So, we're nearly halfway through January. Sorry, 'Dry January.' As if that wasn't enough misery to heap onto one's shoulders, we've now added in 'Veganuary' for good measure. Dontcha just LOVE all these things?! Stoptober, Movember.....
I do actually think it's an excellent plan for the world to eat far, far less meat. And also treat our environment better. Of course I do, I live in hippie Brighton, after all. I'm intrigued as to why vegetarianism seems to have sidestepped in favour of veganism though. I guess Vegetarianary isn't half so easy to manage as Veganuary. And also, the vegans will tell us, that if we're exploiting the animals for their milk or eggs, it's really no different to eating them, which is not an argument I concur with at all. Factory workers in certain parts of the world are exploited. I think there's quite a large difference between that exploitation and them being eaten.
Also, I don't think the nice kind farmers would carry on letting the lambs, pigs and cows roam freely on their land without some kind of payoff if we all did become vegan.
I do only eat small amounts of organic meat less than half the week. This does not make me a saint and I'm not pretending otherwise, but it's a help.
What irks me, alongside the smug zeal that is often present, is remarks such as the one an acquaintance of mine received when she announced (foolishly in my opinion cos everyone piles in) on Facebook that she was attempting Veganuary. 'Be careful and start slowly' - someone had advised, I'm paraphrasing here - 'because going from carnivore to vegan will be difficult.' CARNIVORE?! Cats are carnivores. Unless humans want to get seriously ill they won't be carnivores, they are OMNIVORES. Or pescetarians, vegetarians or vegans, if they prefer. I wish these vegans would get their facts straight. ;-)
It was London Fashion Week a few weeks back. I knew it was upcoming because a brochure displaying overpriced textiles weighed down my weekly newspaper. It’s a shame I don’t have a fire that needs stoking – it went straight in the recycling.
My opinion of fashionistas is about the same as my opinion of slimy politicians. Truth be told, it’s not been helped by my encounters with two stylists; one a childhood terror, who bossed us all around from her self-elected pedestal, the other I tried to work with on a project years later. It would seem that to be a stylist you have to be an egocentric narcissist with no thought for the feelings of others, but perhaps I was just unlucky. Designers do at least design the clothes, stylists just use others’ clothes to dress a model – the Emperor’s New Clothes of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Anyway, I was minded as to how far removed Fashion Week is from real people and real clothes (in the same way Michelin-starred restaurants bear no relationship to what people actually eat) by my recent despairing search to find a pair of lightweight trousers. I wanted some that weren’t either made of linen (creased forever more in the way a car loses value when driven off the dealer’s forecourt) or look like pyjama bottoms - these nightmarish patterned clown garb make up ALL other casual trousers. What I wanted was what used to be called chinos I believe – a lightweight, mostly cotton mix, with a couple of handy, possibly zipped pockets to pop your phone and keys in when striding off on a summer walk.
Wearily I trudged round all the chain shops and even some boutiques with no luck before facing the inevitable. Once the shops were stuffed with chinos, but women clearly don’t go striding off any more. They lounge in their pyjama bottoms or sit on yachts with staff to iron the sodding linen trousers.
It ends on a happy note, however. I stumbled into good old Mountain Warehouse looking for a backpack and there were rows of them, nodding and twinkling in the breeze. I got two pairs - I would have bought more, but those were the only two left in my size in the sale. So Fashionistas can jog right on (or totter in their heels), I’m striding off once more.
I have been with Natwest bank for about 20 years, in which time there have been many incidents of crass incompetence. A couple of times the incompetence was so great I received a complimentary bottle of wine and a credit of £100 to my account. Before you say it, I could change banks, but from talking to others, it seems they are all much of a muchness. There isn’t space to detail all the incidents – I’ve just picked a couple.
The branch in London that I used to frequent some years ago had queues of immensely depressing length and density (this was before the paying-in machines). Whole civilisations have risen and fallen in the time that it took to get to the front of that queue. The staff were clearly uncomfortable at dealing with the level of ire manifest in customers who had entered the building several years younger, so would conduct the whole exchange of monies in a defiant mumble. Then a whole lot of money was wasted on market research trying to find out why their customers were so cross. Their conclusion was because the staff hadn’t talked to them. For the next few weeks, the staff would chirrup nervously: ‘How are you today?’ ‘Well, I just ate my own foot while I was waiting.’ ‘Ok, do you want to pay that cheque in…?’ This was eventually dropped in favour of, ‘Sorry to have kept you waiting’, which was a significant improvement.
I was a signatory for a company for a while. One day two of us from the company went into our branch to change some details relating to the account. The staff member said, ‘But we need to see X because she’s a signatory.’
We explained that X had left the company, was no longer a signatory and we had told them this, in writing, at the time.
As if we had not spoken: ‘Yes, but we’ve got X as being a signatory.’
‘Well, that’s wrong. Y and Z are now the signatories and have been signing cheques for the last two years.’
‘No, that wouldn’t have been allowed, because X is the signatory.’
‘It WAS allowed. It happened. Cheques were signed by Y and Z. The money left the account.’
You get the picture. It ended with raised voices and storming out.
There was the time they sent a letter saying we were required to set up internet/telephone banking for our new company. We dutifully filled out the torturous, incomprehensible garbage that passed as a form. A few weeks later another letter arrived stating we wouldn’t be able to use internet/telephone banking because we had more than one signatory on the account. Forgive me if this sounds naïve, but don’t a great number of businesses require more than one signatory for cheques?
Lastly, I noticed a few months ago I had stopped receiving bank statements. I phoned them to report this and asked did they have the address correct? (they have on at least 3 occasions in the past changed the address they sent mail to, to an old address of mine for no reason at all)
‘I’ll have to take you through security’, she said, ‘can you give me your address…?’
I pointed out that this was the nub of the problem.
After I’d told her the address, predictably. ‘That’s not what we’ve got on the system.’
I said, ‘Can you tell me the address you’ve got?’
‘No, we’re not allowed to for security reasons.’
Deep breath. I suddenly had a flash of inspiration from a dimly recollected incident some years back. ‘Would the address you have be 218 Upper St, Islington, London?’
‘That’, I said gravely, ‘is the address of one of your branches, where my account is held.’
‘Oh, I don’t know how that happened.’
‘You’re saying that my personal statements are being sent to one of your own branches and no-one has noticed.’
some of these...
Rants appeared as ‘My Pet Peeves’ for a blog on The Argus. Everyone has pet peeves. Maybe yours is 'people who have pet peeves'. That's fine. You bog off and be peevish about that. These are my peeves and I'll cry if I want to.