Saturday, May 31, 2008

Get Your Tickets for Dogs Dinner 2

I notice from reading other blogs that some of them are nothing more than glorified advertisements, selling all sorts of products and services under the guise of a blog.

Personally, I find this quite outrageous. I mean, let's say, for example, I was organising a charity fundraising ball on 14 November 2008 at the Holiday Inn, Seaton Burn, there's no way I'd use my blog as a cheap way of advertising this fantastic event. Even if it is for Guide Dogs, and even if it does promise to be a brilliant night out, with a 3-course dinner, live band and disco until 1am. I just wouldn't stoop so low. Other, less worthy sites will even blatantly try to sell their wares by saying things like "Tickets are £35, tables seat 8 and you can get your tickets by emailing" I don't know how they have the front.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Are You Talking To Me?

If someone approaches you and says “hello” then my guess is, like me, you instinctively say “hello” back to them, even if you don’t know them. “And what’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. Well, nothing, except that the increased use of mobile phones means that I now regularly say “hello” to people who, quite sensibly, have no intention of speaking to me at all. Maybe in the ‘80s, when mobiles were the size of house bricks, I might have stood a chance. Now, someone walks past me with a friendly “Hi mate” and, so as not to be rude, I quickly reply “Hi”, by which time they’ve walked past and I hear them continue their conversation, which probably goes something like, “Hang on, mate, some nutter is trying to talk to me.” Rather like when you trip on a loose paving stone and do a little jog, as if it’s going to hide the fact, I find myself needing to do the same thing, creating a little song like – “”.

Another thing I’ve noticed more recently that can catch me out if I’m not careful are those little notices that shops put outside – I think they’re called ‘A-boards’ – presumably the A stands for accident. Worse, a new supermarket on my local High Street, put out huge great signs. They’re certainly more visible than the usual ones, but they take a bit of getting around. I wonder why they don’t go the whole hog and just build a brick wall across the pavement, with a big arrow painted on it directing people into the shop.

While I’m being a grumpy old git, there’s one more thing I noticed the other day that is a potential disaster zone. I was happily walking through the main pedestrian street in my local city centre, when I realised the way was almost entirely blocked by one of these pavement cafes that seem to be springing up everywhere. God knows why people want to sit out in near arctic conditions – mainly smokers I guess – but they are at serious risk of ending up being splatted with latte or finding their cappuccino in their lappuccino. If I’m not concentrating, I could just plough into one of these cafes and really run a mocha.

I just hope that next time I go that way, I don’t inadvertently head into it having tripped on an A-board when I was distracted by someone on a mobile saying hello to me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"I am the muffin man, and I come fromround your way"

From my experience, there are two main risks for the visually-impaired shopper – risks that can turn retail therapy into retail trauma. I have to preface this by admitting that, in common with many blokes, it’s not exactly my favourite pastime in any case. Being lured into a trip into town normally requires a large carrot, or more precisely, piece of carrot cake and large cappuccino. Once you can’t see what it is you’re trying to buy, the coffee shop becomes even more important.

Supermarkets are particularly dangerous places. The sheer size of them and range of goods on offer makes it just about impossible to find what I need quickly and without a fuss. I’m now resigned to the fact that I need to ask for assistance which, although invaluable, is by no means free of danger. Usually, I am assigned some poor shop assistant who spends most of their waking time sat at the tills. So the opportunity to help me around the shop is not one to be wasted. “Are you sure that’s all you need?” “Yes, thanks.” “Do you not need any milk?” “No.” “What about bread, do you need bread?” “No.” and so on. That’s after I’ve done their induction training for them, explaining the general direction of where things are in the store. That’s after I’ve explained why I want guacamole and chillis. That’s after I’ve explained what guacamole is. That’s after I’ve explained what I can or cannot see. That’s after I’ve explained where the dog has gone. That’s after I’ve explained that no, I don’t need a trolley and that a basket will do. That’s after I’ve explained why I’ve not been in for a while. That’s all before I decide that I won’t be in again for a while.

Experiences like this make internet shopping an attractive option, but this too can be problematic. I remember the time when I earned the name “Muffin Man” after a slip of the finger on my supermarket order went un-noticed. Having thought I had ordered two packets of 4 chocolate chip muffins (in place of the coffee shop stop, you see) it was with some disbelief that I set about unpacking the 22 packets I had ordered. It was at this point that a new local event was created. The Great North Bun-Run involved sending the kids running to friends and neighbours with offerings of muffins. Next door even got theirs posted through the letterbox. Funnily enough, I’ve not ordered any since.