A couple of days ago I was having a rant about freecycle freeloaders, ie people who ask for an item but then expect you to post it or deliver it at your own expense. It got worse: yesterday someone with whom I’d had a lengthy exchange including giving him my phone number, and who had arranged to turn up between 8 and 9 am – not the most convenient hour – yes,you’ve guessed it, failed to turn up.
I went back to Freecycle intending to message them and saw instead a suggestion from another member: Fed up? Try Freegle. And I did. By gum, as John Noakes used to say, it’s so much better. The app takes a bit of getting used to but everything is on there: no need to exchange complicated messages or phone numbers, it’s all there on the site. So I posted the chest of drawers the man had failed to collect, got a reply, had a speedy and straightforward exchange and bingo,it was collected this morning. Job done.
I think I’ll be using freegle from now on.
Oh, and there’s a comments box where you can say how happy you were with the transaction, and why.
I’m beginning to think that freecycle users should have feedback like ebay sellers do. Not those who offer things so much, although anyone who tries to get money ‘for expenses’ or whatever should get a black mark, but people who ask for things. There should be negative feedback for people who don’t turn up, or engage in protracted email exchanges before going eerily quiet and never getting back to you again. This has happened to me quite often but unless you exchange texts it’s difficult to identify previous offenders. No, but what annoys me the most are people who ignore the basic premises that a) everything is offered for free and b) it needs to be collected. I’ve had people ask me if an item is new, I’ve had others ask me to post items as ‘Loughborough is too far to come’ (then what are you doing on the Loughborough freecycle group?) But today’s took the biscuit: someone asked if I could deliver an item of furniture to Nottingham. Honestly! I responded, curtly I hope, that it’s collection only – but really it shouldn’t need saying. After all, I don’t go on the Nottingham group because it’s too far away. These people are taking the piss, and I think they should get some negative feedback.
We all know that a watched pot never boils, but I’d always assumed that it never seemed to boil because when you’re standing there watching as opposed to doing something else, time crawls. But I’m beginning to wonder: could something quite different be going on here? Of course the watched pot does eventually boil (in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics, as OH keeps reminding me) but what if observing not only seems to slow it down but actually does slow it down? I have a feeling that this is a scientifically understood phenomenon, that observing a process without any other interference can change that phenomenon. It could be in quantum mechanics, I’m not sure; OH will correct me if I’m wrong. I would suggest timing the watched pot, were it not that timing is in itself a form of observation. It’s like those fitbit things people use to measure their sleep: there’s no way of knowing how much you sleep without the fitbit on your wrist.
Anyway I know from experience that watching a phenomenon can change it, sometimes dramatically. If you want to break a habit the best way is not to force yourself to abstain but to observe, to watch the thoughts and feelings that surround the habit and which are the key to letting it go. A propos of which, I decided to try an experiment. I have a condition called allergic rhinitis – which I suspect is just a name given to something they can’t explain – whereby my nose runs and I sneeze a lot without any external stimulus. This is compounded by eating milk products, so I should avoid dairy altogether. But I like cheese! Cow’s milk and yoghurt I can live without but there is no substitute for cheese. Be that as it may, I wondered: could sneezing be a habit that might be controlled by observing it? Or to put it another way, might a watched nostril never sternutate? I decided to give it a try. I would keep a record of how often I sneezed and how many times.
I’ll keep you posted. Bet you’re on the edge of your seats…
No, that’s not a euphemism. I’ve been banking with Nat West ever since I was a student, which is more years ago than I care to remember: in those days campuses were swarming with banks eager to get their hands on your student grant, though not so eager to offer an overdraft. This was fine by me; credit is far too easy to get nowadays and that makes me – well, uneasy. Be that as it may, there came a day when I fell on hard times and needed an overdraft. By then it was all too easy to get, and thanks to the charges I got deeper and deeper into debt; in the last few years my balance has bumped the limit of the overdraft on a monthly basis. I was just about coping with the charges but then they saw fit to double them, since which time I’ve been desperate to change banks. Nationwide, being just about the only mutual left, is the obvious choice, but how to do it? I could have transferred my overdraft but I wanted to start with a clean slate, with an account that had no overdraft facility. Yet how was I going to get my hands on that sort of money?
And then there was a windfall. Miracles may take longer but they do happen, and thanks to this windfall I was able to pay off my overdraft in one fell swoop. I kept opening my banking app to gaze at my balance, in the black for the first time in years. But the greatest joy of all was to give Nat West the heave and switch my account to Nationwide. The switch was completed today and it gave me huge twinges of pleasure to cut up my old debit card and stick it in the bin.
Happy new year to all my readers. Thanks for sticking with me in 2021 and I look forward to your company in 2022. Here’s hoping for a better year – I’d like to see the back of covid and this government… oh, and I saw a lovely Yamaha 125 in a showroom window. I’d like that too please.
So I got my DNA results today. No, I haven’t been involved in some sort of crime, I’ve had my genome sequenced for Xmas. Anyone can do this: there are various sites where you can sign up and for a fee you get a jar to spit in which you then send off, a bit like a covid test but without the anxiety, and then you get all sorts of information back about your genetic make-up.
Mine wasn’t terribly surprising. I know that I come from three generations of Londoners, but I also have one Scottish great grandparent and some Scandinavian input. You can find out loads more including your predisposition to diseases, but I haven’t done that yet. Anyway I’m 63% British or Irish, 28% French or Belgian and bits of Scandinavian. I’m also more Neanderthal than 53% of the population. Not sure what to make of that really, though OH reckons the Neanderthals have a bad press.
So now you know. I hope you all had a good Xmas and are enjoying the holiday.
There’s a bell tower in Loughborough, just yards from our window in fact, called the Carillon https://www.carillontower.org.uk/ Most people call it The Carri-llon whereas, being a French word it should be pronounced Carry-on, but however you say it the bell tower is a focal point of the town. A couple of years ago I went up the tower and saw that the bells were rung not by means of ropes but via a keyboard, except not with piano keys but layers of wooden levers hit with the hand, a bit like Monty Python’s Mouse Organ but without the cruelty. Very strange. Anyway at lunchtime today a crowd gathered to sing carols accompanied by the Carillon. All the usual favourites were there; Hark the Herald, Away in a Manger (predictive text just suggested Away in a Mango), Ding Dong Merrily on High , Good King Wenceslas and many many more. It was cold but good fun, even if trying to keep in time with the Carillon made it a bit like that game in I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue where they try to sing in time to a record.
So that’s me over and out for a few days. Have a very happy Christmas and see you on the other side.
I’ve had my booster jab now. Not that I’m going to boast about it: I leave all that to the just-about Prime Minister. (Great joke on Dead Ringers: We now go to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson – unless you’re listening to the repeat). No, if I boast, let it be in the NHS that made all this possible. Mind you, it was a bit of a palaver: I turned up at the main entrance and asked for the Grace Dieu ward (named after a local abbey). I was wearing a mask of course so the receptionist didn’t hear properly. ‘The Breast Care centre? Yes of course…’ and she was half way through the directions before I stopped her and repeated my request. ‘For a booster jab, ‘ I clarified. ‘Oh, the Grays Dew ward? Yes, it’s round the back.’ Hopefully under my mask she couldn’t see me grimacing at the pronunciation. I went round and round until it seemed impossible that there could be any more back left, and still I wasn’t there. I stopped in a car park and some freshly vaccinated folk took pity on me. ‘It’s round the back!’ they said.
I got there in the end. A very nice soldier took my details: I’d heard the army were helping out but it was the first time I’d seen any. Finally I got the jab and having come nearly 9/10 of the way round the hospital, found a rather muddy short cut back to my car.
I’m a little tired this afternoon but no other ill effects. It’s a real boost…
I am pleased to announce that the car passed its MOT. This is a feat which grows more improbable with each passing year as the Focus is now 17 years old and counting. Mind you, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I went down to the garage early as the arrangement is to turn up and wait. Alas, since Covid you have to book an appointment. What a turn-up! Anyway the guy said to leave it with him and he’d try to fit it in. I waited all day with no word and when I tried to call there was no answer. Poor little Bertie had to spend the night alone in the garage. Fortunately in the morning all was well and I picked him up safe and sound. That’s 3 years in a row he’s passed the test.
It’s a very bad time of year to be decorating, what with snow on the ground and ice in the wind, so call me eccentric but I’m deep into the bedroom. The reason for this unseasonable activity is that since the arrival of a sofa Actually Big Enough to Sleep On!!! I am now able to paint a room which has been annoying me with its tawdry muckiness for years. I’ve already tackled the mould and one wall is cupboards which I’m not going to touch so it’s basically three walls and a ceiling. I’ve actually made a start on the ceiling and made a right pig’s ear of it because I can’t see what the hell I’m doing. So I’ll just have to spend a few more hours flailing wildly around with the roller and hope for the best.
And here’s the lovely sofa that made it all possible.