Monday, 28 October 2013

IS THIS WHAT MAKES GREAT BRITIAN?

This is what my favourite cosmologist/scientist and amazingly gorgeous hot tottie Prof Brian Cox  said on TV recently "British science is disproportionally represented amongst the worlds’ best.  With 1% of the worlds’ population and 3% of the worlds’  investment, we produce 15% of the worlds’  most influential scientific papers."   Not to forget that the world wide web was invented (if that is the right term) by Tim Berners Lee - another Brit.  BOOM.

Just as well that we are good at something, because our communication companies are rubbish.  They  seem to be incapable of grasping the simple concept of customer service.  Take Vodafone as a good example.  Now I'm not a great mobile 'phone user but when I do use it I think that a pre-requisite is to have a good signal.  Not rocket science is it? This is where I got myself into some difficulty. 
Long story, they always are with me, but I make no apology.  At 73 I have to start at the beginning and continue on to the end otherwise I lose the thread!  Trust me, it will happen to you too. 
In 2008 we decided to try out a dongle for our sales team. I can't remember why but at that time Vodafone could not understand the need for a business to sign up for a dongle and insisted that someone go to their office in Boston to sign a contract.  I volunteered, signed up, the dongle turned out to be useless, the signal strength was (at best) spasmodic, we threw it in the trash and marked it up to experience!  Unfortunately no-one thought to cancel the contract! Big mistake. 
Move forward to 2011.  I had my 'phone stolen whilst on holiday, contacted my office, asked them to inform my mobile 'phone company and order me another one.  Instead of ringing O2, who I was contracted to and happy with, they 'phoned Vodafone. who I was also contracted to and was not happy with. You can't even begin to imagine the complications this caused.
Every now and then I would grumble, but in the house I usually use my landline - so not too much of a problem.  But things move on and everyone now prefers to call on my mobile and it has, quite frankly, become a pain in the backside.  So I asked my daughter (who is technically savvy) to look into dropping Vodafone and signing me up to O2 again without changing my number. 
Ah! problem.  The Vodafone contract expires next July.  "But she doesn't get a signal, how can she have a contract?" "But she has had the contract since 2008 without complaining".  Try explaining that!
My daughter told the full sorry story to customer service and the technical departments on several continents over two full days.  She said I was now getting older and needed a 'phone that worked.  Their solution was to offer a booster, "but there is no signal in the whole area, plus she have no broadband".  They offered to send a new sim card!  "but, how will this work when your own web site states there is no signal in the area?"
She was pushed around the world from Customer Services to Technical who both said the other would be able to deal with it.  She must have been on the 'phone and "live chat" for hours before we finally caved in.  
I am now signed up to O2 with a new number.  Although,,,,,,the O2 sim card hasn't arrive yet, but the first months invoice has!  Ever think that some days it would be better to have stayed in bed?
 
 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

THIS IS A GREAT COUNTRY

Having visited many of the great capital cities in the world I was recently asked which city I like the most.  I didn't have to think too hard about that.  It's London.  Why?  Well I love the architecture, history, parks, museums, art gallaries, theatres etc. but most of all I love the people. 

There is a myth that Londoners are unfriendly but I have always found this to be totally untrue.  This week on TV they showed a clip of a London Bus Driver which just about summed this up for me.  He had a bushy black beard and my guess is that, culturally, he came from a middle eastern or Indian background.  In a broad cockney accent he said "This geaser got on the bus the other day screaming that we were all going to hell.  I told him "no we ain't going to hell mate, we're going to Illford".  Multi-cultural, integrated, humourous and friendly, this is the great stuff that our capital city is made of.

Talking of London. Didn't we have a great joyful happening yesterday?!  The birth of a new Prince.  Isn't it funny how such an event can lift all our spirits?  After all, the Royal Family isn't my family or your family but like most of the country we all seem to feel "connected".  Why is that I wonder?  Sorry, I get a bit philosophical at times. I guess it's just old age.  And if your spirits weren't lifted, you're an old commudgion! 



Saturday, 13 July 2013

IT SURE FEELS BETTER WHEN THE SUN SHINES

I remember a few years ago there was talk of the Gulf Stream moving. It is, as the name suggests, a stream  of warm water the wends its way North East (is that the right direction?) from the Gulf of Mexico and hits us smack in the side (it's actually a bit more complicated than that, but I'm not a scientist!)  This is why it is so important to our climate in the UK.  If it keeps to the same path or moves North we stay warm but if it moves South it completely misses us and we get cold, wet and very, very miserable. Well, guess what, a few years ago it moved South and we have had the most horrendous summers - until a few weeks ago when it moved North again and, low and behold, we got warm again! 

Hopefully, now it has had a little look around down South it will decide to stay with us because, in my very humble opinion, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth and when the sun shines it's truly magnificent.  

So, having given an excellent natural history lesson, here are a few more things to contemplate on:-

As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world, I realised that at my age I don't really give a rat's ass anymore because:  

.. If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.  

.. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.  

.. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while  
 
 .. A tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it  lives for 150 years.  
 
And you tell me to exercise?? I don't think so. Just grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to remember the ones I do,  And the eyesight to tell the difference because now that I'm older I figure that: 

1.    I started out with nothing, and I still have most of  it.  

2.    My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.   

3.    I  finally got my head together, and now my body is falling apart.   

4.    Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.  

5.    Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.   

6.    If all is not lost, then where the heck is it ?   

7.    It was a whole lot easier to get older, than to get wiser.  

8.    Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant.   

9.    I wish the buck really did stop here, I sure could use a few of them.   

10.  Kids in the back seat cause accidents. 

11.  Accidents in the back seat cause kids. 

12.  It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.   

13.  The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.  

14.  If I were supposed to be able to touch my toes, they’d be on my knees.  

15.  When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.   

16.  It's not hard to meet expenses . . .   They're everywhere. 

17.  The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.  

18.  These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter... I go somewhere to get something, and then wonder what I'm "here after."  

19.  Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.  

20. HAVE I SAID THAT BEFORE? 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

WHAT MAKES 100%?

 



AT LAST, THE ROOF TRUSSES ARE GOING ON TO NEW HOUSE!

What makes 100%? and what about the people who say they are giving more than 100%? How can that be? How, for example, can you achieve 103%?
 
Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:
 
If:                         ABCDEFGH I JKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
 
Is represented as: 1 2 3 4 5  6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.
 
Then         H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K is 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%
And          K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E is 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96
But           A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E is 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%
And          B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T is 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%
Finally      A-S-S  K-I-S-S-I-N-G is 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%
 
So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while hard work and knowledge will get you close, and attitude will get you there its the bullshit and ass kissing that will put you over the top.
 
Now you know why some people are where they are!
 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

WHAT HAPPENED TO JUNE?

Is it really a month since my last post? Amazing?  So much has happened.  After leaving Rome my Aussie friends, Jill & Angelo, came to my home for a while and then we went down to London for a few days.

London behaved beautifully.  It is at it's best in early summer when the parks are so beautiful and we had glorious sunshine every day.  Our hotel, The Thistle by Kingsley, was ideal.  Great price, good location right by the British Museum and within walking distance of the West End Couldn't have planned it better.  Booked, of course, through my company findmeahotelroom.com.
 
My friend Jean spent one day with us and we were then joined by another friend, Sandy, the next day. We kept telling ourselves that we should do this more often.  I must say that I have been to many of the world's great cities and I think that London is the greatest by far.  Maybe I'm biased?! Nah!!

After spending 4 weeks on the ship and then nearly 2 weeks in the UK with my friends Jill & Angelo I was very sorry to see them go.  I think that we rubbed along well together. They have left a big hole in my life
but without time to turn around I said goodbye to them and flew off to France with my granddaughter, her 4 children, my grandsons Ali and Vinnie and Vinnie's girlfriend Hils.  In France we were also joined by another grandson, Frazer and his girlfriend Adeline.    We were all going to the joyous wedding of another grandson Morgan to his beautiful French bride Gwen. 
 
It was the most unusual and memorable wedding that I have ever been to.  The venue was the mysterious underground hall of the Grand Souterrain at Belfort Citedal.  Amazing. 

It was great to see my grandson Vinnie back from Australia again.  I think he and Hils might stay here for a while now, at least I hope so.  Not that we will probably see much of each other, but it's nice to think that they are back in this Country again.  Is that selfish of me?  Yes! 

They are living in London (that's 2 grandsons living in London, can I feel a visit coming on?!).  Vinnie is now working as a chef at The River Cafe , a Michelin starred restaurant famous for training many well know celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver. 

So ... now I am back home, with my feet firmly on very shaky ground again! The last of my visitors have been and gone (John & Julie were here last weekend - I met them on my Christmas cruise) and I don't have another commitment until September when I go to Bournemouth on another Oz Bus Reunion. 

So, as I catch my breath, I leave you with this thought. 

GRANDMOTHERS' ANSWERING MACHINE:
Good morning . . . At present I am not home, but please leave your message after you hear the beep.
beeeeeppp ....

If you are one of my children, grandchildren or greatgrandchildren please select one of the following options:
 
If you need me to stay with the children, press 1

If you want to borrow the car, press 2

If you want me to wash your clothes and do ironing, press 3

If you want the grandchildren/great grandchildren to sleep here tonight, press 4

If you want me to pick up the kids at school, press 5

If you want me to prepare a meal for Sunday or to have it delivered to your home, press 6

If you want to come to eat here, press 7

If you need money, press 8

If you are going to invite me to dinner or take me to the theatre, start talking ..... I'm  listening !!!!!!!!!!!"
 
 
 
 

Monday, 27 May 2013

HOME FROM ROME - YEY!

For those who have followed my recent travelblog charting my trip from Singapore to Rome at http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/retiredandcrazy/3/tpod.html will know that we should have stayed in Italy for 7 days, we left after 2! The reason is simple. My travel companions Jill, Angelo and I didn't like it there.  Why? 

Our opinion of Italians is that they couldn't organise a p***-up in the brewery, they are rude and hostile, even to each other and the trains are a total nightmare.

So, start at the beginning.  We arrived in Rome last Saturday, checked into a nice hotel with "bad attitude" staff and set off on our planned walking tour of the Vatican.  Took the bus to Vatican City, managed, with great difficulty to get directions to our meeting spot, eat lunch and then tried to find out why there were so many ambulances in the vicinity.  No-one claimed to know.

After lunch we set off to walk to our rendevue spot but by this time the crowds had built up.  As we walked the crowds got thicker untill we became hemmed in and could hardly move.  Still no-one seemed to know what was going on!   We tried to press on, but couldn't, tried to go back, but couldn't.  It was very scary because we were being moved into ever thicker crowds.  After we finally moved to clearer ground we found out that Angela Merkel was in audience with the Pope and they were expecting 300,000 people in St John's Square.  Mad.  And no-one knew this was going to happen.  Oh come on!

OK, we were the victim of circumstance.  Next day we set off to ride the hop-on hop-off bus. We were told to stand in line and buy a ticket from the newsagents. BUT the newsagent had run out of tickets and we were then told to stand in line get one on the bus.  This we did, for nearly 40 minutes! When it arrived it was nearly full and fights broke out to get on while three attendents stood by and watched. 

Nearly an hour later we managed to get on the next bus.  Same thing, but being determined we managed get on.  The route had been changed and took us no-where interesting and the commentry didn't match the route.  Finally we decided to give up and went back to the hotel via the railway station so that we could check out the trains to Sorrento the next day.  Have you ever been to an Italian railway station?  My advice, don't!

Again, total chaos reigned and we weren't able to find out anything worthwhile.  I have travelled on Italian trains and know the traumas involved.  Even their own advice is "Note: some of the escalators and elevators are not working so you may need to haul heavy luggage up/down stairs.  Keep an eye on luggage in case they get feet and walk off.  There are also sometimes bad people that have either spit on the seats or have other bodily fluids that don't smell too good on the train floor. You can take the train to Sorrento by checking on the boards.  Attention as they might change platform at the last minute. Inside the train there are, sometime, a few people begging for money.  Do like you never heard them and do not open wallets around."

No shit! Sounds a ball doesn't it?  And then there were the four druggies that were passed out cold on the pavement on the way back to the hotel and the two black guys routing through a suitcase that obviously didn't belong to them. This is not to mention unmentionably dirty toilets, some without doors and a tramp using  the washhand basin to clear his throat and nose in full sight and sound of people buying fancy cakes in the bakery.

When we got back to the hotel we looked at each other and almost in unison said, "shall we go home?" The answer was "yes"!! 

Monday, 6 May 2013

THIS LADY IS FOR TURNING – PYRAMIDS HERE I COME

Regular readers my already know that  I am currently on a cruise from Singapore to Rome.  To read all about it simply click on the map on the side bar.  As a "taster" here is my current post.

I had booked on a tour of the Pyramids, but after receiving a notice warning that because of unrest in Egypt Princess Lines might have to revise their schedule I decided to cancel but was then  encouraged to “go for it girl” by my friend Steve Smith and a fellow passenger said  that if I didn’t go I might regret it afterwards I have decided to go on the trip to Cairo and the Pyramids after all.  Scheduled for  9th May.  So.....  today is Monday, 6th May.  Does that mean we go on Thursday?  Too much heat, food, entertainment and chat has made my pea brain melt. 

The tour is as follows:-

Your thrilling Egyptian adventure begins when you meet your drive and guide at the pier for the scenic drive to Cairo.  Travel through a dramatic landscape of unrelenting sand and scrub, before arriving at Giza, to discover The Great Pyramids.  The largest, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, was built out of 2,300,000 limestone blocks, each weighing and incredible two and a half tons. View the Pyramids of Chephren and Mycerinus, and if time permits, explore their mystical narrow interiors.  Enjoy a stunning photo opportunity at The Sphinx, which bears the body of a reclining lion, and is thought to bear the likeness of the Pharaoh Chephren, before browsing the lively souvenir shops.  Feast on a buffet style lunch at a local hotel before touring the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which houses more than 120,000 objects.  The star attractions are the treasures of King Tutankhamen, and his striking Gold Mask.”

So three more sea days.  At the moment we are in the Red Sea just passing Mecca, Saudi Arabia on our way to the Suez Canal.  Tonight I have an invitation to the Captains cocktail party.  Although I normally avoid “formal” occasions the lure of free booze is very, very tempting. 

After the show tonight we have the rare treat of watching the film Zero Dark Thirty up on deck at 9.30.  It’s a film I missed when it came around so I’m happy to go to that with the promise of free pop corn.   This is a small ship and doesn’t have the big screen on deck, but they have “improvised” (whatever that means!). Fascinating.

After four seas days we seem to have become even sillier.  Jill said that Angelo has a new name for me “Lady GaGa” (don’t ask!) so I said I would call him “Lord GaGa” and announced that we are now officially a couple.  I said “wouldn’t it be funny if I changed my facebook status to “in a relationship with Lord GaGa”.  We were hysterical at the thought of that and only the fear of messing with the minds of friends and family stopped me!

One thing that I am gutted about is that after we left Dubai one of my Oz-Bus friends contacted me to say “are you still in Dubai?  If you are let’s meet up for a few gins”.  I would have soooo loved that Jane.  I didn’t know you were still there otherwise I would certainly have done that.  Much love.  Love to the boys too. I met up with them in Melbourne last year.  You’re a great bunch of people and I think of you often.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

KUALA LUMPUR IS HOT, HOT, HOT

How could you come to somewhere as exotic as Kuala Lampur without visiting the city?  I now know why Noel Coward wrote “mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun”.  With temperatures of 40oC and 90o humidity it is not a good idea to do a “City Tour” but, you know what, that’s exactly what I did yesterday. 

“So, what attracted you to do this City Tour Ann?” “Oh I don’t know, maybe the fact it was a 90 minute couch journey to the city in an air conditioned coach which would give me the opportunity to see some of the countryside along the way”.   The “countryside” was a main highway through vegetation, but the coach was comfortable enough and I even managed a quick snooze along the way. 

Kuala Lampur feels like another “crouching tiger”, ready to spring into action and take over the world.  It has the same air of prosperity that Singapore has due mainly to its strategic position between East and West.  Again, this was recognised by the British who colonised the area and the architecture in some areas of the City is spookily more British than Britian! 

One interesting fact:   Rubber trees have a life span of 30 years.  When the wood is processed it looks exactly like pine and the biggest buyer of this wood it IKEA.  So your IKEA pine wood furniture is probably rubber!

My friends Jill, Angelo and I have recognised many people from our trip last year.   It’s like the people who did the backpacking thing in their youth morphed into respectable even, dare I say it, prosperous citizens and have taken to the high seas instead!  We are thinking of requesting a reunion call being put out over the tanoy!  That would be interesting.

We now have 5 “at sea” days and tonight is one of our four formal dressing nights when everyone (apart from the men of course) put on they pretty dresses.  I’m not a “dress up” person  so I wear just plain evening trousers and a top and feel totally out of place. Horses for courses, as they say

 Today we are sailing up the coast of Samoa and, thankfully, there’s not a pirate in sight.  I was asked before I left what should be done for me if I got abducted.  I told them wait a few days to see if I enjoyed it or not before making any decsions.  Who knows, a handsome pirate might spice up the action.  But they assured me that it wouldn’t be like that.  Drat.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

SINGAPORE SLING

Remind me never to take excursions to these faraway places with strange sounding names that take forever to get to.   First stop Frankfurt where I encountered your atypical, “I have no sense of humour, I work in Border Control and you are an idiot”, German.

My first infringement was to cross over a non-existent line “get back”, “me?” “Yes you, get back over that line”, “what line?”  He looked so angry I decided to keep my mouth shut. 

“Do you have any liquids?” “Only sun block that I bought in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport” says me, trying to look old and frail.  “Show me”.  I dug into my rucksack.  It hid from me, he scowled and I thought “shit, I had better find this quickly otherwise I’m for the high jump”.  Finally, I dragged it out.  “Ah ha! Too big, I have to confiscate”, but I bought it at the airport”, “I don’t care, you are not coming through here with it”. “OK”, I try to smile sweetly, he looks outraged.

The onward plane to Singapore was an A380-800 capable of taking up to 853 passengers.  It’s not natural.  An object that heavy shouldn’t be capable of flight. It’s not natural.   I had an aisle seat next to a charming French couple.  When he realised I was English he was delighted.  “Now I can practice my language skills on you.” Great!   We had such a fun time trying to understand each other. 

As we neared take off time he started looking around for spare seats that he and his wife could move to because, as he said, “I am a big man and need more room”.  I finally twigged that he was actually looking for a seat to move me into and immediately volunteered.  He leapt at my proposal and pointed out that there was a spare seat just across the aisle “that would be good because we could still converse with one another”. 

Feeling very magnanimous I asked the young man across from us if that seat was free. “No, I’m just talking to my friend, but that is my seat”, that meant that he and his friend had an aisle seat each with 2 seats between them.  That didn’t seem fair, but after my experience with the German I wasn’t about to argue.  OK, there was another aisle seat behind him so I asked the family taking up the other 3 seats if they would mind me joining them.  “Why would you want to do that?” Oh hang on, there’s a common thread going on here.  “Because this gentleman is very tall and could spread out if I moved”  “but what about my son, you will then make him uncomfortable” The son was about 6 and skinny, but maybe she was referring to my corpulence and anyway she did have a point.  

When I returned to my seat the first young man asked why I wasn’t moving.  I told him that the family behind didn’t want me.  He replied with a deadpan face “That’s very unfriendly of them isn’t it?”  My NBF then decided to trawl the plane looking for a suitable seat for me and found one. By this time I was beginning to feel as though I was in the middle of a chapter of Alice in Wonderland . 

Finally I arrived at my hotel exhausted and was shown into a room that was so small you couldn’t walk around the bed and had to ask for an upgrade costing another S$40 a night.  Not an auspicious start.  However, after waking at 2.00 am thinking I wouldn’t get back to sleep again, much to my surprise I did and the next thing I knew was that it was 9.00 am and I had had the best sleep for years.

Despite all that palaver my first impressions of Singapore are good. The people at the hotel are delightful, the streets are clean and there us a general air of optimism about the place.  Today I went on the hop-on hop-off bus and get a feel for things.  Tomorrow I might try to get to grips with the underground train service.  Tally Ho!    

Oh! One other thing, I can’t get my pictures to upload properly.  I may have to wait for “an expert” to help me out and that may be on the ship where wi-fi  is exorbitantly expensive.  What I’m saying is I am taking photographs, but whether or not I will be able to post them until I get home is another matter.
Oh and one other thing, I had a Singapore Sling (S$30 outrageous!) in Raffles and threw my peanut shells on the floor.  Another on off the bucket list!

TAX - WORK IT OUT



Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100...
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7..
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

 So, that's what they decided to do..

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20". Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.  So the first four men were unaffected.  They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? The paying customers?  How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.  "I only got a pound out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man.  He pointed to the tenth man "but he got £10!"  "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a pound too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!" 
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"  "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"  The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.
The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.  Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.  In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier

Saturday, 6 April 2013

LOVE: TRUTH, MERCY AND JUSTICE

I believe that this post speaks for itself.

When Nelson Mandela left prison after twenty-seven years and became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, he called upon his old friend, Desmond Tutu, to chair The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission was a series of hearings – some of them public – in which both victims and perpetrators gave testimony about their experiences and actions during apartheid.

At one of the hearings, a policeman, called van de Broek, told of how he and his fellow officers shot an eighteen-year-old youth, then burnt the body. Eight years later they went back, took the father and forced his wife to watch as he was incinerated. She was in court to hear this confession and was asked by the judge what she wanted. She said she wanted van de Broek to go to the place where they had buried her husband’s body and gather up the dust so that she could give him a decent burial. Van de Broek agreed.

She then added a further request. ‘Mr van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so that I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him too. I would like to embrace him so he can know that my forgiveness is real.’

Spontaneously, some in the courtroom began singing ‘Amazing Grace’ as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand. But van de Broek did not hear the hymn, he had fainted, overwhelmed.

This extract comes from my daily reading "Bible In One Year" [bibleinoneyear@htb.org.uk]. htb stands for Holy Trinity, Brompton which is the church from which the Alpha Courses eminate.



Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

TWO TOUGH QUESTIONS

Question 1:

If you knew a woman who was pregnant,

Who had 8 kids already,

Three who were deaf,

Two who were blind,

One mentally retarded,

And she had syphilis,

Would you recommend that she undergoes an abortion?


Read the next question before looking at the response for this one.


Question 2:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts..

Here are the facts about the three candidates:-


Candidate A:

Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists.

He's had two mistresses.

He also chain smokes

And drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B:

He was kicked out of office twice,

Sleeps until noon,

Used opium in college

And drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.


Candidate C:

He is a decorated war hero,

He's a vegetarian,

Doesn't smoke,

Drinks an occasional beer

And never committed adultery.



Which of these candidates would be your choice?



Decide first ... No peeking, and then scroll down for the response.



















Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Candidate B is Winston Churchill.

Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.



And, by the way, on your answer to the abortion question:



If you said YES, you just killed Beethoven.

Pretty interesting isn't it?

Makes a person think before judging someone.


Remember:

Amateurs ... Built the ark.

Professionals .... Built the Titanic





Saturday, 23 March 2013

IT STARTED WITH AN EMAIL! - Boston, United Kingdom Travel Blog

IT STARTED WITH AN EMAIL! - Boston, United Kingdom Travel Blog

RETIREDANDCRAZY DOES 6 CONTINENTS IN 2 YEARS!


Last year I befriended a couple on the high seas between Sydney and San Francisco. Jill and Angelo live in Melbourne and are more than 10 years younger than me, but apart from that we are kindred spirits. Angelo is an independent builder (as was Davy) and Jill hates pretension (as do I).All joking aside, we seemed to "click" and had a great time on the ship.

Last autumn Jill emailled to invite me to their beach house just outside Melbourne for the post-Chrismas period. I was SO tempted, particularly as my grandson lives there too, but I decided to be a responsible grown up and stay put for a while! Why on earth did I think that? Particularly as I then booked myself onto a 12 day Christmas cruise to Madeira!

Jill wrote to me again a few weeks ago and said "Angelo and I are going on a cruise from Singapore to Rome, want to join us?" And, as everyone knows, windows are built for throwing resolves out of!  "Yes please, what date?". And so begins another period of (I hope) riotous fun.

I travel to Singapore exactly 3 weeks tomorrow, stay for three days to explore the city (I love exploring cities on my own. It makes me feel that I'm living on the edge! Why? Because I'm an idiot, that's why) and then meet up with Jill & Angelo before boarding the ship on 18th May.

This morning I'm doing my usual pre-trip thing - panicking. What do I pack? Where are my crop trousers? Should I be taking time away in the middle of building a new house? Can I even AFFORD to do this? Answer? To hell with it. Do it!

I know this is rationalisation, but I figure that at the age of 72 I might as well do these things while I'm able to. Goodness know what's around the corner. So corner, here I come.

Read more: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/retiredandcrazy/3/1364039199/tpod.html#ixzz2OMlzvKun

Friday, 15 March 2013

QUOTES FOR THOUGHT!




These glorious insults are from an era before the English language became boiled down to 4-letter words.

• A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."  "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

• "He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

• "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

• "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." Clarence Darrow

• "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

• "Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

• "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

• "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.." - Oscar Wilde

• "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.  "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

• "I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

• "He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

• "I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

• "He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." - Samuel Johnson

• "He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

• "In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand

• "He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

• "Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

• "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

• "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

• "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

• "He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

• "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SCREAMING IN THE DARK

I heard a brilliant interview on BBC Breakfast a couple of mornings ago. It was about the dangers of experiencing mental deterioration whilst living alone. My ears pricked up! This must apply to me. The interviewees were a psychologist and a delightful young lady who had lived alone for 16 years.

The gist of it was that if you live alone you have no-one to bounce your paranoia off of. Davy used to tell me that I was a mad cow to think the way that I did, so I would quickly adjust my attitude which is good discipline for a crazy like me.

The young lady agreed with the psychologist. She is an author who described herself as being "on the wrong side of bonkers". She also said that her home was both "paradise and a prison". I identified with both of those statements.

So for those of you that get fed up with me "popping into the office to see how things are doing" - get over it. You are, I'm afraid, stuck with me for life. You think I'm mad now, try me if I can't unload my paranoia somewhere. Welcome to my world.

But, to be serious, I'm still obsessing about the NHS. As my dear friend Ladythatlunches revealed there was another man on the same ward. He is in the early stages of Parkinson's and had been in the middle of moving to Lincolnshire when he was admitted to this wretched hospital. The poor man vegetated on the ward for several days, was given the wrong meds and sent home to Edinburgh by taxi where he had to be re-admitted to hospital again. . And he still has to deal with moving from Edinburgh to Lincolnshire. Can you imagine the stress this must be causing him? But do they care? Not a bit of it. Unbelievable!

DogLover suggests going the "complaints procedure" way. I know what would happen. Been there, done that! My husband had bladder cancer. He was a very fastidious man and abhorred the thought of having a stoma bag so he elected to have what they described as "bionic man technology", i.e. he had a bladder constructed in his bowel. We were told that the operation cost over £30,000 and, at that time, there were only 2 to 3 operations carried out every year.

Part of his post-op regime was to learn how to use his newly reconstructed bladder. He was told that a specialist "nurse practitioner" would train him. In the whole month that he recovered in hospital she never came near him once. He stressed out about it because, apparently, it was important that he did special exercises to stretch the new bladder in early post-operative days.

He was frequently told she would be up to see him and would get agitated when she didn’t turn up AGAIN! On the day of his discharge he was told that it was important he didn’t leave without seeing her, she would definitely come up to the ward. After being in hospital for weeks it was a big day for Davy. We had a 70 mile drive but waited for this woman until 6 pm and were finally told she had gone home for the day.

However, she made an outpatient appointment for him the following week and we were told it was imperative that he attend. On the day of the appointment he had dreadful diarrhea. I ‘phoned up the clinic and said he wasn’t able to make the journey and was told they would re-schedule the appointment. They did – for 6 months time! I suspect that this was punishment time for missing an appointment.

I complained about her, again. The result? Davy was transferred to another nurse but by that time it was too late. The new bladder needed to be expanded in the days immediately after the operation. Now it was “set”, had not expanded enough and nothing could be done. £30,000 down the drain and, more importantly, a patient neglected. But it was brushed off by the hospital and our GP. Nobody gave a shit (if you pardon the pun).

Nothing will change until these malcontents can be sacked. Unfortunately, despite the recent scandals of patients dying through lack of care, malnutrition and dehydration they still appear to be “bomb proof”.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

NHS WOES

Despite all the bad publicity the NHS has been getting lately, like wrong diagnosis, patients being neglected, people dying of malnutrition and dehydration in hospitals etc, they are still up to their old tricks. 

An acquaintance of mine was recently taken into hospital.  For months he had been having trouble with his feet and had been attending a daily clinic to have them dressed but they weren't getting any better.  They were painful and bleeding but it was when they changed colour it was decided to take him into hospital.

It was thought to be a circulation problem and he was scheduled to have a procedure to widen the veins in his legs.  So there he sat in hospital for over a week, given so many different tablets that he became groggy waiting for this procedure to take place.  It was finally decided that he should go home and back to daily dressings at the clinic until such time as this procedure could be scheduled.

On the day of his "release" they decided he could be fitted in that day after all.  So there he sat all day long until they finally decided that they actually couldn't fit him in.  Probably because this happened to be a Friday, and,  as we all know, an NHS "weekend" starts Friday lunch time and they don't like working at the weekend!

By this time is was late and he had no way of getting home.  The nurse told him not to worry, they would arrange a car for him.  The "car" turned out to be a Taxi and the 16 mile journey cost the NHS £35. The driver admitted that he was earning a fortune from these hospital runs! Proving, yet again, that the procedures have been put in place by idiots.  Too much money to throw around and not enough humanity to care for the patients.

Back at the clinic they were shocked that he had been in hospital for over a week and nothing had been done. This is typical of the NHS, they are quick to criticise each other, but no-one will actually "blow the whistle".  We all know that this culture of neglect and secrecy has to stop but no-one seems  to be able to do anything about it.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

HOW TO MAKE AN IDIOT OF YOURSELF IN 3 EASY LESSONS

Walking through the office the other day I spotted an office no-no.  One of our bookers had a mobile 'phone on the desk! Quelle horreur!  She was talking to a client so I just tapped the desk on the way by, pointed at the 'phone, did the univeral "call me" sign, wagged a finger and walked out of the office.  A couple of minutes later I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet and someone calling my name

"Ann, Ann did you think that was a mobile 'phone?". 
"Yes I did" I said in my sternest voice.
"Actually it was a calculator, her mobile phone is in her handbag".

Shit!  I had to go back and offer my profuse apologies while the whole office snickered at me. But, hey, we had fun with it!

My second qualification for being the week's biggest idiot was when I went to pay for a kitchen by credit card.  I stood around for a few minutes in an empty shop being ignored.  When I finally gained attention I complained about their crap customer service, ranted on a bit and then my credit card failed!  That completely took the wind out of my sails. 

The month before I had one of the smallest credit card statement I have ever had in my life.  I must have been so excited that I forgot to pay it.  I spotted this oversight when I received this months statement which was, again, very low.  Patting myself on the back for being so frugel I decided to pay the two statements immediately, one late payment offset by one early payment.  Another pat on the back.  So why had the wretched credit card failed?

At home I investigated.  The statement had my on-line bank acknowledgement of payment attached to it. Tick, OK that checks out.  I then go on-line, sure enough there is the payment in the FUTURE REMITTANCES box.  What !  ?

Which leads me up to my third incident of qualifying for the week's biggest idiot award.  Indignantly I phoned the help line, told my story, complained bitterly about being treated this way, pointed to my exemplory record of paying on time, said the banks and credit cards needed to get their acts together and terminated the conversation  by making the statement

" I have the bank receipt in front of me and yet it still sits in my "future remittances".  It says clearly "payment on 28th February - UMMMM - what's the date today?"
With no hint of sarcasm, which must have taken extreme control on this part, he replied "18th February madam"
"Oh, I set the payment up for the wrong date"
"Yes madam"
"I'm so sorry, you must realise that I'm 72 year old and very frail".
"Not at all madam, we all make mistakes.  Is there anything else that I can help you with this morning".
"No thank you, but thank you for being so tolerant of this silly old woman". 
"You are very welcome, have a good day".




Sunday, 24 February 2013

FUNNY STUFF

I occasionally get "funny stuff" from friends (as we all do).  I particularly like these two. 

This first is from my friend Jean:

"Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says "Oh Crap she's up".

And this is from my friend Dave:

Council Job

A guy goes to the Local Council to apply for a job. The interviewer asked him 'Are you allergic to anything?' He answered 'Yes - caffeine'

'Have you ever been in the services?' 'Yes - I was in the army for two years.'

The interviewer said 'Good, that'll get you an extras 5 points toward employment'

He then asked 'Are you disabled in any way?' 'Yes ...a bomb exploded near me and blew my testicles off.'

The interviewer terminates the interview by saying 'O.K. In that case, I can hire you right now. Normal hours are from 8 AM to 2 PM. You can start tomorrow at 10:00 - and plan on starting at 10 AM every day.'

The guy is puzzled and says, 'If the hours are from 8 AM to 2 PM, why don't you want me to be here before 10 AM?' '

'This is a council job,' the interviewer said 'For the first two hours we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our b.....cks, not really any point in you coming in for that.'

BOOM BOOM






Saturday, 23 February 2013

UP AND DOWN AND UP AGAIN

Being in business at this time is very weird.  Everyone we speak to tells us that stategic planning is a pretty useless excercise at the moment.  Nothing is predictable any more.  And when I say "everyone" I mean "everyone" from the local butcher to the main movers and shakers in our industry, which is on-line and account managed travel and leisure.

If our business is a microcosm of what is happening around the world consider this:- 

This week one of the main on-line hotel booking sites flew a representative over to speak to us (UP) and then one of our main clients announced they had been taken over (DOWN).

Then our bank manager tried to pursuade us to take out a loan (which we don't want but I count that as an (UP) because at one time the bank wouldn't lend us money even when we begged!) and then dropped the bombshell that our office building has only been valued at £150,000 by the bank.  They simply punch in the postcode and the low valuation is because we are situated in the country (DOWN).  In fact they and we know that it's true value is nearer £500,000!  Tossers! 

So all in all it was a pretty normal week -from smiles to groans within a few hours!  But when the going gets tough, the tough get going (or so they say).  Time to buckle down AGAIN and plan a new useless stategy AGAIN!

But where are we going? Where is this leading to? Even the government figures are weird. This week alone they announced that employment and government income are both up (UP) and yet the economy is "flat lining", the Bank of England announced another tranche of "quantitative easing" (whatever that means), and we have lost our AAA rating. (DOWN)  What is that all about?


We are not simply bumping along the bottom any more. We are yoyoing from amazing news to abject terror. This week David Cameron was in India to foster closer economic ties. God help us. The Indians are the most bureaucratic nation ever - we trained them well and now we are looking to them for an economic miracle? I think not!

So, I recommend that, as a nation, we get down on our knees and pray to God.  Am I being too negative? Or am I being too positive?  Only God knows!








Saturday, 9 February 2013

ENGLAND - A JOBSWORTHS' PARADISE!

News this week.
  • Banks.  Continuation of the Libor scandal.  Another top banker forced to resign
  • Stafford Hospital enquiry unearths appalling neglect of patients being left for days in their own urine and/or feces, so thirsty that they are forced to drink water from flower vases, being given wrong medication and subjected to verbal abuse by the nurses. One nurse screamed "I hate you" at a patient.  No resignations, no criminal charges!
  • Horse meat in frozen burgers labelled "100% beef" and in frozen "Beef Lasagna" despite this country having the "most stringent and regulated food standards on earth".  No resignations, no criminal charges! 
Excuses:

  • Banks.  We have to be competitive.
  • Hospitals. Government cuts
  • Food Industry. Supermarkets demand cheap products and that is what they are getting.

Real reason:

Jobsworths.  Jobsworths like the tyrant who closed the gate 25 minutes before take off at Luton Airport leaving 20 people stranded.  The fact that these people (including my family) had young children in buggies and had been held up by being moved at the last minute to a "special" lane at customs control, thereby causing further delays, didn't move her.  The fact that we could see the plane being boarded through the window and all the children were crying didn't move her.  She was a jobsworth.  My subsequent written complaints was ceremoniously quashed, resulting in another victory for the self-important twats of this world.

Jobsworths. Like the idiotic Planning Office who decreed that the new house being built should have purpose made, wooden, Georgian windows.  Without going into boring detail he demanded a style of window that has been deemed by experts to be "unfit for purpose".  But, in his wisdom, he chose to ignore this advice. Again, my subsequent written complains were ceremoniously quashed, resulting in another victory for the uneducated, super ignorant maniacs of this world.

I could go on for days, giving examples of hospital cock-ups etc, etc. but I won't.  Suffice to say the Jobsworths are the cause of all our problems and until they are sacked or prosecuted ever the same it will remain.  They are not cuddly, cute little English eccentrics, they are dangerous megalomaniacs.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

SO I GET SIDETRACKED - SO WHAT?

Every time I go to blog I like to reply to comments made on my previous blog.  I then like to read the blogs of the bloggers that commented on my previous blog.  I then like to read the blogs of the bloggers that commented on the blogger that commented on my blog and before you know it I'm late for lunch with no blog written up. 

This is a great pity because I am missing writing about big chunks of my life that I would like to remember and, as my memory too often fads into the dim and distant past, this might be useful at the therapy sessions I will inevitably be compelled to attend at the "memory clinic" any day now!  Only kidding!  Or am I?

This is one of the things, had I been writing, that I would have written about.  It is an email received from my Aussie friends:

"Dear Ann,


I have just arrived home form the beach house to receive and read your email. (no phone or email or internet by choice at beach house). Glad to hear you are rethinking our proposition.

Our home phone number is ******** if you want to call. I don't have your home number. Call now or when you get up it is 6.45 AM YOUR TIME as I write.

Shall I give you more ideas for the trip. We plan to arrive only a day earlier than the set sail date and have booked to stay **** Hotel, Singapore. If timing suits we want to go to night zoo there (one of few in the world nocturnal animals).

We would do the cruise and side trips we fancy. Once are in the port in Italy take the train to Rome 3 days, then off to Milan by fast train for 5 taking in the city , Lake Como and Portofino. My friend Pat her sister lives in Milan and has a great B & B for us to stay in town. Would like to wander the city too.

Fly to Luton from there hire car and head to visit my mum’s oldest (89) and dearest. Return car to Luton train to London where we will stay in Paddington and see plays, visit that restaurant in Soho you recommended but cant remember the name, see museums and take in the ambience of London, before we fly out 6/6/2013."

The "proposition" is to join them on a cruise from Singapore to Rome! Wow!!  and Wow again!!! The stops along the way are Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Cochin (India), Mumbai (India), Muscat (Oman), Dubai (UAE), Suez Canal, Port Said (Egypt) Athens (Greece) Vallettta (Malta) Barcelona (Spain), Cannes (France), Pisa (Italy) and finally Rome.

We had a phone call yesterday and the "Italian Job" has now been revised to 3days in Rome followed by 5 nights in Sorrento.  I am just about to press the "book" button on this one, but have restrained myself not to do so until Wednesday.  Why Wednesday? Well I do everything on impulse and I'm trying to grow up.  Not working!

In the meantime, the new house that I'm having built next door is progressing at last. We had the most awful weather after Christmas and it delayed things, but now we have something to look at each day and it is so exciting. And this is where I get sidetracked again.  I should go out and take a photograph of the build shouldn't I?  But if I do that I may not get to post this blog until after lunch.  Bugger it!  I'm going to take the photograph, sorry for the delay!



I know, not much to see, but it's a record.  On my way to take this photograph I was waylaid again.  I stopped to open the curtains, my hand drifted into the biscuit barrel and popped half a digestive biscuit into my mouth,  I then decided that as I was going out to take these photographs I might as well take the rubbish bins out at the same time, just stopped myself taking a side trip to the supermarket before it got busy, fired up my laptop because I understand how the photo upload works better on that than on my PC, drfited my hand into the biscuit barrel again for the other half of the digestive biscuit, proving to myself that snapping digestives in half before putting them into the biscuit barrel helps me to lose weight, wrestled with the picture upload and voila! 

Now I'm late at the supermarket, all the idiots in the universe will be shoving their shopping carts into my legs, standing in the isles to chat to their boring mates and standing at the checkout with a moronic expression on their faces because they are actually expected to pay!   
 





Thursday, 3 January 2013

BARKING MAD - THAT'S ME!

Conversation between my friend Jean & I.


“The Oz-Bus crew start arriving tonight”. (This is a regular reunion of some the Oz-Bus group who I travelled overland around the world with a couple of years ago)

“Shit, I forgot. Who’s coming?”

“Ben & Ciaran tonight and Caroline & Tim on Friday. Jonny can't make it though because he's not well.  Want to join us for lunch on Saturday”

“Love to. What time are they arriving?”

“Not before midnight and that’s a problem. By 9 pm my legs start to twitch and before my whole body starts twitching I just about manage to make it up the stairs. That wakes me up for a while. I switch on the TV and when I start feeling the twitching come on again I eat my banana and yoghurt, that keeps me going for another half hour because I don’t like going to bed too early.”

“You eat what?”

“Banana & yoghurt”.

“That’s a strange combination.”

“Well there is actually a logic to it. I eat banana because it has an ingredient that’s good for you beginning with “P” and as I don’t eat much dairy product I have a yoghurt because it contains an ingredient that begins with “C”.

“OK, well that makes sense” (Does it? Jean worries me at times!)

“Well actually I absolutely love bananas. I love beetroot too, but it doesn’t seem appropriate to eat beetroot in bed does it?”

“No, I’ll give you that one”

“Actually, I am so well known for loving bananas and beetroot that Vinnie (my grandson) brings me a huge bunch of bananas and jars of beetroot every time he comes to visit. Come to think about it, that’s kind of weird isn’t it?”

“I’ll give you that one too. But, let me get this straight, are you saying that he is weird, or you are weird?”

“Well I suppose it has to be me doesn’t it?”.

“Yes duckie, I would say so. You should write a blog about it. See you Saturday”.

By this time we are both howling with laughter, gasping for breath, with tears streaming down our faces! So there you have it. Officially weird.

Happy New Year.