I’m not the only one (although I have to mention that other hot beverages are available).
Of course, no-one in their right mind takes their tea black.
As such we have a fridge at work, in which to keep the milk.
Well, as personal recompense for doing this, first of all, I visit the in-store café, where I will spend 20 minutes relaxing with a cup of tea and a toasted teacake.
I know: very civilised.
It prepares me for facing the hoards of dozy, inconsiderate shoppers, as they slowly drag themselves round, getting in my way and leaving their trolley wherever it will cause me the most grief.
But, there is something that really annoys me about Sainsbury’s Café and their delicious toasted teacake.
It’s the butter.
Nothing wrong with. It’s a good quality butter.
But, when they give it to you, it has come straight from the fridge.
It’s very, very cold.
As such, it won’t spread on the teacake, without ripping it to shreds. I have to put ‘chunks’ of butter on and then wait for it to melt, by which time my toasted teacake isn’t so toasty.
It’s a terrible, terrible thing.
Who’d want to live my life, eh?
Generally, to while away the time, I listen to podcasts.
But, a few weeks ago, I fitted a VHF/UHF radio transmitter in the car (that’s it in the picture above). This allows me to converse with other like-minded idiots as I travel.
And it’s amazing how much quicker the time flies when in conversation with someone.
I wish I’d done it years ago.
You’re not allowed to get thirsty anymore, apparently, so now everyone carries little bottles of water around with them.
At work, whenever we go into meetings, half the desk space is taken up by bottles of water because, it seems, no-one can go for an hour without needing to have a drink.
You could say I’m being hypocritical here as, whenever I go into a meeting, I’ll always take a cup of tea in with me. But I do that, not because I might get thirsty, but because it’s tea. And of course, one should always take tea into meetings. It’s social etiquette.
And besides, someone might bring biscuits.
In the Gents toilet at work (I daresay it’s similar in the Ladies) we have a poster as shown, at reading height above each urinal.
I sometimes get strange looks as I stand there having a pee and say rather too loudly (and on purpose, of course), “Oh yes! Pale straw! Result!”
“Learn anything good at school today?” is a question I ask the kids almost every night when I get home from work.
Most of the time, they can’t remember what they learnt and reply just with a surly grunt.
“Learn anything good at school today?” I asked thirteen year-old Harry, when I got in, this evening. “Yep”, he replied promptly. “I learnt how to put a condom on”.
Well, that stopped me in my tracks, I can tell you.
“That’s, er, good” I said, trying to look unfazed and be cool about it. “I take it you didn’t actually put one on, but used a banana or cucumber?”
“Oh no”, he replied, “we used a dildo” Again, that stopped me in my tracks and I decided to leave it there. The current Mrs Masher, however, was keen to hear more and pushed for more details.
“Well, we also learnt about various sexual diseases, like…” and he rattled off the names of several STDs.
“Anything else?”, Mrs M asked.
He thought for a moment. “Oh yeah, they showed us a femidom and showed us how that should be used and also, they showed us a plastic sheet that you put over your bum if you want to have anal sex.”
I got up out of the chair and went to make a cup of tea, leaving Mrs M to continue the interrogation.
I can remember the sex education that we got at school, back in nineteen filthy-lie.
We were made to watch a video (a short film on a projector, as it was back then) in a darkened school hall, where we all giggled as naked pictures of men and women were shown to us, each with arrows pointing out their respective sexy bits.
Then, back in the classroom, we were all allowed to ask just one related question – anonymously, to save any embarrassment – by writing it on a piece of paper for the teacher to read out. I can’t remember exactly what my question was… something to do with breasts.
But I do remember the teacher reading it out and then looking straight at me as he answered it!
And I remember going bright red with embarrassment.
I think I would have just curled up and died, if I’d been told to put a condom on a dildo!
The first was yesterday morning, when I was filling the car up with diesel. The chap at the pump in front of me was filling his white BMW X5. At the same time, he was talking on his mobile phone.
There are signs all over the forecourt saying that mobile phones should not be used. And he knew this. This wasn’t ignorance in his part, because he was doing it surreptitiously. With his back toward the attendant at the till, he was filling his car up with one hand, whilst the other held his phone hidden under his open jacket as he talked into it.
I finished what I was doing and drove off. As I passed slowly by him, I gave him a withering look. He looked up at me. “Really?” I said, shaking my head. He did nothing and just went back to his conversation.
Now, I know that operating a mobile phone in a petrol station, is unlikely to cause an explosion. In fact, I believe the main reason that phones should not be operated in that environment, is in case it is dropped and the battery becomes dislodged as it hits the ground, possibly causing a small spark. Again, it’s unlikely that anything would happen if that did occur. Unless there happened to be some spilled petrol on the floor, maybe. So, the odds are low, but, should the right circumstances come together, the results could be quite catastrophic. Hence why you should NOT use your phone in a petrol station forecourt.
Even if you do own a BMW.
The second instance where I didn’t expect to see a mobile phone being used, was last night, when Mrs Masher and I went to the cinema in Hemel. A homeless man was laid out in his tatty sleeping bag on the floor outside. Bits of detritus surrounded him: pizza boxes; paper coffee cups and an upturned flat-cap with some loose change in it, all donated by kindly passers-by.
But, from the angle that Mrs M and I approached him, I could see that he was surreptitiously (again) holding a mobile phone inside his sleeping bag and was was busy texting someone.
I read somewhere that you shouldn’t give money to people sleeping rough, as they are most likely just going to just spend it all on drugs. I don’t know whether that’s true, but I didn’t give him any money as I didn’t want to contribute to his data plan.
And I doubly hate litterers.
Last night, when I took the dog for
her our evening walk, there were a couple of young lads sitting on the low metal fence that surrounds the green. They were talking loudly and stuffing biscuits and what-have-you down their gullets.
This morning, when I took the dog out for
her our morning walk, I passed by the same area. Biscuit wrappers and empty crisp packets littered the ground, where they had just dropped them and then wandered off. Pure laziness and a complete disregard for the area.
Annoyed at this, I stopped, picked it all up and put it in the bin… which was quite easy to do, as it was less than three metres away!
Something that annoys me just as much – or even more – is fly-tipping.
We have some beautiful country lanes around here and it really gets my blood pressure up when I’m driving/riding along one of them, and I see an old washing machine sitting by the side of the road – dumped there under the cover of darkness and left for the taxpayer to foot the bill for clearing it up and disposing of it properly.
At work, there is an alleyway that runs parallel with the train line at the back of our car park. The alleyway has high fencing on either side of it.
And yet, someone has gone to a lot of effort to carry an old sofa down this alleyway – can’t have been easy, as it’s quite narrow – and then bodily lift it over a seven-foot high fence, in order to dump it on the grass verge next to the train tracks. Again, all done in the middle of the night, probably.
It would have likely been easier to take it to the local Tidy Tip, which is about half a mile away.
I know there are fines for littering and also for fly-tipping, but it doesn’t seem to deter anyone as the chances of being caught are negligible.
A stronger penalty is needed, in order to make these people think again about what it is they are doing.
It had just got dark. In fact, with no cloud cover and a half-moon, it was very dark indeed.
And bloody cold.
We took a common walk through the park and alongside the woods.
I carry a small laser pen with me when I walk Saber at night, as she likes to chase the bright red dot up and down the path. Easy exercising for me!
As we walked along the unlit path, heading toward the woods, I noticed three others walking along another path, that intersected with ours. They were easy to spot, as they each carried a torch and were talking loudly and excitedly.
I quickly realised that we were on a collision course and would meet at the intersection at the same time… which I didn’t want, as I’d have to put the dog back on her leash.
I could walk a bit quicker and get in front of them… but then they would be close behind us. Again, I didn’t want that as they would be a distraction and Saber and I like to walk along in peace and quiet.
And so, I decided to let them get in front so that we drop back a reasonable distance.
Saber and I came off the path and walked up to the treeline of the woods, where I stopped and waited for them to pass by. As I said, it was very dark and I was wearing dark clothing, so they wouldn’t even know I was there.
I stood and waited as they made their way up the path, swinging their torches as they went. Two small beams lower down and a very bright one higher up, had me guessing that it was an adult with two children, It wasn’t long before they were in earshot and I was proved right: a mother and her two kids, all out playing with their shiny new torches.
I stood stock-still in the shadows; my hands pulled up into my coat sleeves and my shoulders hunched against the cold. “Just bloody hurry up, willya”, I muttered.
They stopped and started swinging their torches again. The very bright one, from the adult, made its way along the treeline and dazzled me slightly as it passed. And then it swung back and centred on me. I’d been spotted.
I stood there motionless, muttering quietly under my breath: “Oh, just fuck off will you. Go away”. The light stayed on me for about thirty seconds, but I couldn’t quite hear what was being said as they had lowered their voices. I doubted they could see the dog, as she was a few feet behind me, sniffing in the bushes.
Eventually the light swung away and they moved on. I waited a minute before following, but when I got back on the path, there was no sign of them.
Saber and I continued our walk along the path and when we reached the end, where it joined the road, I put her back on the leash.
We turned left and walked along the pavement. A police car rounded the corner at speed and headed toward me. He slowed right down and looked at me intensely. I looked straight back at him and smiled. He sped up again and continued down the road.
Hold on! Had I just been reported to the police?
Had Bright-torch phoned them and reported a dark-clad and ominous looking figure lurking in the trees?
I realised that to them, I probably looked a bit menacing, just standing there… rather like Gort from the film The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Maybe I should have got my laser pen out and really acted the part.
Mrs M has been subjected to these recently and has been treating them with the disdain that we all do.
Except, it turns out that these have all been coming from one company. A firm of debt collectors, who yesterday, finally managed to get hold of her.
Why should this be?
Well, 14 months ago, she bought something online – can’t remember what, or from where.
As a thank-you for buying from them, this company offered Mrs M a free pot of face cream… all she had to pay for was the P&P – £3.99, so she accepted and sent off her money, via credit card.
A short while later she received the face cream. It was from a company called RegenesLift.
It was alright; nothing special, but fine for 4 four quid.
Mrs M put it in a drawer and forgot about it.
And then she changed banks.
It was shortly after this that she started getting the calls and mails, but she didn’t connect them with anything, so she just ignored them.
The calls, she ignored: not recognising the number and assuming them to be PPI or some rubbish like that.
The mails and texts mentioned that she should contact them at her soonest as her “account was overdue”.
Very spam-like, so she ignored those too.
But – to cut a long story short – it turns out that the face cream offer had some small-print attached in the Terms & Conditions at the bottom of the website, that stated that by accepting the free offer, she was agreeing to having money debited from her account each month for further supplies of face cream. I hasten to add that no extra pots of face cream were ever received. If they had, we might have been alerted to what was going on.
Fortunately, she had changed her a bank account straight after, so the company (American, btw), had failed to debit her further.
But what they did do, was hand it over to a debt collector to sort out. The debt collector told Mrs M that she now owed £390.00.
Three hundred and ninety quid!
For face cream that she never received and never asked for.
Mrs M spoke to various people, including the Financial Ombudsman, who was incredibly helpful, as he was already aware of this particular rip-off as many others had similarly complained.
A quick web-search has thrown up several sites exposing this as a scam, such as this one.
Anyway, after some hasty email exchanges between all parties, Mrs M has had her “account” closed with the American company and the debt collector (whose website mysteriously disappeared a few hours later) agreed to stop chasing her for money.
A result in the end for Mrs M, but I wonder how many others didn’t fair so well.
Nobody reads the small-print, do they?
Maybe we need to start giving it at least a cursory glance.
“I can never get the hang of Thursdays”, said Arthur Dent. Well, I can sympathise with him on that.
It’s not that I don’t like them. In fact, I rather do.
Thursdays at work, always tend to be a bit manic. For some reason Thursdays seem to have become Meetings Day. We tend to have a lot of meetings throughout the week, but on a Thursday, I can often be in back-to-back meetings for much of the day.
In one respect, I quite enjoy it – it’s good to be busy and it stops me spending money on ebay, buying stuff I don’t really need.
But, whilst you are in a meeting, you are not getting on with other stuff and, consequently, I find myself falling behind and then having to play catch-up on the Friday.
And no-one wants to be doubling their workload on a Friday, do they?
POETS day, we used to call Fridays: Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday.
I remember when I worked at BT, we had a contractor, Norman, working with us for a while. A very mild mannered gentleman. Very well spoken. Very genteel. And despite the foul language that often rent the air, we never heard even the slightest of cuss words leave his lips. Even when we tried to make him swear… which we often did.
And then, one Friday lunchtime, he packed his toolbox and said, “Right, I’m off… it’s POETS day.”
“POETS day?”, said Jim, feigning ignorance, “What’s POETS day?” and we all leaned in, waiting to hear Norm utter a rude word for the very first time.
“Have you not heard that one before?” asked Norman, slightly amazed.
“No, tell us”, we all cried.
“Pop Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday”