Saturday, 6 February 2016

Let's Enlargen and Embiggen the Soul

SURFING the net I came across this little gem.

Enlargen? Seriously?

I think the writer has been watching too many episodes of The Simpsons. Written on the statue of Jebediah Springfield are the words: "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." When teacher Edna Krabappel questioned the word embiggen, fellow teacher Miss Hoover replied: "I don't know why; it's a perfectly cromulent word." Made me laugh.

Far too many people who write for the internet write in Simpsons-ese (see, I've made up another word!).

But as Ralph Wiggum said: "Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Amazon Fan

I AM a big fan of Amazon (the online shop, not the river or a woman you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night). Since I no longer work in the sprawling metropolis that is Barnstaple and the dearly beloved keeps stealing my car I am more housebound than I would like. But Amazon has come to the rescue to provide me with all kinds of products from a witch's hat to hibiscus tea.

I should perhaps explain that the witch's hat was for a fancy dress party. I might live in the back of beyond but I haven't yet come across a coven or a giant wicker man with Edward Woodward trapped inside. No doubt these types of things go on but no one seems to want to see me dancing around a bonfire wearing nothing more than a pair of fake horns. Their loss.

In my experience Amazon does exactly what it says it will do. It delivers promptly and if there is a problem they solve it. I can't get over the fact that on Wednesday I have ordered three packets of magic beans and by Thursday they have arrived. By Saturday I am stealing a golden egg from a giant. Or something like that...

Before buying anything, though, I read through the reviews. Why are some people so incredibly stupid? This morning I was looking at a review for a book by Anne Cleeves of whom I am a big fan. She wrote the books that TV series Vera and Shetland are based on.

Here's a one-star (out of five) review:  "Riveting read first time l have read an Ann cleaves novel
Can't wait to read the next one don't get any work done as I can't put the book down ."

I'll ignore the total misspelling of Anne Cleeves and the lack of any punctuation, but I can't ignore the fact she's given the book the lowest rating possible for a book she "can't put down". What?

Amazon reviews have taken on a life of their own and there are now a swathe of spoof ones. In fact Amazon have been so amused by some of them they have singled out a few HERE.

The review of the Box Canvas Print of Paul Ross says: “If you only buy one 20 inch canvas print of Paul Ross this year, this is the one to get.”

My claim to fame is that I worked with Paul Ross when he started out as a trainee reporter on the (now defunct) Western Times. The Western Times office was based in the Express and Echo office in Exeter where I was an inept editorial assistant before undertaking journalism training.

I'll finish now with my favourite reviews of all time. Amazon was selling Bic Pens For Her. One woman wrote:  "Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long. I use it when I’m swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga. It’s comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty."

And another from a man:  “I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree-felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.”

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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Shopping At Sainsbury's

YESTERDAY I did it again. I convinced myself that going through the self check-out aisle in Sainsbury's in Barnstaple would be quicker than queuing behind a granny who wanted to pay her £25 bill in coins of the realm and the woman in dungarees with enough lentils and soya bean curd piled into her trolley to feed a field of people at Peterborough Green Festival.  

Will I never learn. 
For those of you who have given this facility a wide berth, let me explain. It sounds quick and easy. You take your packet of turkey twizzlers, 3lbs of lard and giant pack of oven chips and scan them through yourself. Insert your own bank card and, hey presto, you're done. 

Not so. 

I was told to place my bags in the bagging area. I placed them. A disembodied voice comes from the screen "unexpected item in the bagging area".  A loud voice. I felt like a shoplifter, except anyone could see that I had nothing at all in the bagging area except a few miserable looking carrier bags. I think it was trying to humiliate me because my "bag for life" (which incidentally, is what the Dearly Beloved sometimes calls me) was from Tesco.

An assistant comes and presses a few buttons and I'm away.

All goes swimmingly until I have the temerity to move a bag in the bagging area so I can reach another. Off it goes again: unexpected item in the bagging area. Back comes the assistant who presses those buttons and all is well. This happens three more times. By the third visit, the assistant's smile is beginning to fade and she starts to look sideways at me. Do I have a packet of frozen peas secreted about my person?

I'm scared. Will I have to submit to an intimate body search from a 25 stone security guard with dirty fingernails? But she gives me the benefit of the doubt and  I'm doing my impression of a checkout girl once more.

Now, occasionally you have to have an item verified. I've always assumed this is to check you are over 18 if you are buying alcohol, for example, or to stop a 14-year-old with a glazed expression on his spotty face from buying a pump action shotgun.

However... I had the temerity to buy a packet of teaspoons. Yes. Teaspoons. And I'm told to get the item verified.

The assistant who formerly had been giving me the once over, was now smiling.

"Goodness," she said. "I don't know what they think you're going to do with teaspoons. Maybe make a shank!"  Both of us look like respectable (-ish) women, well past the first flush of youth and have no business knowing anything about shanks (knives made in prison out of any bit of metal an inmate can lay his hands on, as I'm sure the less respectable of you will know).  

While she's 'verifying' my teaspoons/shanks we have a little chat about America's Toughest Prisons on Sky.  TV can be soooo educational!

So I finish my shopping at last, complete with the raw material for a shank or two. I wouldn't mind, but the teaspoons weren't even for me. They were my for my mother who is in her 90s. I don't think she'll be filing them down and sharpening them up. Not with her arthritis.

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sweet and Sour Sauce

First words to the dearly beloved this morning: “Any particular reason why there’s sweet and sour sauce in the cat’s bowl?"

Heavy night.

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Monday, 10 August 2015

Surely Not Spam

I GET very depressed when I start thinking about all those villains spread across the globe who only want to con you and part you from your cash.

I frequently get emails from "friends" who have been stranded while on holiday and only need me to transfer £2,000 to a bank account so they can get back home to dear old Britain. My friends must be a dopey lot - because they're ALWAYS getting into trouble somewhere in the world.

There's the African president who would like to send me billions of pounds because he can't get the money out of his country after his father died of beri-beri and there was a military a coup. I'm puzzled why he picked on an old Devon maid like me - but soooo honoured. Must remember to send him all my bank details a.s.a.p.

I've lost count of the number of competitions and lotteries I've won, which is a miracle because I haven't entered any competitions or lotteries.

Then there are the spam comments that, thankfully, my blog intercepts. I got this one only yesterday. But I'm not sure that it's spam. What do you think?

Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept Here is my blog post italian learning software on etc.

I think it's genuine. I must click through....

Here's another:

I think this is among the so much vital info for me. And i'm satisfied studying your article. But wanna commentary on some common things, The site taste is wonderful, the articles is actually excellent : D. Just right task, cheers Here is my website: etc

What is even more depressing than the snake oil salesmen and the con artists thinking you just might fall for their spiel is that there must be people out there who actually do get conned or the crooks would be out of business.

Who in their right mind thinks they have won $1,000,000 in the Louisiana state lottery when they've never bought a ticket or visited the place? Why would Prince Mtobobo choose an ordinary person who's never been further than the Costa Del Sol on a Thomas Cook package holiday as a conduit through which to send billions of Djiboutian francs, or whatever? Or that a website which advertises itself as "the go-get premier agency for lucid collaring" is genuine?

Some people almost deserve everything they get.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

Stanley Baxter

THE better half stayed up late last night to watch a documentary about the brilliant Stanley Baxter. The young whippersnappers among you have probably never heard of him. He was an actor/impressionist, very popular in the 1970/80s. Last year Scotsman Baxter, who is 89, was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence before the referendum. 

Here's a sketch he did about Mastermind. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Targeted Advertising

I DON'T really mind, although occasionally find it worrying, that my every move is being tracked on the internet and every little bit of information about me is being gathered by firms desperate to sell me their goods.

Hence, my Facebook page is full of ads for wrinkle cream and weight loss products - can't think why -  and I'm later invited to buy every book I've ever glanced at on Amazon. If I order a double-widget screw facilitating hammer drill (or something) for the dearly beloved (a cabinet-maker), I am later bombarded with ads for other extremely interesting (as in, dull as ditchwater) wood-working gadgets.

I get "hilarious" posts from cat websites, all convinced that I desperately want to see yet another moggie climbing the curtains. Not that I mind those....

If I look wistfully at dresses that would just about fit around one leg, those self-same dresses later appear as ads on another website I happen to be looking at.

I accept all that but WHY in the name of all that's holy did I get THIS on my Facebook page?

A catheter? What on earth have I looked at on the internet that makes anybody think I would be at all interested in buying my own catheter? How does that even work? (No, please don't answer that.)

I'd look it up on the internet - or even apply for that "free sample" - but I'm scared of being inundated with similar ads.

Just for the record, I would like it to be known that as an adult, I HAVE NEVER PEED MYSELF.

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