Tag Archives: stupidity

A Rag Bag of Thoughts

The latest issue of Cattails is out and I appear in it twice – page 89 and page 91. However, they aren’t the best bits of the issue and there are 193 pages of good stuff to read. These two mark the point where I was really struggling to write. Things, as I have said, are looking up again now.

One of my neighbours has just been playing fast and lose with the laws of gravity, but has finally succeeded in putting a bird box in his conifer. It’s at least twelve feet off the ground, and much better than my weedy attempts. I usually chicken out when it gets to eight feet. I have bounced a number of times when falling off ladders and don’t see any point in pushing my luck. The strange thing I find is that if I were writing a novel I would have the fall in slow motion with plenty of time for flashbacks and reminiscence but in real life I often only have time to think “Oh . . .” as the ladder moves, then find myself lying on the floor. In fact, once I merely found myself lying on the floor, without the initial “Oh . . .”

I’ve fallen off four times, which is hardly a great sample, but at no time has my life flashed before me. That might be because I was between six and twelve feet up when it happened. If you fall off from fifty feet it is probably different.

Random Poppy Picture

It was also slightly different the time that I fell off due to the wood-wormed rung. I don’t count that among the four falls, which were all due to my carelessness – over-reaching or setting the ladder up on soft ground (correct, I’m not a fast learner).

On the way up, using a ladder from the shed of a gardening customer, I note the woodworm on the way up and thought “I must be careful on the way down”. However, I was so grateful to be on the way down (it was a tricky trimming operation twenty feet up a pear tree) that I forgot to be careful. The rung collapsed, as did the next one, I began to overbalance, I thought of the concrete slabs that were waiting, and I grabbed a branch, ending up swinging like a monkey. It is funny now, and you have permission to laugh.

I did learn from that. I bought a ladder and never used a customer’s ladder again.

The funniest thing i ever did was cut a dead branch on a tree. It was about twenty feet up (it seems an ominous distance when you read this post. I cut it using my pruning saw on a long pole, and my feet were firmly on the ground. The lesson I learned from this was that branches fall faster than you think so you should never stand directly under one you are cutting. I protected my head by fending it off with my forearm. The impact drove flakes of bark into my arm, which took some cleaning up, and ten years later I still have a lump on my arm where it hit.

I think 500 words is enough for now. If anyone is interested I have another selection of disaster stories, some of which feature electricity.

Bear with tools

Day 96

I spoke to someone about Kindles last night. Today I mentioned them in one of my replies to a comment.

This is how it is. I like books. I like sitting in a room with well-filled bookshelves. But I like having several hundred books contained in something the size of one slim book, and I like the ability to increase the font size and have lighting readily available. As my eyes have aged I find the last two points to be of growing importance.

Now, for a moment, place yourself in a forest glade. See the beams of sunlight that penetrate the foliage, smell the damp soil as it sinks beneath your feet, and listen to the birdsong. That is how I see reading a book. With a book you have physical presence, weight, and the smell of dust and mould and paper (yes, I do have a lot of second-hand books). Reading a Kindle is like watching a nature programme on TV. They can show you the sunbeams and record the birdsong, but there is nothing physical beneath your feet, and no scent.

That just got6 me thinking about blue eyes in animals. Specifically, why do very few animals, apart from humans, have blue eyes? How, you ask did I get to this? Simply by thinking that an orangutan on TV is less easy to bond with than one in a zoo where you can see it, hear it, smell it and make eye contact.

Unfortunately I made the mistake of  looking on the internet for an answer, an error further compounded by wandering into Quora. That, for those of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid it, is the digital opposite of the British Library, being a worldwide depository for stupidity.

And with that thought on modernity and the digital age, I will leave you for now.

A  pile of books

Bad Start to the Week

Sorry, I fell asleep in the chair last night so did’t post. Then tonight I decided to shake up my routine by not using the computer until late. I got that wrong – got carried away watching TV and suddenly it’s late and I still have a blog to write and sandwiches to make..

So here I am.

Not much to report.

I injured my foot this morning in a rather foolish pedicure accident. As  a result of the Warfarin it took just over an hour to stop the bleeding. I would normally gloss over this sort of stupidity, but if this is to b a warts and all diary I need to tell the truth. I am irredeemably stupid, don’t have the sense I was born with and can’t be trusted to put my socks on without incident. That;s not me being self-deprecating, that’s a direct quote from the Court of Enquiry hosted by Julia when I had to call for help. She wasn’t amused, and that First Aid Course she did last week appears to have skimped on information about pedicure incidents.

I’ve been watertight for the last 17 hours, so the repair seems to have held. With all the excitement I couldn’t take Julia in to work and had to take my breakfast to the shop. Not the best start to the day for either of us. I should have fitted in a blood test this morning too, but had to miss it. Ironic, as I could have provided plenty, and all without needing a needle.

We have  a severe weather warning with thunder and lightning tomorrow, which is OK for people like me who work indoors. Not quite so good for Julia, who will be out in the gardens with her group. She says she will take a coat. I think they’d be better cancelling the session. You can do without that sort of stuff when you are out in the garden and all the shelter you have is either a steel portacabin or a polytunnel with steel hoops. I keep thinking of lightning conductors . . .


Every Day is Different . . .

There goes an hour of my life. I’ve just written a couple of hundred words but they were going nowhere, and they are now in the bin. I started off with good intentions and it went well for the first 150 words, but it just petered out and after a couple of attempts to close it in a useful and interesting manner I decided that the best way to finish was by way of the delete button.

Instead I will tell you about the most stupid enquiry I have ever had on eBay, and will then progress to the funniest.

One relates to an expensive bullion set, from one of the companies that specialises in such sets. Ours is on eBay at around £2,500. It’s a limited edition with less than 100 sets made. My expectation with this sort of thing is that if you can afford to buy one you are (a) intelligent enough to earn the money to buy one and (b) know what you are doing.

I am, it seems, wrong on both counts. Someone wrote to us and asked how we knew ours was number 45 out of 99, and how he could tell what number his was. If he’d spent a few seconds flicking through the pictures in our listing he’d have discovered the answer. It’s written on the certificate from the manufacturer. It took me less than 30 seconds to find it and I’d never seen the set before.

It’s a stupid enquiry because he should have known that before buying an expensive set. And it’s possibly the stupidest one we’ve had because he was too lazy to look at our listing and find the answer.  All I can say in his defence is that he may not have a certificate with his, but if he’s spent all that money on a set with no certificate, it doesn’t make him look particularly bright. And he then has the gall to take up my time by writing to ask something he could have established for himself by pressing a few buttons. Do I look, I wanted to write, like a public information point?

Two hours later we had the funniest enquiry. A lady rang and asked if we were Collectors World, which we are. We tend to wimp out of using an apostrophe as we aren’t quite sure where it should be.

Anyway, a lady rang, I answered, informed her that we were Collectors World, confirmed that it was Collectors World when asked, and then listened to her question. It seems she has a set of ceramic carol-singing pigs and she has successfully removed and replaced the AA batteries which make the piece revolve, she just can’t seem  to get the smaller batteries out which power the music. Could I tell her how to do it?

I am, I confess, seldom speechless, but for  a moment my mouth moved and nothing came out. Eventually we established that there are other places that trade as Collectors World (which is why our website address is includes the world Nottingham) and that we aren’t the one that sells revolving ceramic pigs which sing Christmas carols.

We parted on good terms despite my inability to help and I really hope she managed to get help from the Collectors World that does.

Even as I search for a title I can hear my Dad talking (he had been in retail in the 1950s after leaving the Navy) – “in retail,” he would say,”every day is different”.




Nothing Much to Report

We packed 19 parcels. We saw several customers. We had coffee and ate the custard creams that a customer left us on Saturday. I spoke to five telephone callers and shattered the dreams of three of them.

Then one of them rang back to confirm that I had quoted the correct price. Had I really said eight pence, or had it been eight pounds? It was pence. We pay eight pence each for two shilling pieces and old style (large) 10p pieces. According to the caller they are between eight and twelve pounds each on the internet.

I promised her that we wouldn’t be offended if she decided to sell them on the internet, and said if she ran out we could replenish her stocks by selling her 40 for £8.95 including postage..

This didn’t seem to be a comfort to her.

The man who rang up for a valuation on his Charles Dickens £2 wasn’t too surprised to hear we sold them for £5.

“I thought it was too good to be true,” he said.

They are available on eBay at a much less reasonable £5,000. Plus 65p postage and packing. There are two at that price, though the other will only cost you 58p for postage.



Postage & Packing?!

That  (?!) is an interrobang, a unit of punctuation I’ve never used before.


Another New Week

Well, it’s another new week and it’s a blank canvas full of possibilities and the potential for cliches.

I rose early, did a word puzzle and then sat and decided what to do. I decided to do more sitting, and did another word puzzle. These aren’t intellectual exercises by any means but at 6.30 my brain isn’t necessarily prepared for heavy lifting.

Breakfast consisted of a pear, a small citrus fruit (I lose track of all the names they use these days) and two turmeric capsules. As a dietary regime it could probably do with some fine-tuning.

My first TV selection was what I refer to as “classic comedy”. That could equally be “very old repeat” as it was a 1982 episode of Minder – the Birdman of Wormwood Scrubs. That’s the episode where they refer to a male Bullfinch, but show a female Chaffinch. After that I lost interest in the assorted rubbish on offer and concentrated on the computer.

Looking through the Q&A section of ebay to increase my knowledge of the system I was struck by the fact that though many of the world’s resources are decreasing the supply of idiots shows little sign of slacking off.  If we could harness stupidity and get it into a fuel tank we wouldn’t need electric cars. I won’t dwell on the subject, as we don’t have the technology for this, and the waste upsets me.

Now, as the clock creeps round to mid-day I realise that a touch of TV, two word puzzles, some light blogging, a quick breakfast, and a bit of ebay, has absorbed five hours of my life.

No wonder I don’t get the washing up done.


Gingerbread and Vitriol

I could start with my normal Saturday opening – “After dropping Julia off at work…” but I’m feeling like doing something a little different today. Same goes for the photos of the Mencap garden yesterday morning. They are OK but I’m just feeling like something more is needed. (As the post developed, not quite in the direction I intended, it became a little negative. It developed naturally, as I wrote, and I decided to let it stand. Not quite sure if it’s too negative or too personal. Let me know if you have any views on the tone.)

And that is why I am showing you pictures of cookie cutters.


Novelty Cookie Cutters

I’m torn here. I love alliteration and I am committed to resisting American English. In the case of cookie cutters I feel as if continents are colliding in my head. I really don’t want to say “Cookie Cutter” but some irresistibly force makes me do it. There is no natural alternative – Biscuit Bodgers just isn’t going to do it. I’ll try Biscuit Cutters and see if that works.

I found the cutters recently whilst decluttering. They had disappeared without being used during one of the chaotic times on the farm. We made a lot of gingerbread with the group and these cutters (with six different designs) seemed a good idea.

The problem was that after the introduction of the Farmer’s Sister into the mix everything went wrong. It started with her telling me “we’re all on the same team” which is a management shorthand way of indicating we weren’t all on the same team. Then it progressed to her shouting at me because she said I thought she was stupid because I had a degree and she didn’t.

All I had done was proof read something I’d been asked to proof read and send her the corrections. It seems that this was wrong – I should have sandwiched the suggested changes between telling her how good she was, how valued she was and how hard-working she was.

There’s a vulgar term for this, but rather than expose my gentle readers to it I’ll post a link to it for those of you who are interested.

The truth is, I don’t have a degree.

I also, at that time, didn’t think she was stupid. I just thought that she had made a mistake that needed correcting. She had used a word wrongly. I can’t recall what it was, but it was something like uninterested/disinterested. It’s no big deal. I have to think hard when using affect/effect. Getting something like that wrong doesn’t make you stupid. If someone had corrected me on it I’d have thanked them and looked it up to learn the lesson fully.

No, what made her stupid, for I did eventually have to admit she was stupid, was her refusal to learn or improve.

We were stupid too – we should have realised that it was time to move.

However, that all belongs to another story, and stupidity was probably the least vile of her personality traits.

After the team comment, and the shouting, she started a turf war, and kept moving out stuff. We had to start moving it back home every time we used it, and eventually, things got lost in the confusion. That’s how the cutters became lost.

Other things disappeared and turned up in bins or dismantled in the workshop. Like over-sized children the Farmer and his sister knew nothing of how they got there. She took down the group’s art work and binned it. She once needed a book for kitchen use, so she took the garden diary book off the shelf, tore our notes out and took the book away.

Sorry, but it just seemed the appropriate time for this to be mentioned, and once I started, I thought I would finish.

Anyway, back to biscuits. I found the cutters. I will make some biscuits.

Here, to provide a happy ending, are some previous biscuits (and some peppermint creams.


If I ruled the World (2)

I’m back, and I’m ready to write a list of major improvements I would make to the world.

One, I would  launch a major research project into the causes of low intelligence, with the object of developing a vaccine against stupidity. This is a watered down version of my true feelings after sitting next to an idiot with a mobile phone and a demon-spawn toddler in the surgery waiting room.

Two, pass a law requiring that computers would allow you to write (2) instead of “Two” without all sorts of unintended paragraphing consequences.

Three, make it law that all doctors required to perform prostate tests were selected for their small hands rather than for their qualifications. Possibly they could be selected from families of concert pianists, who tend to have long thin fingers. I’ve never asked to see their credentials, but have strong views about their fingers. I’m also convinced that the people who take jobs like this aren’t the ones that came top of their class. Not a criticism, just an observation.

Four, I would encourage all current MPs to follow George Osborne‘s example and get a job outside politics. It would be nice to get them all jobs in the hospitality industry and see if they could organise a party in a brewery.

Five, replace health warnings with pictures. Don’t tell me something has a lot of fat in it, that means nothing. Even if it is in red. But show me a picture of a fat man clutching his chest and I might take notice.

I’ll leave it at 5 for tonight because I’m trying to design a kitchen knife that incorporates a sticking plaster dispenser. It’s a gap in the market I spotted whilst preparing vegetables tonight…