It’s funny how often you think you have worked through a thing but unbeknown to you it is only buried deep down. When we were in Jo’burg, having a meal with friends recently, the conversation turned to the subject of boss/employee relationships and I thought I would make a point concerning my last full-time job five years ago. I had scarcely opened my mouth to form the first sentence when my eyes teared up and I could not go on. I had actually the greatest respect and admiration for my last boss. She was totally dedicated to her job, often working through the night and making herself ill, but still soldiering on and I always felt that I just couldn’t come up to her expectations. She was inclined to be mercurial and I was a nervous wreck most days, either because, according to her, I had either exceeded my authority or conversely, not taken enough initiative in solving a problem. In the end, I had to leave as I couldn’t even sleep at night: to my amazement, she didn’t want to sign my resignation letter. It lay on her desk for two weeks. I still can’t work it out. Amazingly, two months later I received a phone call from her asking me to undertake another job in her department, working closely with her. My stomach contracted with fear but I was too cowardly to say no on the spot so I said I would think about it. The next day I phoned back and with fingers crossed said that my husband didn’t want me to work.
Friday, 18 March 2011
Well, we have a new baby in the family and all were concerned about her reception by her almost 3-yr-old brother, as he is very close to his mommy and has indeed been the centre of her world. A mutual admiration society. And now a demanding intruder. As sweet and quiet as she is, she does of necessity have to dominate his mother's time and when he was told that she was 'very hungry' and could not be immediately removed from his mother's breast, he first went downstairs and came back with a large cucumber which he attempted to push into her mouth and when told that she was unable to eat that, her brother went downstairs again and came back with two frozen hamburgers for her.
Perhaps this augurs well.
(This is actually her at 20 minutes old and four hours later.)
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
A bit of a strong term really, but that was just to get your attention. The new 18-year-old appie my husband took on last month is doing really well. He loves to work with his hands (which were found to be suitably rough and calloused at his interview) and there is nothing he loves more than being allowed to work on a big truck. Being the new kid on the block though means that he is subjected to some gentle time-honoured teasing by the older mechanics. He gets sent on errands known as “a long wait” – meaning that he will be left waiting for ages to get something from the Parts Department counter, while others rapidly come and go, whatever their request. Being patient and well-mannered, this boy made no complaint and so the tease was stepped up a bit – he was sent to ask for “a box of sparks”. Reasonably, he thought this was something to do with spark plugs, but when he was handed a patently empty box, he finally challenged the mission and was told that the sparks in question are the ones that fly off the angle grinder when it is in use. (Wink, wink, grin!) He finally twigged but took it all in good spirit. And so the other staff like him. It is just sad that the apprentice in question is a white boy. The older guys can’t carry on the tradition with the coloured or black apprentices – it would be construed as racism.
Monday, 14 March 2011
This is an old chestnut with a new twist. We've been watching an old BBC TV series from the late 70s viz "The Fall and Rise of Reggie Perrin" - 5 DVDs with 7 episodes of a sitcom on each! We are hugely enjoying the British humour. For instance, Reggie opts out of the corporate world, goes off the rails for a bit, then goes back and opens a shop which sells all kinds of rubbish, advertised in the window as "All items completely useless!" Within two years he has become a tycoon with more than 50 "Grotshops" in the UK and also a line in "Eurogrot". His range includes things like cruets with no holes, square hoops for children, ashtrays with no bottoms, excruciatingly bad art done by the local dentist etc etc. All very absurd, I thought, until I looked at our Sunday paper! Someone has 'written' a book entitled "What men Think....." (see post title) - but it consists of 200 - wait for it - blank pages! And apparently, it has sold out on Amazon!!!! Well I never (as my mother would have said), there's one born every minute. But on reflection, what a wonderful joke gift to give to certain people. I can actually see why it's sold out. Very clever. I don't, however, believe that men are like this (after a certain age). My husband failed to find his prepared lunch in the fridge the other day and in exasperation, I told him he couldn't find a whore in a whorehouse! Luckily, he saw the funny side of this - but got the last word. "I wouldn't have to," said he, "they bring the whores to you."
Sunday, 13 March 2011
We were watching one of our favourite shows “Judge John Deed” the other day when my husband asked me if the bench and legal counsel in England still really wear wigs? Of course, said I, having enjoyed a visit to the Old Bailey last September: England being as deeply entrenched in tradition as it is, that will never change. Hah! How wrong could I be? A small article in yesterday’s Cape Times by John Scott caught my eye: The Lord Chief Justice of the UK has decided that after 300 years of the same look, the bench needed a new image. A funky designer, Betty Jackson, was engaged and the result is that the horse hair wigs have been jettisoned and the bench now wears a simple black gown with a broad stripe of either gold, purple or green (is it?). With typical British humour, commentators have observed that the bench now looks like something out of Star Trek. I suppose we must bow to progress. Thank goodness with all the interminable repeats on TV, the traditionalists will hopefully be able to enjoy ‘the old look’ for a long time to come. I highly recommend “Kavanagh QC” as well.
Thursday, 10 March 2011
I suffer in every gym class when the teacher announces five times a lesson –“Let’s LAY on our backs...” Grrrrr! While I have the world’s sympathy for foreigners trying to understand the complexities of English grammar, if you are English born and bred you should learn the difference between the verbs: “to lie down” and “to lay SOMETHING down”, if only because those who have been taught correctly will think you ‘common’ if you don’t. The first does not take a direct object and should be used thus, “ I am going to lie down now” or Past Tense, “I lay down for a while yesterday”. The confusion of course, is because the past participle for this verb “lay” is the same as the Present Tense of the other verb which must have an OBJECT. The easiest two examples to remember are that you “lay an egg” or “lay the table to eat”. Egg and table are objects of the verb – something IS DONE to them. Confusion is multiplied in South Africa where, because of the Afrikaans influence, people “set on” or “set off” tables. Then there are old-fashioned verses which we might have learnt as children viz. “Now I lay me down to sleep….”. This is actually correct as “me” is the object of the verb in this sentence. In modern English, the word should, strictly speaking be “myself”. I rather like the rest of this verse, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take,” which I found alternately comforting or scary when I was small. But I digress. While I accept that all language is in a state of flux or we would still be talking as they did in the Middle Ages or, God forbid, in Anglo-Saxon times, must we not fight at all against the dropping of standards? Don’t get me started on the Apostrophe! Just read “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss. It’s the most entertaining grammar book ever written – all about the apostrophe, and it was a best-seller!
Here endeth the lesson. Sorry to be a bore. I am probably preaching to the converted. NB Pic of is me and a friend - two nutty ex-English teachers!
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Someone was speaking about this the other day so I looked it up. Apparently, there is some theory about food (couldn’t quite follow the argument) that says you should eat certain things according to your blood group. The interesting part is that you are likely to be naturally drawn to those food groups. There is a chart: my husband – group O – lots of meat for him, as for me – group A+ - I am supposed to be vegetarian and no dairy! Obviously, another crackpot theory, I’m not giving up my pork chop with crispy fat or my chocolate éclairs for anyone! On reflection though, I do love my veggies and am not normally that bothered about meat and my pork chops and chocolate éclairs are severely rationed. Husband, of course, loves his meat. No problem there. He is supposed to eat spinach and broccoli though – he hats spinach! If you scroll to the end however, there are the usual cop-out, back-covering options “You can have these foods SOMETIMES”. So what’s new? At the very bottom of the page, I followed the link to Oprah’s Dr.Oz’s tips on how to lose weight successfully. Just cut out 100 calories a day. Makes the most sense to me. Or - I could squeeze myself into a corset. Our local paper bore a photo of a very Victorian-looking lady, alive and well and living in Johannesburg, with her waist cinched into a tiny corset! She makes and sells such items and is doing a roaring trade, especially with the more voluptuous ladies. She says the trick is to lace it a little tighter each day. The greatest benefit though is that it totally annihilates your desire for a hamburger.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
The thing about recognising that you are at a stage in your life where things are good and you feel happy about pretty much everything (there are always some problems), is that you start to worry that the good things will be taken away from you. When your partner of many years and with whom you have shared the best moments of your life is your reason for living but you are both beginning to show signs of physical decrepitude (that’s a bit strong, but sometimes that’s what it feels like) you worry that either you or he will fall victim to a terrible disease, car accident, retrenchment disaster etc. Then there is your ever-extending family which now includes children-in-law and grandchildren. You worry about them. Then there are the global issues which I choose not to blog about but which I don’t ignore. Those poor people in the Arab countries. The world is small these days, one’s nearest and dearest could be anywhere when these things happen. Worrying doesn’t help. Action is what counts in whatever shape or form. The happiest people seem to be those who don’t allow themselves to introspect too much. They just get on with life doing what needs to be done. And so I strive to be one of them. I will simply remember to give to charity, relish the good stuff as it occurs in my life and hope for the strength to cope with the bad.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
Having successfully introduced my small grandson to classical music while he travels in my car, I thought I would try a bit of opera. I randomly chose Teresa Berganza singing from The Barber of Seville. As she belted out one of her arias, my 3-year-old grandson put his hands over his ears, looked genuinely frightened and asked: "Why is the lady screaming, grannie?" I guess I have had similar reactions myself when my ears were suddenly assaulted by various singers of pop music. It's clearly a question of taste. Still, I believe I can still train him to like what I like. Maybe when he's a bit older.