blog.

Are you a walker or non walker? If you enjoy walking what is your favourite sort of walk?