Seriously?!

This page is a gift to me. I just hope it is expandable in the true sense of the word. Writing once a week is not enough to incorporate the grievances I accumulate daily: whether it be regarding an item of news, apropos a programme on television, something I have heard on the radio or – more than likely – a result of merely venturing beyond the front door! I was tempted to call it ‘Rant Of The Day’ but that would create a whole new image and, contrary to belief, I really don’t look for things to complain about. No need; they’re everywhere! In a world now seemingly devoid of morals, manners and basic standards, I am more than happy to be a voice …

4th July, 2020

Margaret Thatcher Street.  Ban All Zoos Terrace.  No IndyRef2 Crescent.

New Street names.  Just because …

Sorry?  You don’t like them?  You don’t agree with them?  You don’t want them?

Irrelevant.  I do!

What authority do you have to add a new name to a street?

None?  Oh, of course, you did it in the dead of night, anonymously!

Why was that?  You knew it was illegal to do so?

Is that not cowardly?  Why not have the strength of one’s convictions?

Rhetorical question.

Expecting any legal comeback?

Doubt it.  You see, that is the Tyranny of Tolerance.

Nobody has the right to put up a new street sign at a whim.

Black Lives Matter, though, and to wave the strong arm of the law would be racist!

The thing is, nobody is denying that Black Lives Matter; however, that umbrella does not provide legal immunity.

Oh, it does? 

Then this is a free-for-all.

Good Luck!

10th June, 2020

Mad to be Normal.  In one of my notebooks, I found an old yellow post-it note inscribed with those words.  It must be a quote from somewhere but I am none the wiser.  Suffice to say, those four words are pertinent today.

Usual, typical or expected.  These are the words attributed to the definition of the word ‘normal’ in a dictionary.  I expect there will be call, in the not-too-distant future, for it to be removed if today’s climate is anything to go by.  Freedom of speech would seem a thing of the past as aggressive minorities demand, nay dictate the blanket acceptance of the world according to them; a blanket acceptance involving, first and foremost, an overhaul of the English language!

So it is that J K Rowling has been taken to task after posting a Twitter response, on Saturday past, to an Op Ed (what the hell is that?) entitled ‘Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.’  Her response: ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people.  Someone help me out.  Wumben?  Wimpund?  Woomud?’  Hallelujah, J K Rowling!  The courageous voice of reason this new world is trying so hard to extinguish.

Of course, the tweet was immediately called transphobic but, thankfully, J K did not back down, replying, in part: ‘If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.  … erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.  It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’  Amen to that.  (Sorry, I feel as though I am the echo in a gospel choir!)

Now, I am a big fan of Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, but he has taken a swipe at JK, following her voicing her opinion, at which I am disappointed.  He wrote a piece, on Monday, for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth, non-profit organisation.  Help!  That could be a Fastest Finger First question on Millionaire!  Anyway, he wrote: ‘Transgender women are women.  Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people…’.  I’m sorry but I am confused, here – everywhere – how, exactly, is one supposed/allowed to define the word ‘woman’?  It is getting ridiculous!

Worse, still, ‘Harry’ went on to apologise to fans for the writer’s remarks, ‘particularly if they negatively impacted the way people associate with the Harry Potter series.’  Seriously?

Why is it that, today, there is this over-riding need to cause controversy where there is none?  To misconstrue that which is blatantly obvious?  To be wholly intolerant of another’s right to an opinion?  To, seemingly, re-write lifeLife!  At the end of the day, each species is here to procreate; to ensure the longevity of its own.  Now, I think, since time began, biology has dictated that this requires a male and a female?  A man and a woman.  Usual?  Typical?  Expected?  The definition of ‘normal’.

People who menstruate’.  That controversial phrase supposedly used as a means of acknowledging that some people who are gender non-binary and transgender men also have periods.  Again, help!  I know I am not alone in struggling to keep up with the terminology, alone. Continuing … since forever, women have laid claim to menstruation – not through choice, I might add but, rather, for reasons of procreation.  Like it, or not, that is the norm!  That is not to say, however, that the norm is it!  In an ever-changing world, gender is multi-faceted and discrimination must not be tolerated.  Humanity, by definition, favours inclusivity.  I am, forever, harping on about the individual but, in truth, each one of us is different and acceptance is key.  Realistically, however, the collective mentality which abounds affords a confidence in numbers which, in turn, only serves to incite.  History cannot be re-written.  Biology cannot be changed.  Male and Female are, for the sake of terminology, normal; the norm.  No slight intended.  J K Rowling was right.  Women menstruate!  Of course, there are exceptions – and there is nothing wrong with the word ‘exception’.  The world is full of exceptions and thank goodness for that!  It is just a word.  Actually, while on the subject of words, I might add that I object to the word ‘straight’.  Always have.  However, it pales into insignificance in light of that which I discovered today: ‘cisgender’.  Apparently, it is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth and, thus, I am termed a cisgender woman!  No!  Not in my lifetime.  I am me! 

There have been calls for J K Rowling to apologise for her tweet.  May she not succumb.  One should never be forced to apologise for the truth.

6th June, 2020

The need to obey?  Apparently, I am missing that gene but, seemingly, I am in the minority!

Lockdown at the end of March.  The nation was instructed to stay at home venturing out, only, for food supplies and one bout of exercise per day to last no more than one hour.  No driving to exercise and no driving to second homes or other households.  We obeyed.  Correction.  We didn’t read the small print which declared Catherine Calderwood and Dominic Cummings exempt!

Then, Dutch-born Annemarie Plas initiated Clap for Carers having seen the same on a Dutch WhatsApp group of which she was a part.  A means of showing one’s appreciation for all on the frontline and connecting communities, it would take place on a Thursday evening at 8pm precisely…   It seems the nation came to a standstill as the streets were filled with residents clapping and making noise, in every which way possible, in a bid to be heard.  Every Thursday at 8pm.  It was a ritual and, once again, the nation willingly obeyed.

There followed 10 weeks of media scaremongering.  Constant updates on the number of fatalities and dramatic rhetoric worthy of an Olivier award.  The nation was terrified, venturing nowhere but every Thursday at 8pm, without fail, people stood on their doorsteps, ventured into the street – all the while observing the two-metre social distancing – or hung out of their windows to Clap for Carers.  Just an excuse to venture beyond the bars and socialise or programmed to obey?

Then, suddenly, the nation was told that Clap for Carers was to end and Thursday, 28th May would be the last.  What?  Sorry, of course, the nation obeyed.  No questions asked.  No more Thursday night ritual.

As the rules of imprisonment – sorry, lockdown – are beginning to ease, Ikea was one of the first retail outlets to re-open.  The images were haunting, at once, bringing to mind those of Tiananmen Square!  Just me?  No cars in the car park just people, queueing – two metres apart – snaking round, endlessly.  They were prepared to wait for four hours!  Why?  Programmed.  Told they were allowed out, they obeyed. 

Now, it seems there is a new lockdown law – in England – making it illegal to have sex with someone who is not part of one’s own household.  Seriously?!   You know what, though, most will comply, scared of the consequences – and programmed to obey!  (Sorry, remembering, always, that Dominic Cummings – and the likes of Catherine Calderwood – are exempt!)

This whole thing has been scary!  Of course, the virus, itself, is threatening but not to everyone.  The number of reported deaths is staggering but the handling of this pandemic – and the appalling disregard for the elderly and the vulnerable in care homes – has been eye-opening.  More than anything, however, I have been staggered by the mass willingness to obey without question.  There has been a marked disregard for common sense – never mind intelligence – throughout as we have been issued with rules and instruction courtesy of all media outlets.  Indoctrinated from dawn to dusk for more than ten weeks, most have willingly complied foregoing all need for personal input or decision-making.  Programmed to receive, the masses have obeyed, too scared to do otherwise – or just too lazy. 

As though waking from a long sleep, I find myself surrounded by aliens.  No, not these little green men stuck in Tiger Lily on a futile search for intelligent life but, rather, fellow human beings who, seemingly, have an On/Off switch where, once upon a time, there was a brain …

24th May, 2020

Yesterday, we were in the midst of what felt like a hurricane – Hurricane Take That!, I call it – but the sun shone, intermittently, and we needed to get out of the house and so Becca and I walked into town.  Blown to pieces, we made it, walking over 8,000 steps on the way.  We picked up some shopping before Manny collected us and, missing the beach, we decided to drive down and take a look before heading home.  The tide was way out, judging by the expanse of sand, but the water was close into the wall near town and appeared angry.  There were no waves, as such, but, rather, a swell and ripples of white blowing out to sea thus very different from the norm.  It is a Bank Holiday weekend, though!

A large police car pulled out in front of us and headed down to where the road stretches out along the front.  Now, we could see some kind of road block ahead with a further two large 4X4 law enforcement vehicles stopped – three cars, six policemen in all!  Clearly, about to be waved down, we were in utter disbelief at the scenario.  Here we were, nine weeks into lockdown, with the virtual handcuffs on the brink of being loosened, and six policemen are deployed to wave down any lone car which braves the weather and attempts to drive along an empty beach!  I re-iterate, this is a Bank Holiday weekend and assuming the glorious weather would continue, they had predicted people.  Excellent.  Pencil in three cars to enforce the lockdown rules!  However, Nature is nobody’s fool and, prone to bouts of sadistic humour, decided to hit back.  That being so, there would be no crowds to control and no need for any police.  Help!  Malfunction!  Unable to adjust programmeMust assume position at beach, regardless

So it was that there was a three car, six police roadblock for … well, us, really!  A suitable metaphor for a lockdown paying no heed to intelligence or common sense.  Programmed to receive.  Unable to adjust.

Interestingly, there were no masks or gloves and the young guy – who was very nice and seemed embarrassed – leant in the car window disregarding any enforced two metre social distancing!  He asked where we were going and, when told we had been shopping and were, merely, going for a drive along the beach, he explained that we were not permitted to drive here and could only walk on the beach if we lived within walking distance.  This would change next week but for now …  We wouldn’t be fined, on this occasion.  How utterly ridiculous!  Apart from the fact that we could just park up on The Scores and walk down, I have driven to and walked along that beach almost every evening for the past nine weeks, undisturbed.  Now, because it is a Bank Holiday weekend, they appear like robots, programmed to receive, ultimately to control, bereft of the, once, human ability to make intelligent judgement.  Seriously?!

27th April, 2020

Knight Frank.  Synonymous with wealth and prestige.  I used to aspire to one of the beautiful country piles marketed by the big KF, back in the day.  When it came to choosing an estate agent to expedite the sale of our house just over a year ago, however, Knight Frank was never in the running.  That echelon – well, not reached yet! 

That aside, not long ago, I happened to hear good things about a recent recruit to the New Property fold of the Edinburgh office.  Returning from London where he had spent time working for the esteemed Marsh & Parsons, he was soon recognised, internally, when a client expressed his gratitude, in writing, for his help and kindness when his very pregnant wife collapsed on a viewing.  Nice guy – both!

Similarly, unknowingly subjected to the scrutiny of a ‘mystery client’, he reaped a score of 85%, slipping up, only, on one piece of follow-up material.  The summary, however, recognised his natural way with people and, thus, his propensity for sales.  Believing he had found his niche, he made it known that he was keen to learn all aspects of the business.

This guy appreciated a warm welcome into a close-knit office, seemingly friends as well as colleagues, and the ambience was further assured by the presence of the two four-legged regulars.  Quick to recognise a kindred spirit, apparently they were never far from his desk, often accompanying him on walks in his lunch hour or, even, on viewings.    

Knight Frank.  Not only deserving of its prestige from a client prospective but in the eyes of an employee, too ….

Hang on!  Fast forward a couple of months.  This guy is no longer employed.  With a month remaining of his six-month probation, COVID-19 reared its ugly head.  Lockdown became inevitable, as did the effect on businesses and he was dispensable.  No contract.  No furloughing.  No commission – earned – forthcoming.  No friend.  No colleague.  Ranks closed.

I chose Rettie & Co to sell our house and am so glad I did.  Knight Frank?  Just another reminder that all that glitters is not gold …   

4th March, 2020

Cyclists.  Well, let’s start with cycling, in general.  So many positives.  1.  Great exercise.  2.  Huge plus in terms of the carbon footprint.        3.  No petrol required – economical.  4.  Dispels with need for contact with general public.  Could there be a more convincing positive … Chandler?!

All very well but what of the negatives?  Just one main one, really – the fact that it is contraindicative to a long and happy life with limbs!

Seriously!  Who, in his right mind (therein lies the key!), could possibly believe negotiating irate people in cars – in a city, in rush hour traffic – was a sane idea?  In the absence of cycle lanes, Russian Roulette would seem more attractive.  However, insanity abounds and the afflicted, seemingly, continue to raise one finger to the odds.  Now, I am no fan of public transport (surprising, I know) but I do have plans for a future.

So, having established all cyclists are mad – or, alternatively, have an acute aversion to the public with whom any contact increases one’s chances of the plague/Coronavirus – does that excuse, or explain, their behaviour at traffic lights?  Why? Just, why?  As a conscientious, placid driver, one pulls up at the red and, from the inside left, appears a cyclist who proceeds to pedal into position, centrally, right bang in from one’s car.  Sorry?  Did I miss something such as the development of a turbo-powered bike which is faster than a car?  Negative.  So, as an, erstwhile, placid driver – when the lights turn green – I, now, have to negotiate an idiot on two wheels who is on a power trip!  Superb.  No, still completely calm and singing ‘Que Sera Sera’ aka Doris Day.  I mean, this poor cyclist is either intellectually challenged or just worried about the Coronavirus?  Couldn’t possibly be that he is arrogant and hellbent on scoring points!  Don’t be silly.  That would just be negative …       

29th February, 2020

Extendable Leads.  The must-have for the lazy owner who cannot be bothered to spend the time, nor put in the effort required, to train his/her dog.  Warning!  Said owner has no control over said dog.  Boxer on extendable lead?  Sprint!

29th February, 2020

Firstly, check the date!

Emojis.  Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere.  Wonder if you can guess which category I fall into?  I have friends who seem more familiar with them than the actual alphabet but, personally, they leave me cold.  I don’t look at them but, then, I can’t see them!

That said, I was, recently, enlightened to the fact that the availability of these pesky symbols is to be updated to include – specifically – ones of the gender-inclusive variety.  So … bring on the transgender flag, the gender-neutral Santa, a gender-neutral person in a tuxedo and a moustached man wearing a white wedding dress and veil!  Confused?  You will be

The world has gone stark raving mad.  We harp on about mental health and its increasing decline manifested in depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and, worst of all, suicide but is it really any surprise?  Our entire infrastructure has crumbled along with the family unit.  There is nothing certain anymore; no anchor on which to rely; no strong foundations.  Anything goes.  Seriously!  Carry on but it’s the upcoming generations I feel sorry for; the children of the future.  They have no hope.  Devoid of traditional role models, labels are everywhere.  Never mind the individual, it’s all about inclusivity and laissez faire.  Two fathers, two mothers, gender neutral, answering only to the pronoun ‘they’ …  Stop the clocks!   

A minefield.  Meanwhile, on similar lines, the opportunity to personalise my own sticker popped up on my phone the other day.  Sitting in my car, I thought, why not?  So, choose hair, colour, eyes etc, etc and job done.  Wrong!  I was there for hours as the options unfolded …  Eyebrow piercing, nose piercing, tongue piercing and the rest.  Seriously?!  I thought freckles were pushing it!  

23rd February, 2020

Easy as Do Re Mi

Driving along – how else does one drive?! – last Monday, I was listening to Steve Wright on Radio 2 when one of the factoids hit home.  In truth, it was hardly a surprise but that makes it no less depressing.  See what you think.

Approximately one third of people in the UK have written nothing by hand in the last six months!

No words.  Actually, I have plenty but I just don’t know where to start.  Is this what we are faced with, a world of illiterate clones entirely dependent on the microchip?  The joy of reading is all but lost, now.  Social media has ensured its demise with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allowing no time for respite; the invaluable escapism offered in the pages of a book; another world.

There will always be a necessity to read – by some means – but I am more worried about the fragility of handwriting.  Justifiably so, according to the factoid.  Typing this on my laptop, the hypocrisy seems blatant.  Yes, the ease lies in the ability to delete, to save and to print – given – and even I rarely reach for a dictionary any more but I love to write by hand.  Always have.  Always will.  Few can read my writing but no matter.  It is mine

Back to the loss of anything pertaining to the individual …  Once upon a time – sadly, appropriate – the ability to read and write was all-important.  Letters were the building blocks for children and the key to it all.  Not anymore.  Now potties come with slots for ipads and babies are digitally programmed before they are weaned.  What need is there to learn the art of handwriting?  Manners are no longer offered and, thus, the ‘thank you’ letter is obsolete.  Far easier to send an impersonal email.  In fact, the invitation is all but dead, too.  No handwritten envelopes or cards denoting beautiful script.  Instead, check your inbox!  Nobody writes diaries or notes – it’s all on their phones.  Excepting in my case.  I do both!  Always have.  Always will.  I still write letters, too – and shall never tire of the thrill of receiving one in return.  I have the most special friend, Ginny, who is, quite simply, amazing!  Her energy, selflessness, talent and huge heart know no bounds.  Now in her late eighties, I wrote to her over thirty years ago and, not only did she carry my letter in her handbag, but she sent a personal one in reply and we have been friends ever since.  She has the most wonderful handwriting, totally ‘Ginny’; totally unique.  Suffice to say, I have kept every one of her letters and cards and they are among my most treasured possessions.

Do you know, seeing 1917, last week, renewed my determination to visit the Imperial War Museum in London.  It is something, I believe, which should be compulsory for all and I am ashamed to admit I have not yet been.  One thing I do know, however, is that handwritten letters are amongst some of the most treasured and poignant exhibits.  A lifeline for both soldiers and their families in World Wars I & II, what is the equivalent today?  An impersonal, printed email?  Worthy of neither a glass cabinet nor longevity.

23rd February, 2020

The BAFTAs, The Oscars … been and gone for another year leaving little more than the memory of the frocks!  Both huge events in the entertainment calendar, some of the hideous/ridiculous creations never cease to amaze me.  A budget to die for, the importance a given, yet so many get it so wrong.  Take Saiorse Ronan’s peplum Gucci gown – why the lampshade round her waist?  Few have learnt from the innate elegance of the past epitomised by Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.  Simple, understated and oozing class, is it so hard?  Perhaps it all comes down to confidence.  Those who choose to wear the ridiculous in a bid to be noticed try too hard, lacking the self-assurance and experience of those who have no need to do so.  Renee Zellweger deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Actress following her portrayal of the legendary Judy Garland in the biopic of her final weeks, Judy.  A superb film, the costumes were stunning and Renee could not have chosen a dress more fitting to accept her award.  The candy pink Prada column gown was perfection.  So elegant, so simple and so of that era when ladies delighted in their own femininity and, in turn, the appreciation of gentlemen which it demanded … halcyon days when manners and etiquette were a given.

Fast forward more than sixty years and confusion abounds reflected in every sphere of life.  The fashion industry seems to herald those who have a name rather than a talent.  Victoria Beckham?  Is it just me?  Her clothes – I hesitate to call them designs – alternate between the deadly dull and the utterly ridiculous.  She seems to have a fixation for the over-sized, over-long, over-everything!  Perhaps she’s just allowing for growth.  Anyway, those willing to pay the price do so in more ways than one. 

Similarly – though in another league – is Stella McCartney.  Now, I was a huge fan of her mother, who can be given much of the credit for my being a vegetarian, but Stella and her clothes – seriously?!  While I applaud her ethics, her designs are, for the most part, questionable.  I was reminded of this when I saw a photograph of the actress, Olivia Colman, on the Red Carpet at the Oscars.  Her dress, courtesy of Sir Paul’s daughter, was of midnight blue velvet – if you didn’t see it, google it.  Simple enough, save an unnecessary cape, it was the sleeves!  With two ridiculous cut-outs just below the shoulders, the design was totally incongruous.  It looked as though she had walked through a narrow doorway and caught both arms in the process or, failing that, the seamstress was an Origami addict!

So it is that Stella, through no fault of her own – or her talent – is fêted in the world of fashion.   I suggest that those lured by the name, however, would be well advised to make an early appointment at Specsavers!

6th February, 2020

Failed to meet the standards required.’  That is the quote attributed to the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in response to the revelation that her Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, had – for the last six months – been sending inappropriate messages to a sixteen year-old boy he had never met.

He ‘conducted himself in a manner unbecoming’ – Prince Andrew’s description of Jeffrey Epstein’s behaviour.

Both subject to damage limitation with no heed to morality.  Ego and cowardice.  Condemn as applicable …

6th February, 2020

Tracy Brabin, Labour MP, House of Commons, Tuesday, 4th February 2020.

I’m not sure where to begin!  Was it a statement?  Was it a dare?  Was it stupidity or just downright ignorance?  Who, in her right mind, would think an off-the-shoulder ‘number’ appropriate to these surroundings?  This is her job, for goodness sake, and, apparently, she was content to dress for a night out with the intent of debating serious issues. 

The subject of a huge backlash on social media, she said people should ‘listen to what we say not what we wear.’  Personally, I would find it hard to listen to what I wear but …  Surely, it’s a given that one should dress demurely if one wishes one’s audience to focus on one’s point?  From what I can see from the photographs, Ms Brabin’s fellow MPs had every reason to be focused on how much they were about to see as she leant forward!

Of course, there are the inevitable retorts of sexism but this has nothing to do with sexism.  Instead, it is justifiable criticism of an MP who was dressed totally inappropriately given her job and surroundings.  Nobody listened to what she had to say – she, alone, made sure of that.  Respect?  Only she who shows respect is deserving of it. 

Meantime, Boris is at home debating which t-shirt and short combo he should wear to ‘give weight to’ his comment on the latest SNP embarrassment?   They say black suits all …

4th February, 2020

Just remember to always look up – or not!  Ben Fogle is mid-way through his tour entitled ‘Tales from the Wilderness’.  The live version of his 2018 book, Up: My Life’s Journey To The Top of Everest, he is on stage for almost two hours as he delivers a very personal account of his life and his bid to exorcise the expectation of failure he came to accept growing up – regardless of an idyllic childhood.  A superb raconteur – although laying claim to incredible shyness – he is inspirational and his words are further brought to life by the accompanying stills and film footage on the big screen behind him.

Superbly put together, the introduction is a dramatic montage of his amazing adventures and achievements accompanied by music evocative of the danger he faced.  It is, most definitely, demanding of attention and, particularly, that of those who have chosen to come and listen to this fascinating guy on a Sunday evening …  I had seen him before in Glasgow – almost a year ago in March – when, a huge fan of New Lives in the Wild, I had bought two tickets for Manny’s Birthday. He was in London and missed it but Ben’s story is tailor-made for him and I desperately wanted him to see it – so it was, a year later, I got my wish and he loved it!

Seriously?!  You may question why Ben is on this page?  Not for long …  Seated in plenty of time, I was so looking forward to Manny’s reaction with so much for him to glean from Ben’s attitude to life as, meanwhile, we got up and down to let people into their seats.  Always a study, they were an eclectic mix – many sporting fleeces, shall we say – and the couple in front of us had adhered to the ‘dress code’.  Relevant?  Not really but I assumed they were ardent fans. 

7.30pm, lights down as the dramatic film montage and accompanying music struck the mood in preparation for Ben’s arrival on stage.  The anticipation was palpable but …  Hang on!  I forgot to ‘check in’ on Facebook!  No, not me, the woman in front who looked like she’d just been up Arthur’s Seat!  It was Manny who pointed it out to me as she proceeded to miss the entire opening while she told everybody she was there!!  Seriously?!  So many words come to mind, and most I shouldn’t write, but allow me ignorantDisrespectful?  Embarrassing?  To add insult to injury, she spent the entire interval checking for ‘likes’ rather than sharing her thoughts with the person next to her!  What is wrong with these people?  Am I missing the on/off switch?!

The irony is glaring.  Always remember to look up.  Did Ben get through to her?  Not a chance in hell but, for those of us there to listen and engage – affording this guy the respect he has more than earned – he was truly inspirational. 

Meanwhile, I think he thinks I am stalking him …

 

28th January, 2020

Just call me ‘Michael‘!  I happen to really like the name ‘Michael’ but it’s not mine!  Seemingly, however, that doesn’t matter to Aviva, the insurance company where everybody knows your name – if it’s Michael!  So much fun to be had with this …  It was only brought to my attention on the lunchtime news whilst driving home and listening to Jeremy Vine (nothing wrong with setting the scene …).

Anyway, thanks to a ‘temporary technical error’, several thousand customers were sent emails wrongly addressed to ‘Michael’.  Promptly followed by an apology from Aviva and the assurance that no personal data was compromised, it, nevertheless, does make one think.  In this digital age – and on the brink of replacing ourselves with robots – will one’s name be of any note in the years to come?  Cloned and devoid of character – let alone gender – we might as well all become a bunch of ‘Michael’s.  I mean, it could be worse.  Fast forward to Planet of the Robots and the name of choice might be ‘Nigel’!  I rest my case.

28th January, 2020

Bring Back The Bush: Where Did Our Pubic Hair Go? Yes, it, actually, does say that! It was a scheduled programme on Channel 4 last night (27/1/20) at 10pm. How do I know that? Did I watch it? Are you kidding?! Channel-hopping. Do so at one’s own risk, apparently! I’m not sure what to say, here, except that the depths to which television has stooped are nothing short of the dregs – as Pop would say. To think that the Queen’s English once emanated from that box in the corner – now, most commonly, a cinema screen the size of an entire wall rendering void the need for wallpaper – and one was bid ‘Goodnight’ at Midnight by a Cary Grant/David Niven-esque announcer before the National Anthem marked the end of transmission … Ah, the days of gentlemen and ladies, when English was a recognisable language and manners were expected. When humour required talent rather than four-letter words and families gathered round the television, together, content in the knowledge that the entertainment was for all. What happened?

We, now, pay for a plethora of channels, most showing utter garbage. Evening slots are dominated, nightly, by seedy, depressing soaps which would drive even the most balanced to drink! Most, six episodes per week, no wonder there is only time to order a take-away in the bid to keep up …

Thank goodness for the likes of Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild, the too few but unrivalled travelogues of both Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley, Jeremy Clarkson’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (worthy!) and numerous repeats of old classics from the era when television reflected life – wholesome, gentle, balanced. There was an unspoken pride. Nail on head! That was then and this is now. Like it or not, life, today, is geared to the lowest common denominator and nobody is permitted to complain – oh, excepting the minority! In a world in which ‘privilege’ is a swear word and education replaced by ignorance, it is no wonder programmes such as Naked Attraction and Bring Back The Bush exist. On the bright side, we can’t sink any lower … surely?

13th January, 2020

I remember how infuriated I was in the lead up to the ‘once in a generation’ Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014.  Granted, the very idea infuriated me but, on repeated occasions affording the opportunity for questions, nobody broached one very relevant subject: free university tuition fees for Scottish students, introduced by the SNP government in 2008. 

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is happy to cite the flagship policy as evidence of Scotland’s innovative, generous government but, in practice, it is nothing more than a clever deception, affordable only because said government imposes a cap on the number of places held for Scottish students!  Who knew?  Well, those who have been denied a place at the university of their choice as a result – my son, for one.  Eventually managing to secure an appointment with the Admissions Officer at Edinburgh University, he was blatantly told that there were places available on the course of his choice but they were, specifically, for fee-paying students.  What’s more, she went on to say that the University had an ‘arrangement’ with China!  Supporting one’s own.  Way to go!

How has Nicola Sturgeon succeeded in, seemingly, avoiding any meaningful backlash in this regard thus far?  Baffling.  So it was that I could hardly contain my delight at seeing Simon Johnson’s piece in The Daily Telegraph (13/1/20), ‘Scots ‘squeezed out’ of places at university’.

A few facts (and quotes) from said article: latest figures from UCAS, the university admissions body, show only 55% of applications from Scotland resulted in an offer of a place compared to an offer rate of 74% for fee-paying students from the rest of the UK and 65% for those from elsewhere in the EU. (The Sunday Times also disclosed that offer rates for Scots have fallen from 70% in 2008.)

14,200 Scottish applicants failed to gain a place last year, equivalent to almost 3 out of 10 – according to UCAS, a total around 60% higher than before the SNP brought in ‘free’ tuition!  Blamed on the cap not keeping pace with the demand for places, it is reported that the proportion of Scottish students north of the Border – across the board – has fallen from 75% in 2006 to 65%.

‘Overall, Scots make up only 44% of new entrants to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews.’  

Seriously?!  Difficult to argue figures and, in the week in which Boris has issued an emphatic ‘No’ to ‘Indyref2’, it would seem this flagship policy has been exposed in all its glory – or maybe not!

15th October, 2019

I entitled this post, Margo, which would be lost on all but the very few but, suffice to say, we had the most horrendous neighbour of that name and she always reminded us of Nicola Sturgeon!  I know I should avoid politics – guaranteed to offend – but, a huge advocate of free speech, I feel compelled to vent.

Picking up yesterday’s Telegraph (14/10/19), one of the sub-headlines on the front page was the following: ‘SNP don’t rule out hard border.’  The First Minister (how did that happen?) has admitted that a hard border between Scotland and England may be the necessary price to pay for Scottish independence – apparently not her fault, of course!  Threatening an imminent request for a second referendum within the next few weeks, speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, ‘she also re-iterated that her MPs will reject any deal Boris Johnson brings back from Brussels …’. (Simon Johnson)  Intelligent?  Mature?  Neither.  Just deliberately difficult.  Meanwhile, the irony is the herd of elephant in the room …

This country (United Kingdom) has been in utter turmoil for more than three years, unable to reach a Brexit agreement because of the problem regarding the Irish backstop: the endeavour to insure against a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  However, Nicola Sturgeon is – and always has been – singing to her own tune and she cares not a jot that her current quest for independence – of course, rooted in EU membership – would, at this point, demand exactly such a border between Scotland and England.  Hellbent on her place in history, she saw in Brexit the perfect excuse for a second referendum, regardless.  Has she such an allegiance to Brussels?  Is there any guarantee that the EU would even want, or welcome, an independent Scotland?  Irrelevant.  All that matters is that she plays to the grievances of the masses, feigning empathy long enough to achieve her egotistical goal.  Chapter Two: Tragic Consequences.  Nicola’s Way.  Chapter Three?  Exodus.

5th October, 2019

I was convinced I uploaded this post yesterday but …  apparently not.  Memory.  Tricks.  Don’t mention Birthdays …  Anyway, suffice to say, my observations were worthy of the notebook as I drove into town last Saturday on a beautiful, autumn morning.  The pavements were alive with robots!  Well, not quite but the sea of students in gym gear, all ‘plugged in’, looking down, isolated and detached, struck me.  What is wrong with this world?  St Andrews is home to the famous West Sands, a stunning beach.  Stretching for miles, it is unspoilt, largely unpeopled and clean.  Nature’s own playground, it is perfect for walking, running, riding … exercise of the traditional kind in the fresh air!  Why is it, therefore, that the default, today, is to frequent a sweaty, germ-infested gym, choosing a mindless treadmill alongside all the other sheep?  Therein lies the answer: sheep.  The overwhelming need to do what everybody else is doing; to run with the crowd.  God forbid!  Take a look around.  See!  Unplug and, ironically, reconnect.

3rd October, 2019

Driving in the dark.  Should I burst into song?!  No, seriously, car headlights!  What is going on?  Licence to blind or what?  Never a fan of driving at night, now it’s a bit like Russian roulette – a hit or a miss.  How is anybody supposed to see the road ahead when the oncoming traffic has headlights worthy of the Gestapo?!  Totally blinding and that’s when dipped.  Fine on a motorway but what of winding country roads?  Of course, silly me, it’s all down to memory,  Thankfully, I know the roads round here like the back of my hand but, then, can the same be said of the person coming the other way?  Help!

Anyway, point made.  Anybody listening?  Somehow I think most would be in agreement.  Just another example of the lunacy that is life today.  Who is in charge?  Please get me the Manager!

19th September, 2019

Incensed.  To accuse Justin Trudeau of racism because someone has dug out ‘incriminating’ photographs of him at a private party in 2001 – 18 years ago – is nothing short of pathetic! It was a fancy dress party, the theme of which was Arabian nights, for goodness sake.  He went as Aladdin; Aladdin who has dark skin and wears a turban. Fact.  In what way does that make him racist?!  There are so many undercurrents, here, it is scary and the speed at which the piranhas have gathered, telling.  What is wrong with this world?  Political correctness is the invisible dictator and that which incites.  Poised to attack, the majority buckle and conform, brains dis-engaged.  Were that not the case, perhaps the real agenda would be exposed and the venomous minority would be deprived of their anonymity. In other words, stop!  Think twice – or even once would suffice.  Justin Trudeau is not a racist.  He attended a private fancy dress party 18 years ago and went in costume, as per the invitation.  The character he chose was of dark skin.  Guilty.

The human race is both multi-cultural and multi-coloured and the world, today, is much more inclusive.  People are black.  People are brown.  People are white.  Fact. Stopping short of banning all costume parties and dressing up boxes for fear of offending, think about it.  The real racist is not Justin Trudeau but he who accused him of being so; he of that mindset.  Most would not bat an eyelid were it not for those politically correct extremists who incite trouble where there is none.  To quote a good friend, ‘If your mind is dark, you can never see light.’  (Okey, Rome, 22/10/18)

Further incensed, tonight, by The Cameron Years (BBC One, 9pm).  To be continued in this coming Sunday’s blog post …

18th September, 2019

Does anyone else have a postman who drives his little red van from door-to-door?  Seriously?  I’ve watched ours as he gets in and out and drives a matter of feet, in some cases, to the next house!  Apparently, he’s in the pub by lunchtime.  Life and sussed come to mind: minimum input, maximum enjoyment.  Inclined to mock; deserving of envy.  Just thought I’d share …

15th September, 2019

I pressed the Red Button on the television, yesterday, whilst writing my blog and I am so glad I did. Thoroughly enjoyed the live coverage of BBC 2’s Festival In A Day and Status Quo were absolutely superb!  However, inevitably, I found fodder for this page …

An eternal bugbear of mine: those that sit on shoulders, loving themselves, at concerts.  Unbelievably selfish.  No thought for the people behind who, too, paid for their tickets and have the right to see the stage rather than someone else’s back.  Thing is, in today’s society, everybody is afraid to say boo, unsure of the repercussions: a mouthful of abuse, at the very least, or worse. Anybody who is devoid of manners or any consideration for others is unlikely to be apologetic.  However, that is exactly why they do it – because they can!

Not a fan of the Pet Shop Boys, I really wasn’t concentrating by the time they came on. Headlining, apparently.  I was aware, however, of the multi-coloured balloons and multitude of inflatable, multi-coloured fat suits on stage with them; moreover, with stockings over their heads to conceal their identities. Sinister.  Then, it dawned on me.  Multi-coloured? No identity?  Gender fluid! Or maybe gender neutral?  Confused?  You will be!  My reaction?  Too much. Unnecessary.  As with Brexit – tired of it all.  Switched off.  Why couldn’t the Pet Shop Boys just let their music do the talking?  Rhetorical?    Status Quo and Westlife knocked them out of the park relying on talent alone.

12th September, 2019

Did anyone see Seahorse:The Dad Who Gave Birth on BBC 2 on Tuesday night (10/9/19)?  We caught it while channel-hopping and I have to say, it was gripping – for all the wrong reasons; utter disbelief being the most notable.  Making notes, I was going to devote my blog to my thoughts and reaction to said documentary but the very subject matter is a minefield.  Don’t go near quicksand if you know it is there!  So, a synopsis …

It was a film which followed Freddy McConnell – a gay, transgender man – in his determined quest to carry his own baby.  Obviously still wrestling with his demons, though believing that his true self was always male, he originally decided to co-parent with his friend and occasional partner, a fellow transgender man. (I need to pause, here, after reading an article in Tuesday’s Telegraph (10th), online, courtesy of Sarah Hughes.  Apparently, Freddy’s transgender friend/partner, CJ, liked to be known by the plural pronouns, ‘they/their’.  Thus, CJ changed their mind.)  Seriously?

Suffice to say, Freddy became pregnant using a sperm donor and the film charted his progress up to – and including – the birth of his … son.  Oh, help!  How is that child ever going to cope?  Imagine having to explain that his Dad – because that’s what Freddy wants to be called – used to be a girl, transitioned into a male, wanted to have a baby, used a sperm donor and voilà!  Now, the slant of the film was very much from Freddy’s prospective and very much sympathetic. Freddy wants so Freddy shall have.  Not a thought for the poor baby with no biological father and a birth mother for a Dad! Yes, by all means, sympathise with Freddy being born in the wrong body with all the soul-searching and problems he has had to face but that is nothing in comparison to what his son will have to endure.  Completely and utterly selfish!  Why create another life?  In his quest for unconditional love, why didn’t he adopt a baby who needed his?  Freddy’s mother was totally supportive and tearful as she declared her son brave.  What was she thinking?  She will have to live with the part she played.  Meanwhile, that little baby boy – her grandson – will need all the courage he can muster in life.

11th September, 2019

Just a quick question – or two!  Are there no universities in America?!  Are there any Scottish students at St Andrews?  Seriously?  William and Kate have so much to answer for!  Too many exclamation marks …?

9th September, 2019

Perhaps I should be gagged when it comes to slamming social media – the word hypocrite comes to mind.  I detest it for so many reasons – many of which I frequently state – but I do use it and, let’s face it, there is little choice in today’s climate.  So, hypocrite, I am.  I don’t like it but I’ll take it!  That being so … help me understand this:  why does anyone find it necessary to post on Facebook one’s wedding anniversary?  An achievement it may be and feel free to gush forth about the attributes of one’s husband or wife but, surely, said gushing is for your other half alone – in private!  Why does anyone else need to be party to it?  Do one’s friends need to know she/he is an incredible mother/father or that she/he has been one’s rock?  I’m sure they know.  What happened to a card?  Silly me, that might involve writing or even buying a stamp.  Or maybe, not – I am forgetting that website of the hideous name!  Enough.  Rant I might but, then, is it any different to the old-fashioned request on the radio?  What of Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs?  Guess what, I love the music but the dedications are, quite frankly, bucket-worthy! Just me?

5th June, 2019

The invasion of the Dog Walkers! There was a time when one needed a licence to own a dog. Now one is merely required to pay a small fortune for someone else to walk one’s ‘best friend’ – preferably driving a white van! Seriously? Why have a dog if one is unable to look after it oneself? Of course, there are those whose circumstances change but to most, now, a dog walker is just another household direct debit in ‘status symbol land’ (Pleasant Valley Sunday, The Monkees.)

Of late, a huge white van arrives daily to collect the daschund next door before, regularly, ringing the doorbell across the road (the driver, that is) to be handed the dog and lead by the owner of said dog who cannot be bothered to take it for a walk. Far better that someone is paid to exercise one’s pet, en masse, ensuring the pack mentality is alive and well and said pooch can then be ignored for the rest of the day unless someone drops round requiring of a display of feigned affection. God forbid, one has to open the cage! What is wrong with this world?

4th June, 2019

Other drivers! Isn’t it strange how the car seems to fit the driver? Then there’s the things dangling from the mirror … why? The minute I pull out, it’s the same old story testing patience, endurance, my ‘secret’ grasp of expletives and, ultimately, forcing an acceptance that not only is chivalry dead and buried but manners – the very concept is alien to most fellow road users. Perhaps a few examples: the one who drives at a snail’s pace in the outside lane – a full ‘shop’ dangling from the mirror – who then sees the lights change to red up ahead and all but grinds to a halt leaving space for the Titanic! His ‘cousin’ who, in a queue of traffic, leaves space for a juggernaut between himself and the car in front … Not forgetting the rest of his ‘family’ who, when kindly let in or flashed to go, never say ‘thank you’! What happened to lifting one’s hand in acknowledgement? Don’t be ridiculous, that would involve effort. Just press a button. Then there’s the battle of wills scenario when two lanes merge into one – great design – and the boy racer on the left, requiring a booster seat to see over the steering wheel, is hell-bent on proving his manhood. Easier to take the bus? Now that presents a whole lot of other problems!

24th April, 2019

Does it really require two people? Shopping, that is. Whether it be in the supermarket or shopping for clothes, couples are everywhere and there is nothing worse than the sight of a hen-pecked husband or boyfriend trailing around after his other half, seriously! If nothing else, they are just unnecessary bodies in a confined space … A long-time bugbear, I might add. Marks & Spencer is the worst. Twee in the extreme, there they are on a Saturday afternoon obediently feigning interest or pushing the trolley with the ‘incentive’ of a coffee and a cake in the café afterwards with all the other clones. I just hope they remember to take the required pill or they may malfunction! Scary or what? Makes me feel positively claustrophobic … but they seem happy.

2nd April, 2019

Am I the only person left who cannot stand multi-coloured bunches of flowers? It would seem that the whole world wants nothing more than a glorified bouquet of ‘garage’ blooms incorporating every colour available. This week, I couldn’t find one single bunch of white tulips in Marks, instead faced with bucket loads of purple, pink and yellow ones wrapped up together – as if they even go! No sign, either, of my long-stemmed cream lilies so … That’s today’s supermarket shopping for you – not a place for the minority. Nothing for it but to go and live on a small holding with everything ‘organic and handmade’ (quote from legal archives!).

23rd March, 2019

Marks & Spencer. What can I say? In an attempt to be brief, order over the phone at one’s own risk! In an act of kindness, I decided to purchase a pair of boots for Becca and placed an order with the lovely Emily. Something simple seemed to take forever of course and, complaining of a computer malfunction, she had to phone me back. Eventually, purchase of one pair of boots complete. Well, yes, but she had taken it upon herself to order another two pairs just in case there was a problem! I received an email notifying me that £135 had been taken from my account – but, not to worry, Marks & Spencer had refunded me £90. Good old Marks & Spencer! The fact that the refund would take 3-5 working days to go back into my account … my direct debit account. Spending time I shall never get back on the phone in utter rage, I was told that this had never happened before and they had no provision whatsoever for transferring the £90 straight back into my account. Be warned. I, for one, shall never order from said shop again.

24th February, 2019

What of Meghan Markle’s extravagant Baby Shower in New York this week? Private jet to New York and staying in suites costing £45,000 a night? Let’s look at those involved: my favourite, Serena ‘Tantrum’ Williams and prominent Human Rights Lawyer, Amal Clooney to name but two. Great to see they’re all saving the planet and watching the carbon footprint about which they so fervently preach. Well perhaps not Serena who is too busy harping on about women’s rights whilst designing her outfit for her next match. What of the homeless and human rights? Don’t be ridiculous! Seemingly select amnesia goes hand-in-hand with obscene wealth and charity most definitely begins at home. Personally, I think Amal Clooney should hang her intelligent head – yet again!

15th February, 2019

I was watching Graham Norton tonight when he introduced Calvin Harris and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (refrain!) in the music segment near the end of the show. Graham Norton attracts big names who seem happy to perform live, solo or with band, full stop. No back drops, no light fests, the focus is the song. Not in the case of Calvin Harris and ‘Steptoe’! One stood at the back ‘mixing’ (??) while the other sang, seemingly unperturbed by the fact that he was surrounded by a holocaust of dead Christmas trees! Being that it’s still February, could it be that there is a connection between the discarded trees and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man? I know the collection of rubbish leaves much to be desired these days but … Why, though? What was the point? Just think of the effort, the expense and the whole thing just looked ridiculous adding nothing to the song, Giant. Perhaps I am missing something? Perhaps not. I did, however, watch closely to see how they were going to climb out of this dead forest to make it over to the couch. Seriously?