Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday Supplement

I've touched on this before: the logorrhoea of some of the upper middle classes, the effusive politesse that topples over into parody.
This morning I stood back to let a woman through a shop door.
"Oh, that is kind of you!" she said. "Thank you so much!"

Now, if I had paid for her Sunday papers, then taken her home and cooked her a full English breakfast, washed and 'valet-ed' her Range Rover while she was eating it, then tied her to my bed with one of my newly-discovered thin Sixties ties and rogered her until lunchtime before sending her home to her husband with a gift-wrapped box of Ferrero Rocher, then an appropriate response might have been: "Oh, that is kind of you! Thank you so much!"

But I only let her through a doorway ahead of me. I would have been quite happy with "Thank you". Or, as the paper boys and girls say to me when I similarly prioritise their egress (women and children first is our family motto: I'm descended from seafarers, you know) "Cheers, mate."

What torrent of words would pour from that woman's mouth if you saved her Labrador from drowning in the village brook? She'd be thanking you from Harvest Festival till Christmas.


*****

Also this morning, I discovered another reason not to lament that I shall never hear that two-tone cry of 'Da-ad!'
The Sunday papers are now so heavy that I saw some paper boys and girls being collected from the newsagent in their parents' cars and chauffeur driven on their paper round.
So after a week of ferrying them to school and back and driving them to and from friends' houses, these poor fathers don't even get the traditional Sunday lie-in any more.
The Victorians were more sensible. When they sent little boys up chimneys their fathers didn't sit on the roof winching them up on ropes with a mobile shower unit on standby in the Squire's garden.
*****

I may have given you the impression that I am not currently in a relationship. I now realise this was not strictly true and must apologise.
I realised my mistake when I read a letter from the Managing Director of British Gas in yesterday's Money Guardian. He said that British Gas were very proud to have 'some 24 million customer relationships'.
Not so long ago he would have simply said that they have 24 million customers.

Having 24 million relationships takes promiscuity to astronomical levels. But I myself have relationships with any number of corporate giants and in many cases it's a bit like a long-term marriage. I stay with them through apathy and laziness, despite the fact that I could find a cheaper partner elsewhere. British Gas come and give me a cursory service once a year, for which I pay them an absurd amount of money. I continue to do so from superstition: the conviction that as soon as I cancel the agreement my boiler will explode.

The one occasion that I demanded more from our relationship, an impertinent youth told me I could repair a radiator myself if I had something called an 'Alan Key'. I replied that I had neither an Alan Key nor a Colin Key. Someone called Graham had once given me his front door key but I had returned it, fearing that things were getting too serious. The teenage gas representative made his excuses and left and the bathroom radiator remained as cold as my erstwhile relationship with Graham.

Perhaps the people in most urgent need of relationship counselling are the water companies. They have again been telling us that huge amounts of water could be saved if we didn't leave the tap running while brushing our teeth. Meanwhile, their own crumbling infrastructure is leaking billions of gallons of water almost as fast as dividends are lining the pockets of their shareholders.
It's a bit like a wife criticising her husband for having a couple of beers in the pub every night whilst she is sitting at home guzzling several litres of Lambrusco.
*****

I mentioned the other day that the new format Guardian is frequently missing some of its sections and that I had telephoned their call centre.
It's only fair to say that the call centre staff were friendly and helpful. They didn't put me on hold or make me listen to the Four Seasons and they didn't call me 'yourself'.
Moreover, when they said they would post me the missing section, it was no idle promise. It was sent First Class and arrived the next morning.
It would have been even more impressive if they hadn't sent me the wrong section.
Why does life have to be like this?

More consumer news: those clever people at Messrs Heinz have launched a new Tomato Ketchup bottle with a 'Stay Clean Cap' that doesn't clog.
I am pleased to report that it works superbly well. The sauce gushed forth in a forceful, uninterrupted flow.
This may be nit-picking on my part, but the sauce issued from my bottle at a right angle, completely missing my chips and covering my shirt in ketchup.
Maybe it was just a rogue bottle, the condiment equivalent of the Jewish man who had been circumcised by a Rabbi with Parkinson's and spent his life pissing over other men's shoes. But of all the ketchup bottles in all the supermarkets, why did I have to buy that one?
I say again, why does life have to be like this?



10 Comments:

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Jonathan Blake said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger Jonathan Blake said...

Hello Willie.

Re the ketchup bottle, the same thing happened to me last month, and that was a bottle purchased at my local supermarket here in Madrid. Well I wasn't wearing a shirt that day as it was quite hot here, but certainly the stay-clean cap stayed clean all right, but the plate on which my bacon sandwich lay was completely by-passed and the ketchup ended up on the table, and I still haven't worked out how to aim the thing so that the sauce lands where I want it, so I recommend unscrewing the whole mechanism and using a long-handled teaspoon. The stay-clean cap will stay clean even longer this way, obviously.

Another coincidence, I also had a key to the flat of a boyfriend called Graeme (different spelling, I know, but still). And I think we're the same age, too.

And you may have noticed that, quite independently, we chose the same colour scheme for our blogs, though I have subsequently made some minor alterations to mine.

Spooky or what?

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Most interesting. If Heinz are selling them in America, there'll be litigation, or dry cleaning bills to pay at the very least.

Here's a troubling thought: it could have been a different spelling but the same Graham. His flat may have had more keyholders than a luggage locker at Euston Station. We're better off rid of him.

I'd like to change my blog colour but I'm afraid of what might happen, even though I've backed up the template. Experience has taught me that with computers you should never change or upgrade something that is working. It's the Curse of The Known Issues. Oddly, when you buy a new car you don't get a 'Read Me' that says when the car exceeds 50 mph the wheels fall off but a patch for this problem will be available shortly.

There have been at least three EFL teachers in my family but happily I'm not one of them. I've just remembered though that in my youth I was offered an EFL job in Spain. Maybe you took it instead, which is just as well because I don't like too much heat.

 
At 6:12 PM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Unless I miss my guess, I detect a little grumpiness in this post.
Try to maintain a sunny disposition, respect your fellow human beings, and go around with a light heart. You will feel much better and live longer.

 
At 7:22 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

Mrs Zahod has an Alan Key and she's not scared to use it either.
Me, I stay well away from radiators since my small accident.

 
At 6:10 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

VS: rest assured, like all my posts it was written with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Mr Zaphod: a woman who knows how to use an Alan Key is certainly something to be feared.

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger JonnyB said...

Nope - I'm afraid the new Heinz ketchup bottles are a debacle. OK if you've got a large plate to aim for, but squeezing just a little onto a sausage sandwich is impossible.

And they leak if you store them upside-down.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Norbert Trouser-Quandary said...

Hey, Willie.
I might know as little about DIY as I know about the mating habits of the North-Venezuelan Weasel-Slapping Vulture, but I do know about bleeding bleedin' radiators. Unless they have come out with some new-fangled radiators I don't know about (entirely possible BTW), then what you need is not an Allen Key, but a radiator key - which usually resembles one of those keys you used to have for your clockwork toys (back when they had proper toys, of course.).
It fits over the semi-concealed protuberance at the top of the radiator. You just turn it until the radiator starts farting at you, then - usually a second or two later - when it starts piddling at you instead, you just tighten it back up and then Robert is thenceforth a parental sibling.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

jonny: sounds like a suitable case for Watchdog or some similar programme.

david, thanks but I didn't relate the full story, which had nothing to do with bleeding radiators, somthing at which I am quite accomplished. In fact, I'm a right little bleeder.

 
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