Wednesday, 20 July 2011

How often should you....?

Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 initiated a deluge of e-mails and messages recently when someone mentioned that she only changes her family’s bedding once in two weeks.  Thence began the great debate – how often should you change your sheets?  There were all sorts of theories and opinions and lots of shock/horror at people whose regime was considered insanitary by others.  One interviewee, said she was really annoyed when a fastidious friend (who showers night and morning) arrived in her kitchen after her one-night visit, bearing her sheets for the wash. (The hostess had planned to make them last one more time). I suddenly remembered when I was teaching a biology practical class – about 35 years ago – and being awed by our lab assistant, who confided during tea-break that she washes her family’s towels every day. I thought everyone did them once a week?  But then again, that was in the time of Jackie Kennedy. It’s funny what things stick in your mind.  I wish more important things had the same effect. It just goes to show how deeply our mother’s brainwashed us concerning rules on the home front  By the way, I couldn't hang my sheets like this: they would have to be stretched out straight. Do Americans hang out the sheets?  From watching too many sitcoms, we think that you all eat pizza and send everything to the laundry.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shouldn't we let it go?

 A Jewish friend has told me of his ambition to visit Auschwitz at the end of October with the Zenpeacemakers (see link).  Apparently, this annual event draws people of all religions who have many different reasons for wanting to 'bear witness' or expiate demons of their own by visiting this austere and tragic venue where they will sit beside the railway line for 5 days,  in silence in the cold, or meditating the Zen way, chanting names of those who were sent to the gas chambers.  Strange things happen to those who lose themselves in this way. Some have had visions of the departed and imagine themselves as one particular person: they see themselves arriving on the train.  One person, disturbingly for him, saw himself as a guard - shooting at some poor victim.  Although I can understand what might motivate anyone to make this pilgrimage, shouldn't we let it go and concentrate on present ills?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fun at a Garage

I was at a garage with my daughter in her car, grandchildren in the back and we were waiting for the credit card to be processed. Up came a smiling young man, smartly dressed in black and white striped shirt, black pants: at first he intrigued us by simply saying that he felt we should be on the cover of You Magazine (local rag) as we depicted such a happy picture.  Laughing, we asked what he was selling but we first had to listen to his sales pitch, which was to ask us whether we were day or night people, and he either case he had just the thing for us both.  This turned out to be a 'leather' wallet with different eye shadow palettes, not for sale yet in South Africa, but we could find the product in shops from next year. Unfortunately, he asked us to guess the price: I am totally the wrong person to try to sell cosmetics to - I just take the cheapest off the shelf at the supermarket, usually No Name. So I said I thought 40 dollars (R300) would be about the right price. His face was a picture - he briefly lost his composure, then recovered himself enough to tell us that the retail price would be 255 dollars but we would be able to obtain a special half-price offer through him. I'm afraid we fell about laughing - enough to cause him to give up his quest and return good-naturedly to his station in front of the doors of the garage Quickshop. Before he was out of earshot, I shouted after him that he was wasted in his current career and should be on the stage.  He had spent 15 minutes on us with undiminished efforts despite our reactions. I wanted to tell him that people who drive expensive-looking cars, don't spend money on things like make-up.  I don't think he'd believe me though.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Over the Top?

I've been watching an old episode of Oprah from the final season, (it's about six months before we get them here in SA), and one of her producers said that her best moment was meeting Colin Firth, her idol. She had seen Pride and Prejudice 150 times and was over the moon when he autographed her copy of 'the Book'. I don't know why I was surprised when she held up the box of DVDs to show us and not an actual book.  However, this gives me the courage to admit that I am thinking of going to "Bridesmaids" for the 3rd time in two weeks:  you see, I still have one friend who hasn't seen it and I want to watch her reactions.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Early Sunday Morning

8.30 on Sunday morning and the phone rings - we are luxuriating in bed after a very late night baby-sitting at my daughter's house after which we drove home. It sounds like my friend, L, so "Good morning, L !"  say I in the same cheery voice.  Silence.  No, it's Thembi, from a marketing company.  She wants "two minutes of your time" to answer a questionnaire about foodstuffs.  ? On a Sunday morning ??  I am momentarily lost for words which has allowed her the time to launch into her speech.  When I get a gap to interrupt (she sounds so nice), I politely tell her that the last time I fell for this line of talk,  I was kept on the phone for half and hour and I had a cake in the oven!  Never again, I said, because at the end of the interminable questions there is always a sales pitch for something. And on a Sunday?  Doesn't she know that this is the only day most human beings on the planet have in the week in which to try to make love to their partner  - before the phone rings!  (To my regret, I did not actually say this last bit, though I would have loved to!) But it would have been a lie at the moment as for the last two weeks, since my husband put his back out, we have spent this precious time doing pilates both for his back and my hip and knee.  You just have to keep your sense of the humour as you age. 

Thursday, 7 July 2011


I am getting a little tired of salesmen who appear to enthusiastically want one's business - and then never arrive with the actual quote.  We have been trying to get someone to change our old wooden front door over to a glass one, with a sand-blasted design.  We've made two attempts so far: at first I asked the people who put in our aluminium windows - I heard nothing for three weeks, then on following up, I found out that the guy who had to quote them for the sand-blasting had been ill. No-one thought to let me know.  So I googled another company near to where we live:  the young salesman arrived promptly and professionally with photos of jobs done and an impressive book of designs to choose from.  Since then, I have waited... and waited -  either for the e-mailed quote or for him to phone me.  Eventually, I phoned his office to complain and he arrived post haste, full of excuses and cross with people who 'had not passed on messages'. Now I wait again: having phoned his office today (four days after the appointed time)  I know he is not ill, he is out 'on the road' and will phone me immediately he gets back. I'm still waiting.  When I asked for someone to quote I was specific: they knew it was a small job, but yes they were interested.  I surmise that bigger jobs have taken preference.  Why don't they just say?  It's the lack of communication that frustrates so much.  Therefore, on principal, as it is now after work hours and I have not been contacted - the deal is off.  I'll try elsewhere.  In these difficult economic times, why is it that people are so casual about their possible customers?  After all, I could have given them a good reference for a job well done. Stuff it.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Bridesmaids - The Movie

What are movie producers thinking of to send out such an awful trailer for this film? My friends are I made a note to avoid it like the plague - until our favourite reviewer gave it the thumbs up.  We went reluctantly to see it and - surprise!  What a delightful, sensitive, brilliantly witty, even delicate expose of the intricacies of female friendships.  There are moments of comedy that are simply inspired, and we can all envy Kristen Wiig's gorgeous legs - which are shown to advantage in every shot.  I really recommend this lovely, original film, although at two hours it is a bit long.  Can't think which bits I would cut though: everything was relevant - even the awful scene in the bridal shop is not so bad when seen in context. Give the movie a go!