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Posts by Scott
Saturday morning – mild hangover – full strength lurgy – maximum desire to stay in bed.
Turned on the radio to hear high-up wonk from the Post Office getting duffed up a bit by John Humphries
“So. The post office. It’s a bit shit isn’t it?”
(That may not be the exact wording – it was early)
“No, no, no. We delivered Twelve-ty gazillion packages a day, on time and on target. We do an excellent job in difficult conditions”
“Postman Pat, perhaps but the reality is, is it not, that it is, is it not, a bit shit?”
I pulled up the duvet, planning to nod off until Sandi Toksvig turned up to take me somewhere exotic.
“And what about Parcels? You don’t deliver them when people are actually at HOME, do you? and then you take them to a sorting office in the middle of nowhere which is only open between 07:31 and 07:34 on the first Thursday of Whitsun, do you not? what are you going to do about it?”
At this, I stirred uncomfortably. I had a parcel to collect. An important, nay VITAL parcel. The parcel containing all the presents my family had spent their time and money choosing and wrapping to be unwrapped and enjoyed on Xmas day. By Me.
“John, John, John – Your local post office is opening earlier and closing later over the xmas period. We have extra staff members ready to service you, the much cherished customer whom we venerate and adore. Of course, today IS the busiest day of the year and there WILL be busy-ness and queues and strife and chaos and woe and wailing and gnashing of teeth and some minor delays MAY be experienced by a few unfortunate customers but I think you’ll find that we’re offering an excellent range of … “
Suddenly, I was awake, out of bed and hurriedly putting my feet into my shirt sleeves. Within a couple of minutes I had my clothes on the appropriate limbs and was on the bus. Leapt off by the post office at 08:59. So far, so good.
The queue for the post office was on the street. “Already?” I thought. Then I noticed the door was locked. “But I heard the nice man on the radio saying they were open early? Don’t they USUALLY open at 9?”
The door was still locked at quarter past nine. Unrest in the queue. Pension books were being rattled against bus passes.
A fast car dramatically screeched to a halt. A hand was stuck out of the window, waving a key like the Lady of the Lake bearing Excalibur. The woman at the front of the queue ambled over, took the key, stuck her head in the window, chatted for a moment and sauntered back as the driver shot off, delivering keys wherever they were needed.
After some jovial banter (“i’ll probably set the alarm off now – ha ha ha ha ha”) the door was unlocked and the queue shuffled inside. By 9:30, I’d reached the front and handed over my card. Postofficelady peered at it, ran her finger down a list, then the second page of the list, then the first page again, then shook her head
“parcel, is it? and it’s definitely here? only it’s not on my list. What size is it?”
“the card I just gave you is all the information I have”
“Any idea where it would be? only it’s not on my list.”
“where? how would I possibly know?”
“It should be have been logged on my list. Do you want to have a look on my list while I have a look in the back?”
After 5 minutes of shuffling box sounds, she re-emerged.
“i’m sorry, it’s not here.”
“oh. Really? well….”
“you’ll have to phone Parcelforce – NEXT”
“I’LL have to?”
“yes – NEXT!”
“but the card said …
Tutting and hard stares were getting me nowhere so I resigned myself to calling Parcelforce HQ. They
also had a list. Their list said my parcel was at a different post office to the one the driver had written on the card.
“and where is that, exactly?”
“Well, I don’t really know the area so i can’t give you directions. I can give you the post code?”
“How would the postcode help me? I’m standing in the street with nothing but a broken umbrella and an altogether useless piece of card in my hands. What am I going to do with a sodding post code?”
“Can’t really help you mate. Can’t be far though.”
Relying on a bus stop map and directions from a man who warily stood between his dog and the bedraggled, beardy man dripping rain on his shoes, I finally found the place. And got my parcel without any fuss or hassle or rudeness. And I’m now aware of a Post Office I never knew existed before.
As luck would have it, I’d now walked almost all the way back to where I started, only now I had a box full of parcels, some recently acquired greasy-fry-up provisions and an extension to my loathing for mankind.
“it’s beginning to feel a lot like Xmas”
There are songs that you keep for best. Songs you can’t bear to end. Songs that you save for times when you know That Song and only That Song will make everything in the world seem better, just for a moment.
My dad always talked about music that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up but I never knew what he meant until the first time I heard Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”. From the opening sigh to the final silvery guitar notes, I couldn’t move. The instant it finished, I had to play it again. Every time since then, I’ve been unable to listen to it just once and rarely with entirely dry eyes.
Last night, that song produced a different sort of tears – tears of sheer, bloody frustration. The latest product of Simon Cowell’s Pop Factory has released a cover version. The sort of identikit, soulless, artless cover version that doesn’t even register as song, just a collection of musical kit parts arranged in the least challenging order. I have no idea who the artiste is, she isn’t worth the google. From the 30 seconds I could bear, she’s evidently the sort of singer who sees “emotion” as a box to tick by clenching a fist, closing her eyes and putting more notes in. Nothing but nothing gets my goat more than the unthinking diva who uses Every Bloody Line as a chance to swoop around their vocal range like a vulture at mountain-side plane crash.
Nobody cares how many notes you can sing. Nobody.
Just find that one, perfect note. The note that sounds like your heart is being wrenched apart so that one note can get out and unload every last speck of pain or joy or despair or love that you’ve ever felt to any ear prepared to listen because you had no choice but to set it loose.
Buckley, for the record, had a massive three to four octave vocal range. None of his songs contain the sort of vain histrionics, compulsorily for today’s career diva. He used his notes – picked them with care and love. He used tone and timing and volume. He treated his range as a vast set of colours from which to pick exactly the right shade. He didn’t paint rainbows on every inch of the page.
There’s more to being an artist than learning technique. You have to learn what to do with it.
There’s a campaign to download the Buckley version enough times to stop the travesty being Xmas number one. It might seem petty but it might just make you feel better, just for a moment.
This week, I’ve been wishing there was some way I could register a vote for Obama.
Then I saw yesterday that he’s reversing the ban on stem cell research and calling a halt on the oil drilling in Alaska and wonder if I could, in some way, have his babies.*
This rush of enthusiasm may not last as far as him actually getting to the White House but I’m quite enjoying feeling hopeful about what a politician will achieve. I’ve not felt so positive about a President since Jed Bartlett.
The downside, of course, is Buffy the Moose Slayer thinking she can beat him next time if she just starts running now. Sweetie, not even if you tied his shoelaces together and took the bus.
*that would be future seed of his loins, not anything Gary-Glitter-style to do with his current offspring. Just so we’re clear.
“you remember that girl from school? the one with the hair and the eyes?”
Scarily, I did. Mother keeps me up to date with all the latest from the old home town, most of it depressing. I was expecting a story about treacherous adultery or painful disease.
“well, she was asking for you the other day. Says you really have to get together and do something next year”
This was a bit out of the blue. Clearly, as a woman, my old schoolmate would have struggled to resist my charms but like so many of the women in my life, she had managed up until now.
“what with it being twenty years since you left school”
I blinked and pondered.
“the … um … rack over there.”
“hmmm. I’ll have to ask the supervisor. One moment, sir”
I blinked and pondered again.
“Really? I mean, it’s usually straight-forward. I hand you a pack of batteries and some money, you keep the money and give me back the batteries. If it helps, I don’t need to give you the batteries?”
“One moment, sir”
Shopping is usually To Be Avoided but as I required a new ironing board, I had no choice. When I bought a new kettle, I discovered a surprising problem. They are all essentially the same – cold water in, boiling water out – but you have to choose one and only one, so what criteria do you use? If you’re me, you fall for the hype – count the features and pick the biggest number, even though I have no use for any feature beyond the Boiling Water one. I ended up with a kettle that provides mood lighting for the kitchen. This is only really effective when the kitchen is dark i.e. when I’m not in it. I feel guilty leaving it on just for the cats to enjoy the pretty colours and so it’s an almost entirely redundant “feature”. Is something still a Feature if you don’t want it?
Choosing an ironing board proved even harder. I need it to be flat and a bit spongy. In many ways, a plank with a towel over it would be ideal. Fiona helpfully talked me through the options.
“You’ll need a taller one”
“Er … ?”
“So you don’t have to bend over so far. It’s better for your back. And it could do with being wider.”
“Um … ?”
“So you can do more at once”
“Ah. Oooo what’s THAT? Do I need one of those?”
“No. That’s a steam generator.”
“Doesn’t my iron generate steam?”
“No… well, yes…. but… look, you DON’T need one”
“But … the shiny?”
Off we went to Argos, filled in the form with the bookie-size pens and went to the counter. On the way, I spotted the aforementioned batteries.
“That’s fine, sir. I’ll just ring that through for you”
“Excellent. So can I have the … where are you going?”
“I’ll just need to check in the back. One moment, sir”
“For WHAT, exactly? You’ve got my batteries in your HAND!”
“One moment, sir.”
Finally getting home, I went Iron Crazy. I gots the flattest stuff you ever did see. I even ironed some hankies, just for the flatness.
The, in my opinion, unnecessarily three-dimensional cats have started shuffling nervously.