Manny recently told me that he particularly likes the opening lines of my weekly posts as they tend to be funny. No money has changed hands, believe me; rather, he just understands/ appreciates my humour – something for which we should, both, be grateful. On the subject of humour, however, his was sorely tested yesterday; a sorry tale once more reflecting a world devoid of both manners and standards.
For many years, I was the proud owner of an old Golf GTI – 16V, I might add, which helped as I was usually late! Anyway, how I loved that car despite the fact that it stubbornly refused to co-operate on cold, wintery mornings and, latterly, it embarrassed me at every opportunity. Ever had one’s exhaust fall off on Queensferry Road or the clutch give out mid-roundabout? Suffice to say, the deterioration was such that I used to have to stop and open the bonnet, repeatedly, to re-hook something to something in order that I might change gear! Yep, time to throw in the towel. Enter Manny’s old Golf GTI, bright red in colour and equally as difficult as mine – but how we love driving it! That is until yesterday when smoke started to pour out from under the bonnet in Kensington. Nice area, at least, he managed to make it to a Sainsbury’s car park and phone the AA. I repeat, the AA!
The Automobile Association, founded in 1905 apparently, and a market leader in breakdown cover for no small fee. A member for years, I wouldn’t go anywhere without such cover and, to date, have had no grounds for complaint. However … back to Manny in the car park at Sainsburys yesterday. It was 8.55am when he called for assistance. The AA vehicle arrived at his car at 3.45pm!! I can hardly bear to write/type that as it makes me so angry. How dare anybody be left for almost seven hours? More to the point, how can anybody be expected to pay to be left for almost seven hours?! Manny, repeatedly, phoned them to check the ETA only to be, repeatedly, told that the guy was half an hour away, then 1.5 miles away and so on. Furious – cold and hungry – as the hours wore on, he informed them that he would move his car onto the road in order to warrant attention and asked to speak to someone in a position of authority. The AA, for whose service one pays handsomely, paid no heed. To add insult to injury, however, it was suggested that he buy himself some lunch in said supermarket and the Automobile Association, would graciously re-imburse him. Wonderful! Seven hours in a car park, freezing, all worth it. When one of the mechanics eventually turned up, there was no explanation, no apology. Not his fault just another example of utter incompetence which we, as sheep, are supposed to take lying down. Sad thing is, most people do accept it because it is more trouble to do anything about it – and thus standards continue to sink. The record has stuck; the needle engulfed in dust and dirt reliant on someone with initiative to clean it thus enabling new life. I smile as I think of Pop and what he would have done … ‘burst into print’, of course! I learned from the master.
Rewind to the days when one lived in a community; when one would have known the owner of the local garage, personally, needing only to give him a call, confident of his help. Days long gone. Now everyone is a number deserving of no individual attention, expecting none. I, for one, refuse to acquiesce. Take heed from this tale when renewing your breakdown cover.
The days are dark, dank and gloomy seemingly devoid of sun. The electrician appeared at 11, this morning, to fix the outside lights affording some form of illumination to the outer contours should one be forced to venture forth! A pause to my day, then, which extended to more than two hours as he lost the keys to his van, later discovering that he had dropped them into his toolbox. Why is nothing ever simple? A rhetorical question in my case.
Anyone stoic enough to cope with more doom and gloom? Let me bring to one’s attention a certain practice at a certain boarding school which enrages me on so many levels … Said school has lessons on a Saturday morning. Said school, then, devotes a Saturday afternoon to sport when matches are played against other schools both at home and away. So far so good. Now sport, one must concur, is the domain of the PE department involving the coaching of the teams and the subsequent attendance at matches on a Saturday? Well, in an ideal world. Here, it is, apparently, the practice that certain academic staff are expected to take games during the week and attend matches on a Saturday. The argument offered is that said school is a traditional boarding school and, as such, staff are expected to immerse themselves in school life and all that that entails. Rewind – forty years, admittedly – and I was a pupil at a traditional girls’ boarding school … for the life of me, I cannot remember our French teacher, let alone our Geography or English teachers, taking us for hockey or lacrosse of an afternoon or refereeing any of our matches! Moreover, I have no recollection of any of our games staff taking us for Latin! Well, doesn’t one scenario immediately demand the other? Is that not fair? Of course not, it is equally ridiculous!
Suffice to say, at this school – from time-to-time – there are matches on a Saturday morning due to the fact that the opposition is not of the boarding variety. What follows is justification for raised blood pressure in beings of a delicate nature: that is, possessing of an intellect! Certain academic teachers are told that they must accompany certain teams – whether at home or away – said duty taking precedence over the teaching of their normal classes for which they must find suitable cover. I know, it beggars belief! So, for the sake of argument, an English teacher who has several classes on this particular Saturday morning must find someone who is free to cover whilst he/she masquerades as a member of the PE department instead? No! Shouldn’t the member of staff who is free – translated as without class commitments – be accompanying the hockey team? What’s more, should a member of the PE staff then be expected to teach English at some given time? Apparently the PE staff do not teach on a Saturday morning – well, there’s a surprise! Instead the academic staff are expected to do two jobs for no extra remuneration. Failing a lobotomy, that makes absolutely no sense to me. In addition, it is totally unfair. Moreover, as a parent paying considerable fees for my child’s education – and, for argument’s sake again, my child has learning difficulties – I know how I would react should I learn that my son/daughter’s teacher had been seconded by the PE department of a Saturday morning! There is no justification for organization of such ineptitude.
Once again, should these little green men have escaped from Tiger Lily despairing in their quest for intelligent life, spare a thought for them …
Let me end on the commercial gluttony otherwise known as Christmas. Still eight days from December, one could be forgiven for thinking it is nigh! Panic has been in the air – and in the shops – since before Halloween and the importance of the Christmas advert has been given further credence. That of John Lewis is a reflective few minutes manipulated to the accompaniment of Elton John’s Your Song. Of course, the song is all important and this year’s choice embodies the perfect sentiment for Christmas. Tick. Now, Elton John … how about a synopsis of his life in nostalgic footage culminating in the moment little Reg Dwight received his first piano for Christmas? Did he? No matter. Back to Elton in reflective mood, remembering … I quite like it but, if the song is all important, equally so is the ‘slogan’ at the end. ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift.’ I can’t believe it’s not better! Whoever came up with that – no doubt requiring of a collaboration – will have been paid a small fortune. Marketing at its best executed by those skilled in their craft – or not! Personally, I think John Lewis should have handed the whole thing over: story and music courtesy of Elton John; words (all of them!) courtesy of Bernie Taupin. In the event that he was unavailable, I would willingly have accepted the enormous ‘challenge’ – for a small fee! Remember, Christmas is a time for giving …
‘The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.’
This is Trish, signing off.
By the way, Noel Edmunds – television gold tonight. Intelligent life, if not a little eccentric? Wait until Mr Blobby appears … search over for those little green men!