Good Riddance!

The decade is almost over. How was it for you? For some it will have been a life-changing 10 years, as the sixties were for so many of we ‘boomers’. For others it will have been harrowing or depressing. However you feel about the 2010s there will have been amazing innovations as well as gaping anomalies. Since turkeys are so much more entertaining than peacocks, as we close the decade here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of my personal gripes of the last 10 years, the trends I’d like to see die out in the ‘twenties’.

  1.  Built-in obsolescence.

Moving to a house with a spiral staircase led us to buy the wondrous item that is a cordless vacuum cleaner, and delighted we were-except that after 2 years the battery was lasting long enough to hoover a modest sized bath mat. Three hundred pounds worth of cleaner and a battery which costs £299 [or thereabouts] to replace.

Then there’s the growing heap of redundant devices in a deep drawer in our office [‘office’ sounds posher than it is-for office, read ‘glory hole’-a term my mother used for a dumping ground]. Their batteries are extinct, their operating systems superseded. My current laptop [being written on as I speak] is losing its longevity when untethered. It’s time for all this constant consumerism to stop.

2.  The Ghost High Street

The UK is not alone in experiencing the death of its vibrant town centres. Empty shops, flaking facades and litter strewn doorways can be seen throughout Europe’s towns. It is not, however the same for every High Street, since some communities have fought back in a variety of innovative ways. My favourites are those that have replaced tired ‘chain’ cafes and betting shops with delicatessens, independent cafes, micro-pubs, refill and eco shops, fair-trade and recycled or handmade goods. While everyone needs barbers and nail salons you can have a little too much of the grooming business.

Wouldn’t it be just great to see 1. on the list above combined with 2., so that each and every High Street had a repair workshop where you could get a battery replaced, a hose for a vacuum cleaner, a new pocket in your favourite trousers, new heels on your shoes, a watch strap or some re-upholstery?

Or how about a swap shop, where for a small charge you could swap the designer dress you’ve grown tired of [or grown out of] for something of equivalent value? Or somewhere you could borrow an item-like a bicycle, a posh outfit or a painting?

Of course all this would require cash-strapped councils to use their imaginations and waive or limit their rates. I don’t suppose many of them are forward-thinking enough to do it…

3. Packaging

At the risk of doing the thing to death, the plastic dilemma continues to run and run. Myself, I’m at a loss. I bought the re-usable vegetable bags. I tried to use them. Each time I visit a supermarket [one of which claims to be in the forefront of recyclable, ‘plastic-free’ goods] there is less loose produce available for those with their own bags. I’ve posted before about the frosty reception I received for presenting my own containers at the deli counter…

I also read that more and more plastic bottles of water are being sold. Water! We do not live in a third world country without piped water. Our drinking water is clean. I’d like someone to explain to me why anyone in this day and age, living in a country with clean sanitation and tapped drinking water needs to BUY bottles of the stuff. Please stop this madness now! Or else the government need to force the companies that cynically sell this over-priced commodity to use glass or compostable containers.

4. Selfies

What an appropriate word ‘selfie’ is! Is anyone else fed up with self-absorbed, pouting, thrusting, leg-out, chest-out, ‘I’m-having-a-wonderful-time-with-all-my-friends-not-you-drinking-eating-drunk’ photos? Last year in Venice we were almost unable to look at anything without posing selfie-takers draping themselves in front of it. Enough!

5. Subscription TV

I’ve done the free Netflix trial. It was pants. I’m not doing Amazon Prime for a variety of reasons [Jeremy Clarkson is one]. I mostly watch BBC. I loath ad breaks. I’m a dinosaur.

6. Celebrity nobodies [and the challenge programmes they are all on].

7. Shoulders sticking out of tops and knees poking out of jeans.

8. ‘Smart’ things.

9. Pompous, egotistical, old, white, male, megalomaniac leaders of nations.

10. Annoying lists.

I expect you’ll have your own ideas about what should die, reader. Feel free to post in the comments! Happy New Decade!



Apologies to Blondie…

Owing to a number of factors [of which regular readers of this blog will be aware] I have had to use up precious hours of the life-hours I no longer have enough of-by waiting on the telephone. Gas installers, electricity providers, telephone companies, ex-electricity providers, tax inspectors, on line ‘help’ communities-these are some of the faceless establishments whose musical miscellanies it has been my misfortune to have to endure.

I am now a connoisseur regarding ‘waiting-on-the-telephone’ musical selections. Soon-to-be ex Electricity providers ‘Scottish and Southern’s’ offering is not to my taste, consisting of about six tracks which rotate in a monotonous loop of rapping, heavy metal and Bryan Adams. Eon, who are about to be the new provider at least have a non-abrasive classical offering.

To achieve the point at which you must listen to this dross you will have undergone a process involving selecting options. The options begin with the ‘main menu’. There may be five, six or more options on the main menu. By the time option number five is described I have forgotten options one, two, three and four. Since ‘what was that again?’ is not one of the options I try a random number which may or may not be ‘to speak to a human being’. Once I have selected the human being number I am on hold once more with Bryan Adams et al.

By now the carpal tunnel symptoms in my wrist has begun to show displeasure at being held in such a position by playing dead. My brain reels in sympathy and since I am sitting at the PC I begin a single handed round of Freecell Solitaire which sucks me in so that when, half an hour or so later a proper human voice asks me how they can help I have totally forgotten who I called, what I called about, or even that I called at all. It is tempting, at this point to ask the voice why my solitaire game has been rudely interrupted.

This is the point where the human explains you have got through to the wrong department, that they cannot help you, that you need to ring such-and-such a number; or if they are kindly they may even put you through to the department you may [or may not] need. Once you have gone through the musical diversion, the options menu and the lottery of a selection process again you have the joy of explaining the problem, going through your details, telling the voice your date of birth, postcode, name of your first dog and bra size all over again.

After several days I begin to feel that the loss of life hours is irrelevant, owing to a gradual seepage of desire to exist. They have worn me down. I fully understand the meaning of ‘soul-destroying’. This is how organisations, corporations and companies keep us, the masses under their control. ‘Your call may be monitored for training purposes’ intones the robotic responder and I wonder how much training is involved in making everyone’s life a drudgery. They keep me ha-aaanging on the te-e-lepho-one…