Friday, 11 January 2013

All Mod Cons?

That filthy phrase ‘quality time’ (concentrated anxiety) seems to have fallen out of fashion of late. Hooray! But before I can jump for joy, I’m reminded that it has been replaced by something altogether more sinister: ‘work-life balance’.

We balance out everything – offset tit for tat, outsource the good bits, store chunks of our lives in the cloud and rob Peter to Paypal Paul. In this market of ‘continuous improvement’ we enter a frantic state of perpetual barter – haggling with ourselves for the tiniest off-cuts of pleasure. Scraps which we are far too exhausted and, let’s face it, guilty - to ever enjoy.

In the good old days, which of course I am far too young to remember, life was fuller and the days were longer. Washing took place on a Monday, baths on a Sunday, people left their front doors unlocked and nobody ever dropped their mobile down the loo whilst multi-tasking with a mop and a screwdriver. Trans fats and cholesterol were the stuff of sci-fi. Cigarettes had health benefits. The hills were greener and the winters shorter. Some idiot had yet to dream up Milton Keynes. It was all very Heartbeat and even the criminals had manners. If anything we probably had a few too many polar bears and great herds of snow leopards cluttered up the slopes.

I’m not suggesting we all have loos installed in the garden shed, rip out our central heating and start sending our toddlers up chimneys, but this 24/7 go-go-go nonsense is leaving us spent-spent-spent. The ‘work-life balance’ is weighing us down. Yet we kid ourselves that if only our trains were faster, our mobiles smarter and our broadband more infinite, we’d all be much calmer and more in control. We’d simply have time to enjoy all the things we really wanted to do. We’d have time to relax. Ah bliss!

One day, when this quest for constant information is considered as impractical as grape scissors, our grandchildren’s great-grandchildren will pity us. Like the stench of the Victorian slums, they’ll wonder how we could have stomached it. The humble office worker will become the pit pony of our descendant’s history books.

Those poor little mites in their grey, windowless world! They were penned in under artificial light with their eyes fixed on blinking VDU’s and their blunted fingers tapping bacteria-riddled keys. By then, most of the chickens were free range, but the people were still battery.

Then a picture – like the diagram showing the evolution of man from his ape beginnings – depicting Homo erectus reverting to a creature with a back so bent by hours of sitting that he is unable to stand for more than a few minutes a day – Homo collapsus.

Is this how we want to be remembered?

Let’s just hope we don’t completely lose our balance.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Friday March 4th – Holiday!

Bliss beyond utter bliss. My first day off since the big-return-to work game started again full-time at the beginning of the year. I’ve made three whole months!
On the cloudy side, I am at least a stone heavier and am shedding clumps of hair daily. In fact, if I was daft enough to linger by the mirror, I would be faced with a very pasty, rather patchy, great, big, porky tarantula. Oh well, I suppose we all feel a bit straggly at the end of a dreary winter.
The silver lining is that I have a whole day to play and be stupidly happy!
Having said that, today there is simply not a cloud in the sky as far as I am concerned. I do wonder, though, if the really horrendous, thunder- roaring monsters have platinum tummies? I mean fair’s fair.

We had lots of fun here at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.
Perhaps The Little Perfect One is a bit young for Roald Dahl or, in fact, for any book of more than about a hundred words.  I am now usually allowed to read through three whole pages of the Gruffalo, before the book is suddenly transformed by TLPO into a hat, a frisbee or a boat.
On this quiet, wintery afternoon, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and for TLPO the museum offered at least two marvellous medicines: space and giant plastic seaweed (I have no idea what it is actually called) in the doorways.
The only issue is that the entrance to one of the rooms is flagged by two 6ft6in slabs of chocolate. This seems to have caused TLPO some confusion. He is now adamant that in one of his favourite books, ‘Colours’, the brown page is adorned with some eggs, a puppy, an owl and a chunky milk chocolate ‘door’!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Thursday March 3rd – I made it!

Elation! Elation! Elation! That’s the big fluffy buzz keeping me warm this evening.
It’s so intoxicating and deliciously sweet that a mad voice in my head hisses ‘You should do more hideous journeys if this is the trade off, baby!’
Vroom! Vroom!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wednesday March 2nd – Road trip...well, it takes all Sorts!

I am just dreading the bad journey tomorrow. I am sure it was very clever of some bod to invent the car, but it wasn’t terribly thoughtful. Oh God how I hate driving. It’s an absolute mystery to me that anyone could actually do it for fun.
Still, I suppose some people actually enjoy window shopping. That is something I will never understand.
How does it even happen?
‘Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s spend an hour in traffic to wander around the town gawping and pointing at things we’d like to buy, but either can’t or won’t. What do you think?’
I have to assume at this point that any rational person would say:
‘No, that’s a completely rubbish idea and as your sanity has gone AWOL we are going to lock you in the shed until we can decide what to do with you.’
 I’ve wrestled with this for years and I think that there can be only three reasons why an individual of relatively sane mind would consent to this lunacy.
1.      They are just being nice to, are madly in love with or desperately need to impress the requestor.
2.      They just view it all as a big commercial Museum of modern nonsense, which is really quite pretty in places.
3.      They are big, fat liars and what they are actually agreeing to is to pretend that they are not going to buy anything, but will inevitably return with a finger-numbing collection of bags.
Yet, I have been a huge opponent of this inane activity for quite a while and I’ve studied enough of the users to discover that a lot of them really do just love it. This group have become known as the ‘One line short of a readable barcode’ brigade. Shockingly, our streets are littered with them.
Going somewhere to look at things you want but can’t have? It would be like wine-tasting when you were pregnant or worse still when you’d stupidly agreed to drive.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Tuesday March 1st – Genuine Customer Service – How Nice!

Not only did they send a man to retrieve the orchard windfalls, but they refunded me for 81 and refused to charge me for the eight I actually wanted.
They tried to explain that it would just be too complicated to sort it out. Well, at least that’s what I think he said. It was difficult to separate the words from the giggles.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Monday February 28th – More Speed, Less Apples.

Oh Tree! What a wonderful weekend. It’s that mixed up Monday feeling, as the warmth from the afterglow fades and the beautiful flashbacks steadily give way to an inbox full of issues. I am missing the boys terribly today. Bernard and I are muddling along together, but we are both wishing the tall one and the one with new shoes were here to muddle with us.
Still, as much as I have enjoyed myself over the last couple of days, I wasn’t necessarily that switched on. I did the online food shop yesterday and it arrived this afternoon all present and correct.
Well, except for the fact that I had been a bit trigger happy with the quantities...
I thought I'd ordered eight apples, but 81 Pink Ladies have turned up.
Mmm... Oh well! Fruity times ahead!
The really annoying thing is that I didn’t even notice until the driver had gone. I was in a mad rush to get the fridge and freezer bits away before charging back to my desk, but seriously how could you not see that many apples?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Sunday February 27th – My Big Fat Confession.

It’s official...

I have failed to get with the programme, I have misplaced the plot and I have eaten all the sandwiches. My picnic is not short of one small element; it has no fruit, cakes, wine or sunny afternoons. It’s like setting down your basket on the cold muddy bank and then oops! My old friend Mr ‘You Haven’t Thought This One Through, At All Have You Madam?’ Blunders in looking for a bit of quiche.

Well, it’s not the disaster of the century, but it’s one that could have so easily been avoided.

You see, according to my second chance New Year’s resolutions, February was supposed to flow like a cathartic river across the page. It didn’t. It didn’t even trickle. It cracked, in the way that only frozen water can.

Well now I do have a confession for February and that is... that without exception there is not a single day of the last 27 that was actually written in February. A couple were penned in March and a lot more a whole lot later than that...

I know that I made some notes in February, but I just didn’t manage to mould them into concrete sentences. The thing is that this second month thing was actually a bit of a wash out. It started off ok, full of New Year bubbles and energy, but it quickly descended into an icy sludge of tissues and gloom.


Well maybe, but the really stupid thing is how it all began. There are hundreds of ‘how to blog’ sites, posts, books and articles out there and I haven’t read any of them, as in my picnic- empty head - that would be cheating.

However, what I am pretty sure that they don’t say is this:

Be sure to know nothing about anything and then start taking daily pictures weeks and weeks before you start writing the posts to sit beneath them. That way you’ll be behind from the start and you can just stay that way until you eventually give up.

The thing is my draft posts are a bit moth eaten; there are huge holes, but some were actually written when they should have been.

Today is today, well it started off that way and now it’s an entirely different much warmer today. But last Wednesday’s might not get written until a week on Friday. That’s just how it’s been, well, not working.

No, it’s not a winning formula and neither are the strings of motivational mantras that have been stumbling from my lips. I sound like some dribbling fool who has been locked away and tortured by sportswear advertisers.

But what if you just can’t do it?

I don’t care it can’t isn’t a word. What kind of tripe is that anyway? It reminds me of something a dodgy supplier teacher would say.

Anyway, the point is that sometimes ‘kick on’ just isn’t going to be enough.

I am going to have to face it. I am going to have to make a pact with the dreaded Monster known only as Compromise.

Yes, me and the Dream-Crusher have made a deal.

If this is ever going to function as a blog then it needs an injection of reality. Of cold hard practical can-be-dones. Daily isn’t going to happen... well for the Tree it can, but not for me, if that makes sense.

So there’ll be a lot of the lovely Tree and some of me here and there...