Archive | August, 2018

A Trip to Tesco…

31 Aug

It was a toss-up between Waitrose and Tesco. We have both in my little Kentish village…darling. Did I want to be ‘seen’ (Waitrose) or ripped off a little less (Tesco). Quantity (Tesco) won over quality (Waitrose) – with the added bonus that I didn’t feel the need to either shave or change out of my flip-flops.

Aisle 5 is booze. I am strolling along wishing that I had more general shopping to pack out my trolley so that my substantial alcohol purchases won’t dominate at the checkout. The prospect of the box of Bud and six assorted whites and reds dwarfing a bag of carrots, a pint of milk, houmous and breadsticks was worrying me. Suddenly a crash and ‘Oh fuck me!’ A woman with a small child and those silly rips in her jeans had dropped a bottle of Chardonnay. My immediate thought was: not much to lament there. Then, ‘That’s all your fault, you just won’t shuttup, will ya?’ she squealed at the bemused child who was minding her own business perched uncomfortably in the trolley-seat.

As I chivalrously stooped to help pick up the shards now littering the aisle, the wee-like Chardonnay was oozing its way along the thoroughfare. Before you could say health and safety a Tesco functionary hove into view. And before he opened his mouth the dummy-mummy went on the attack. ‘That bloody bottle was put right on the edge of the shelf. And the bottle was wet. Not my fault, at all.’ Her face had reddened and she gave me a look which silently warned me to keep my trap shut. Tesco man smiled and said, calmly¬† ‘Are you and the child OK?’

Now I don’t know if you have a voice in mind for my dummy-mummy? Well if I say plummy-dummy-mummy, that might surprise? We’re talking Joanna Lumley.

Confronted with this piece of kind-heated commonsense, dummy-mummy’s brain was scrambled. In her confusion she continued her half-hearted offensive..’No thanks to you, you ought to stack bottles properly.’ Tesco man, who was fast becoming my man of the week, told the imbecile that, of course, there would be no need to pay for the wine and that he had called for another functionary to bring mop and bucket. He finished by saying that, for health and safety reasons, they would check the CCTV to see if they could learn lessons from the incident, dummy-mummy pushed off rather sharpish, still grumbling. I caught Tesco man’s eye. We exchanged broad smiles.

As if this wasn’t enough excitement for one trip to Tesco, no sooner had I left the shop than an open-topped Mercedes hotrod roared into the car park. Of course it was driven by what looked like an octogenarian. Are the grey wrinklies the only people who drive these phallic, babe-magnets these days? In addition, what little hair the fossilized Lewis Hamilton had was stuck up in a question-mark of gel. Like ripped jeans, so very silly.

As I leafed through the paper I despaired of what made the headlines. Mother Theresa Thunderbird dancing her way across Africa as she searches, fruitlessly for trading partners to fill the EU void. As she scrabbled for friends in Nairobi and Capetown, I reflected on how much closer we are to Paris and Berlin.

Indeed the French fishermen, acting like my dummy-mummy, going on the attack when they had no grounds to assail our boys who were working legally off the French coast. The cry of ‘sustainability’ in their defence rings hollowly. Rules that suit. The French fishermen – and others – will happily ignore EU rules when it serves their interests best to do so. Just an observation.

I notice that the new head of Ofsted has criticized the culture of league tables and teaching to the exam. Well knock me down with a f….ing feather. A revolution has occurred in GCSEs. Grades are now numbered 1 to 9. Well knock me down with a f…ing feather. When I took my O Levels they were numbered 9 to 1. So much better now. I was also delighted to read that schools should provide sports, music and drama and other activities to enrich the education of young people. I never knew that. Again, you could knock me down with a f…ing feather. And, while you’re doing that work out how much f…ing damage and billions of pounds have been spent f…ing up the system in the first place. Back to square one. Collateral damage – enormous.

Jezza Corbyn can’t shake the anti-Semitism thing can he? Nigel Farage for the next Mayor of London? Alex Salmond crowdfunding to pay for his legal fees in the sexual harassment case?

I mused on all these things as I sat on the bench outside Tesco. Then I saw my calm Tesco man leaving at the end of his shift. We exchanged smiles again. My hero.

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Summer’s lease…

27 Aug

We know that summer is nearly done because the pouting, morose Mourinho drags himself into press conferences to bemoan his lot and BT Sport drool over his every utterance. We seem addicted to the pessimist, the downbeat, the prophet of doom. The smiling mouthful of teeth that is Jurgen Klopp gets far less attention than the sulking Jose.

A man called Bobby Duffy has written a book called ‘The Perils of Perception’. He points out that we crave bad news, and journalists love the maxim ‘If it bleeds, it leads!’ We have come to distrust politicians and the media and rely on our everyday experience from which to draw more general truths.

This doesn’t stop the Daily Mail hijacking our sense of insecurity and taking us up the garden path of misinformation. The Mail asserts: ‘Immigrants commit a quarter of all crime in London’. Given that 40% of the capital’s population is immigrant, it looks like they are remarkably law-abiding. Duffy goes on to cover a large range of misperceptions. Brits apparently think that 15% of the population is Muslim. Actually it’s 4.8%. We overestimate wildy, almost always to feed some idea of threat or gloom or prejudice. We are led in this by our leaders in Parliament and the media.

The truth is that life is miles better now that it was when I were a lad. By nearly all credible assessments poverty is decreasingly, crime is falling, terrorism is in decline and longevity is on the rise. There are still plenty of problems for us to sort out but we should resist what he calls ‘rational ignorance’ where we confirm our bias in the face of statistical and other truths.

‘Rational ignorance’ might explain the media’s devotion to the glum dirge of Mourinho. He’s having a laugh at our expense. Now bored with the Premiership he will seek a multi-million payout so that he can ply his gloomy trade in warmer climes. Perhaps he has twigged that the adventure and sparkle of Guardiola, Klopp and Pochettino are things that he cannot match. He has lost his mojo. He’s rationally ignorant.

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