The invasion of the 3ft white men!

February 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm (General chat, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

AS the song rightly says, ‘since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’. There is nothing nicer than waking up confronted by a blanket of pure snow. Problem is, such joy soon turns to misery when you remember, it’s Monday morning and you do have places to be; namely work!

However, getting to work is not simple when the skies are white! Ultimately, London’s transport network, you know the one responsible for carrying thousands of people around the city, is completely destroyed by the pretty little snow flakes. When faced with cancelled buses, severely delayed trains and a suspended tube system it becomes near impossible for stranded commuters to get to the office.

Of course, there is always the option of walking. Not as straightforward as it sounds. Firstly and most obviously, London is no small place. It’s cold and wet and a million disgusting things are lying in wait of your foot under the deceiving cotton wool like substance. If you’re lucky enough to live close to work then by all means a short walk, although still treacherous, is unlikely to kill you, unless of course you come into contact with a swerving black cab who’s driver is convince he is driving the bat-mobile.  

For those of us who’s habitats are a little further afield, such an option is unfeasible. An hour walk in arctic conditions on a continuous ice-rink is hard enough. Concentrating on not falling on your derriere whilst trying to dodge mud ridden balls charmingly thrown from young fingers that have been given the day off to terrorise the adult population, is a definite no no.

So, let’s have a snow day! A good idea in theory and the only option for many, however, when you are stranded in your house with no way of going anywhere, the novelty soon wears off. There are only so many snowmen you can make from a balcony full of snow before you run out of building material or your fingers fall off.

Apparently, the incoming snow has been expected for a while, yet London was still not prepared. How can a capital city in a 1st world capitalist country get it so wrong? Such an error is a blow for businesses everywhere and a hindrance to workers, especially those not credited with absence pay.

The only saviour in all this is the local around the corner. If all else fails, go to the pub. Not only is it a good place to while away a few hours but if the blizzard continues what better place is there to get snowed in? It’s warm, full of alcohol, food and plasma screen televisions. So until the storm passes, bottoms up.  

Sarah Butt ©

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Stubbing it out!

January 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm (General chat) (, , , , , , )

THE NEW YEAR is upon us and after a dangerous concoction of spirits and tequila shots that you most definitely did not order, you may find yourself committed to a New Year resolution that does not seem as appealing now that the blood alcohol levels have dropped. Maybe its your faithful cigarettes that will be your victim.

Wanting desperately to back out, you feel obliged to go through with it to avoid being ridiculed by family and friends who have made bets on your failure, oh and for the promises of better health of course. However, still 99% of your being wishes the words ‘I will give up smoking’ had never been uttered from your lips. With your nails bitten, your fingers vibrating and your mind fixated on your severe lack of nicotine, you realise that there were certain steps that should have been taken to avoid such a horrific situation.

Firstly, it is beneficial not to get drunk surrounded by triathlon participating friends who are anti-smoking! Such friends are able to turn something as wonderful, elegant, tasty and reliving as a cigarette into a monster serial killer. Outnumbered and under attack you have no choice but to back down and commit the ultimate betrayal; agreeing to give up. But that is not where this ends, in such company, those people pleasers amongst you may accidentally further agree to take part in your first ever triathlon forgetting the minor issue that exercise has been an alien concept since you left 6th form. 

The second mistake which should be avoided at all costs is admitting that you remember the deal you made. Claiming absolute memory loss is the definite way forward. Admitting you remember your utterance is practically admitting rational thinking and signing your name on the dotted line.

Ok, so at this point, only 5 people witnessed your deal, the chance to back out is still firmly on the horizon. However, the third mistake to avoid is telling mummy dearest, once she knows the domino effect begins and soon everyone is aware of your plans and congratulating you on regaining your senses. Suddenly you find out that your nearest and dearest believed you to have lost competency for the past 4 years. You feel like shouting ‘what’s wrong with cigarettes, they are fabulous’ but a love of your freedom and not wanting to be sectioned prevents this outburst.

Now once you have committed yourself, signed your death warrant and slipped your neck into the noose, the fourth mistake is to avoid the attitude of ‘well I’m giving up soon so until then I will smoke as much as I like’. Jumping from 10 to 20 a day in your last months as a condemned man is not useful when trying to give up. When there is more nicotine in your blood than white blood cells or alcohol for that matter, it comes as a kick in the teeth, head, knees and stomach when that is taken away. Your whole bodily function is messed up and your daily routine seems bare.

The fifth mistake is not mentally preparing for the send off.  It may be October but believe you me, New Year will creep upon you. As Big Ben chimes and people sing, the funeral begins. Walking slowly, one step in front of the other, your remaining 5 cigarettes are buried in the bin and sadness and emptiness becomes you. How could you be so disloyal, how did you not manage those final 5 before midnight despite chain-smoking for the past 24 hours? How will you live without them?

The final mistake made by many is staying in the country! When tricked and bullied into such a painful resolution, pack a suitcase and move to France; smoke to your heart’s content in a country where non-smokers are the senseless ones. With a glass of red wine in one hand and a Superking in the other, inform your family (over the phone of course) of your victory over the tobacco army in the safe knowledge that they will never need know your smoky little secret. Hey presto, everyone is happy.

Yes you guessed it, I am one of those recent non-smokers and I am not taking it well. Ultimately, I loved smoking, when walking, with coffee, after dinner, with evening drinks, it was the first thing I thought of in the morning and last thing I thought of before bed. This was a love affair that was unstoppable by anything less than the power of the New Year resolution. So to all my fellow comrades who have stubbed out their last cigarette, let us pray that the pain passes quickly, that our loss is not too great and that a future without cigarettes is really as beneficial as those non-smokers suggest.  Amen.

Sarah Butt ©

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Trains cannot travel through puddles!

December 15, 2008 at 10:59 pm (General chat) (, , , , , )

WAKING up with a hangover wishing you hadn’t thought 4am was a good time to leave central London is painful enough. Waking up in this state and knowing you have to get on a train is heart breaking. However, when on this morning the journey that should take 2 hours takes 6 because trains in England do not have flotation devices; now that really hurts.

Imagine this, its 8am Saturday morning and Newton Faulkner rudely awakes your three hour slumber by singing out of your phone. After hitting snooze a record 5 times you reluctantly drag yourself out of your warm bed and go about preparing for your journey to Devon. After 30 minutes in a taxi and lightening your wallet by £20 you are confronted by herds of people looking very un-satisfied. Looking up at the departure board you soon realise why:

11.00 – Plymouth – Cancelled

11.30 – Exeter St David’s – Cancelled

12.00 – Penzance – Cancelled

Etc

Every train heading towards the South-West of England is cancelled. So your head banging and your stomach churning over that third bottle of wine you should not have drank, you join a queue longer than the wall of China at customer services. You wait for 40 minutes to see a man who’s only answer to your query is to wait a few hours or travel for 25mins to Waterloo and get a train which you could probably beat walking. Great!! So having departed with another £6 for a travel card, pushed your way onto a packed tube, finally embarked on a delayed train, made two unnecessary changes and not even had a seat to park your tired and toxin ridden body on whilst all the time concentrating on not letting your head explode, you arrive at your destination 6 hours later than planned. A fabulous way to spend a Saturday I’m sure you’ll agree.

The reason for this inconvenience? Water on the tracks! Apparently England cannot run an effective train service when the drizzle turns to real rain drops. Those large sodden drops of liquid that keep the world ticking over were the culprits keeping Londoners prisoner in the capital this weekend. England’s answer to this issue, send the drivers home and point wannabe passengers towards Waterloo to get the two existing morning trains travelling south. I’ll let you in on a secret Mr ‘your best bet is to go to Waterloo’, one thousand people cannot fit on two trains!

Of course it is understandable that when lakes engulf train tracks, Thomas, Henry and friends cannot travel. However, it baffles me that in a country where the umbrella is its trade mark there are not more measures in place to prevent such occurrences.

What’s worse, it appears that its not only the rain that our vulnerable trains cannot cope with. It seems that come rain or shine Englands railways experience delays and cancellations. The wind in the Autumn causes leaves to block the tracks, the sun causes the railway lines to expand and the snow…well that’s just a no go.

It does make you wonder if countries who experience extreme climates have the same problems. Do trains run in California during their heat wave months? And if so are the tracks made out of a different material? Do the Canadians become house bound in the Winter? The mind boggles.

On the bright side, the train companies were understanding and refunds were given. Just remember travellers, next time it rains, book a ferry!

 

Sarah Butt ©

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First class annoyance!

December 4, 2008 at 9:24 pm (General chat) (, , , , )

tube3EVERDAY, thousands of people cram themselves on and off the London underground; those tightly packed trains designed to allow Londoners to travel around London with COMFORT and EASE!!!  So you’re standing on one leg, holding your breath, making room for that extra person to wedge themselves in, not the most stylish way to travel but doable. What makes the tube a miserable way to travel is those passengers who insist on making it their mission to irritate you in any way possible. 

Firstly, if you’re lucky enough to park your derriere on one of the carpet coated seats there is always someone who seems set to disturb you’re quiet journey by moaning about the awful British weather, the price of tickets or the crowded streets of Oxford Street.

You would think that after living in the country for 20 years, you may have gotten used to the wind and the rain. We are in England, the capital of drizzle, get an umbrella and a waterproof and deal with it. Or better still, follow the trend and move to Spain!

London is expensive, it comes with the territory, if it bothers you that much walk the 5minute stretch and save your pennies.

 It’s a Saturday, what do you expect? The main shopping street in central London is a tourists haven. Travel to the suburbs, bag a bargain without the discomfort of someone’s elbow in your chest.

Secondly, when tightly packed like sardines into a narrow carriage there is always someone who thinks their balancing skills are such that the handrail is dissolute. If your a circus tight rope walker then fine, but for the rest of you want to be clowns, swallow your pride and hold the rail, that way you wont bruise the toes of your innocent comrades who would appreciate not being disabled on their journey home.

Thirdly, cover your mouth when coughing. Tis the season of giving but some things are best kept to oneself in an only child like manner, i.e your germs.  The feel of someone’s groin tightly rammed against me, the occasional knock as people squeeze off the train, even the occasional paper cut from a misplaced book can all be dealt with however, the feel of saliva on the back of my neck is a no no. Ask your grandma for a hanky for Christmas.

Fourthly, 8am on a Monday morning crammed on a train is not the time to pick up women. You can give me a free doughnut, tell me I look hot in a suit, but you are still unlikely to get my number.  And under no circumstances should you chase me off a train when it’s not your stop. Telling me you work on Warren Street when you have followed me off the train and Kings cross is likely to scare me not flatter. “Turn around, you’re going the wrong direction you weirdo”.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate the convenience of our faithful underground system, the streets of London were not made for 6inch heels. And of course you do get days where you can indulge in decent conversation with a complete stranger, no one is auditioning for clown school, people raise their hands to stop the spread of disease and men quietly eye up talent.  You can travel from A to B or A to B via C and D without the added obstacles and arrive at your destination satisfied that your journey required little more effort than folding the newspaper into a fan to prevent dehydration.  Have a good trip!

Sarah Butt ©

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Lazy Britain

November 25, 2008 at 7:29 pm (General chat) (, , , , , , , )

ocaqkuj1ica9dbax8ca2e58vtcazgow2zca39lo9fca1vp3uzca8xm07hca6rfjuwca4ud1ybcasnee1dcadravzicanx5siscazemo5pca43vd7ccazy35s6cagvfor5ca2l8a88cat47tr7ca1kzqa5CONVENIENCE stores, fast food, personal shoppers, diet pills, the list of time saving products is endless. There is a quick fix for nearly everything and I am all for making our lives a little easier to manage. But, there are certain conveniences that I can do without.

 

When a normal shopping trip ended abruptly the other day resulting in shock and dismay I could not help but think, “has our convenience culture gone too far?” No I did not see a robot that feeds the cat nor did I see a light bulb that changes itself, I was confronted by something far more disturbing; ready glassed wine!

 

We live in a fast paced society, where time pressures dominate our lives but has it really got to the stage where we are too lazy to pour our own wine? Are we really ready to bin the bottle, relegate the corkscrew and throwaway the glass ware in favour of plastic glasses covered in plastic film? I believe not! The novel bottle has many years ahead of it and will continue to hold a firm place in my heart.

 

The first glance: I am a firm believer in the miracle of a glass (or two) of red wine at the end of the day. As I get through the door, feet hurting and eyes dry after a long day at work, the sight of the maroon coloured bottle in the kitchen gives me instant relief from my burdens and a smile encapsulates my face. I somehow doubt that plastic glasses containing vinegar type substances, surrounded by a cardboard case would have the same curing qualities.  

 

The opening: Then there is the pop of the cork, an endearing sound that signals the end of a hard day and the start of some well deserved me time. Pealing back a plastic film is not appealing, give me a corkscrew any day.

 

The pouring: As the glass fills with sumptuous red liquid there is an important decision to be made; when to stop pouring. Half a glass, three quarters of a glass, or my personal favourite, up to the rim. Ready packed wine takes away this decision. Is it not enough that everywhere we look, we are reminded of the harms of our little indulgence without a plastic glass mocking us in our own home with the ready measured tipple.  

 

The drinking: The feel of a delicate crystal glass on your lips gives a sense of class, an extra indulgence and ultimately the way wine was made to be drunk. In my opinion, plastic throwaway glasses belong at teenage parties where breakages are likely and the alcohol is cheap. Perhaps this is simply minimalism gone mad. Maybe the traditional wine glass is now considered clutter, as unfashionable as the once sort after 1950s fireplace. Surely this cannot be so.

 

Will this new ingenious convenient product catch on? In my opinion, no. The ease of having ready poured wine does not match up to the pleasure of the original bottle and all its perks. What’s more, in a time where carbon emissions and waste management are hot on the agenda, should we really be promoting a product that is made to be disposed of? Ultimately, myself and I’m sure many others will not demote our trusted bottles and will continue to enjoy its pleasure right through to the disappointment when the bottle hits the numerous other bottles in the recycling bin! Cheers!

 

Sarah Butt ©

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