Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Some of life's little puzzles

Walking back from buying the newspaper on Sunday, it struck me as odd that, in general, newsagents seem to be grumpy, but milkmen are usually cheerful, though both have their alarm clocks set for roughly the same time. Is it to do with their products – the newsagent has a breakfast of gloomy news and the milkman a mood boosting drink? Then I started thinking about some of life’s other little puzzles.

Why for instance, can they put a man on the moon but they can’t make a broom with a handle that doesn’t need a piece of rag wedged in to keep it in place.

Why do women give fear of loneliness as the reason they can't leave their unloved and unloving husbands, yet continue to lie next to him as emotionally isolated as any desert island castaway.

Why, when you suggest to your children that they might like to take their junk from your loft or garage to their own family home, do they look so surprised and hurt that not only are you expecting them to use their own valuable storage space, but have reneged on the unwritten agreement that the space was on permanent loan.

Why is it so much easier to manage other people’s money than our own.

Why did I buy a dictionary that's so large it breaks my wrist to lift it, so have to resort to the silly little one rejected in its favour in the first place.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


A blue note on the red hearts

The annual Valentine’s Day rip-off is here again and I’m feeling nostalgic for the time when it was just a bit of fun, a mystery to be solved, a chance to indulge in a little fantasy of lust or love about someone you fancied. It was simple: you sent a card, leaving as few clues as possible to your identity and the object of your affection enjoyed guessing who the person with such impeccable taste was. Now it’s serious business. No time for fun or mystery. No point doing good by stealth. Your partner needs proof of your love. Time to take up Tesco’s offer of a free half bottle of champagne with every two dozen red roses. But if marketing doesn’t hook you, guilt will. My hairdresser told me she’d made it clear that she'd be very disappointed not only if she didn’t receive an impressive display of red roses, but if they weren’t delivered to her salon, where her colleagues and clients could see what a romantic husband she had.

But whilst I can’t join in that sort of daylight robbery, I would be up for re-enacting the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, with me playing Jack McGurn and Mr Tesco as Bugs Moran. The seven gangsters to be bumped off could be chosen from an all star line-up of high street marketeers, who would then be lured to a garage, with an irresistible offer, not of cheap Canadian whiskey, but a lorry-load of hearts, chocolates, flowers, teddies and bottles of champagne. Me and my five cohorts would then turn up in our stolen police van (ok we might have to compromise on that), order all the gear to be lined up on the wall, and with a pyrotechnic display of automatic paintball machine guns we’d splatter the lot until not one green bottle was left hanging on the wall.

I think I’m married to a fantastic man, but I won’t be expecting a Valentine’s Day gift from him. But I don’t mind because I much prefer the totally unexpected, no special occasion gift he gave me recently–a little book by one of my favourite authors, left on the bedside table. Now that’s romantic.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


...to see ourselves as others see us

It’s funny when you’re having a conversation and the other person starts to criticise someone else, and in listing all their character defects, manages to pretty much describe themselves.

At a family gathering recently, a woman, who can in the course of recounting the minutiae of hers, her family’s and acquaintance’s lives, make you lose the will to live, told me about a former long time friend of hers, who had mysteriously stopped talking to her. When I asked if she missed this friendship, she told me she didn’t really because she was very snobbish, talked only about her own family and constantly bragged about their achievements.

Oh for the cool headed, quick thinking talent of Jane Austin to deliver the deliciously ironic ripostes that Elizabeth Bennett uses on the insufferable rector Mr Collins in Pride & Prejudice. Sadly, all my killer blows were struck much later in the comfort of my sitting room.

But the next time I’m tempted to criticise someone, I must remember that I too could simply be transferring my own unattractive characteristics on to my target.

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