Stranger and stranger…

24 February, 2010

I’m not good at remembering to check the land-line answerphone but I noticed it flashing this morning. I found there a message from a young woman from a Personnel Services company. She said she was ringing to ask whether I might be interested in a job as an ‘Inbound Sales & Services’ operative for the Co-Op bank, and she left a number and asked me to ring her back.

I couldn’t understand how she came to be ringing me, or even to have my name and telephone number, as I’ve not applied to any Personnel Services companies and nor have I applied to the Co-Op bank for a job. I rang, though, largely out of curiosity, and she said she’d rung me yesterday and that her call had been about a job in Skelmersdale for a salary of £12,750-£14,950 plus some commission and benefits.

Even more curious, I asked what the benefits were. She said she would put me onto a colleague who would tell me more. I asked whether her colleague would then pass me back, and she sounded a bit vague and said, “probably.”

So, 20 seconds or so later I was put onto a young man. He didn’t seem to know that he was meant to be telling me about benefits, so I explained the history of my telephone call so far, and why I came to be ringing. He then said the benefits included health care, a pension scheme and an annual bonus. He explained that the job involved taking incoming calls from customers and then trying to sell the bank’s products to them.

He asked if I’d be interested, and I said that potentially I would. He then said the first step would be to do a credit check. I said I’d expect the first step to be for me to make an application, but he said not, since it involved working for a bank. Um… what? I asked him the name of his company again, as I’d not got it down properly in the first instance, and said I’d go and look it up before considering the matter any further.

Is it just me, or does this sound peculiar in the extreme? Ringing people out of the blue in respect of jobs they’ve not applied for (I asked the young woman I initially spoke to how she came to have my name and telephone number, but she wasn’t able to tell me) and then wanting to do a credit check before a job has even been applied for…???

Is there some obvious scam I’m overlooking? I don’t intend to ring them back, btw, but if there’s something obvious that should have occurred to me as an explanation then please point it out. The name of the company is Rullion Personnel Services, and they do seem to exist.

Brilliant vid! Plus… wee funny jokey!

22 February, 2010

This is quite wonderful!

Somehow I think little Piggly’s brain-cells aren’t quite up to this sort of thing. I’m sure Piss-Piss could do it if she wanted to, though.

Edited to add: Heheheheh… having just received this wee jokey in an email from a pal I just couldn’t resist adding it to the end of my earlier post…

In a hospital, relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their family member lay gravely ill.

Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and sombre.

“I’m afraid I’m the bearer of bad news,’ he said as he surveyed the worried faces. ‘The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, and very risky, but it is the only hope. Insurance will cover the cost of the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain yourselves.”

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great length of time, someone asked, “Well, how much does a brain cost?”

The doctor quickly responded, “£5,000 for a male brain, and £200 for a female brain.”

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some just couldn’t help smirking. Eventually one man, unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask.

“So why does the male brain cost so much more?'”

The doctor smiled at the childish innocence, and turned to explain to the entire group. “It’s just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the price of the female brains, because they’ve actually been used.”



Apologies to those to whom I owe emails — coming soon

16 February, 2010

I owe emails to a number of peeps, but with my usual flair for disorganisation I’ve left myself too little time to send them, as I have to leave to see a pal in an hour for a few days.

Apologies: I’ll reply when I get back at the weekend.

Have fun in the meantime, ya’ll. Wrap up warm, and don’t spend all your money in the one shop.

Nuts — Teachers, lambs, slaughter, compassion for animals

16 February, 2010

Alex Renton writes in The Grauniardian

I remember noticing a story in the news a few months ago about a head teacher vilified and threatened for attempting to teach children that the lamb on their dinner plates comes from the cute wee woolly things in the fields surrounding their school. There was more to it than that, of course, but that seemed to me to be the gist of it.

This morning I received an email from Peelham Farm in Berwickshire drawing my attention to an article in last Friday’s Guardian, all about the issue.

Peelham Farm is dedicated to producing organic pigs, sheep and beef as compassionately/respectfully as possible. They attempt to reconcile our desire to eat animals with the right (my word) of farmed animals to be treated as well as possible while they survive, and our responsibility (my choice of word again) to provide that sort of treatment.

They started a scheme last year whereby up to 12 families/individuals at a time can own a Tamworth pig, which will eventually be slaughtered and turned into the yummy pork products of the owners’ choice. This scheme was drawn to my attention by the multi-talented and ever-vigilant Mango Terrier (who may also have had a paw in the creation of the Peelham website), and after some discussion it was agreed that Piglet, Piss-Piss and I could join in but on a slightly different basis. We now have a pig–Philomena–but she’s going to be a breeding sow rather than a bacon sandwich. I mentioned all this in a couple of postings some time last year.

Anyway, Peelham mentioned the article because they, in turn, were mentioned by the article’s author, journalist Alex Renton. He and his family had a pig from Peelham last year, and I think they may have another one there now. In the light of his experience he was interested in the case of the primary school head teacher, and so that’s what his article is about.

On all sorts of levels the way the teacher has been treated seems to me to be crazy. I wouldn’t mind betting that the parents so opposed to allowing their children to know that burgers come from live animals, and concerned at the harm that might be imparted by the sharing of that knowledge, would have a great deal in common with the other bunch of nutters parents who made special journeys to their children’s schools, during Jamie Oliver’s attempt to introduce some real food into school dinner menus a year or so ago, in order to pass them processed crud through the railings so that they didn’t have to come face-to-face with a vegetable.



16 February, 2010

Thanks v. much to Gibson for pointing out in email that he couldn’t seem to post to my blog. A quick check revealed that my attempt to make a read-only post had kicked in after the event, but attached itself to Piglet’s poor video! It’s fixed now but Piglet says I’m pretty thick.

Anyway, at least I finally know how to do it, even if I never have to do it again.

Piglet’s adventures on the beach

12 February, 2010

Piggly and I went walking on the beach today. We tried out the video function on the phone, and when we got home Piglet made this little fllm.

The music may ring a bell with any former 70s kiddies out there.

Choices have consequences

11 February, 2010

I’ve been trying to find a way to set this thread to ‘No Comments’, but either it isn’t possible or I’m just too thick to work it out. I’d appreciate it if people didn’t post any comments, though, because I just want to convey a bit of information and a POV, and I don’t feel able to deal with comments (whether kind or otherwise) at the moment.

I use the internet a lot, and, as all of us who do will have noticed, a practice has grown up amongst some people of imagining that they can write any old poisonous, malignant, insulting, hurtful stuff they like from behind their computers, and in particular (though not exclusively) to strangers. I suppose a few of them behave that way face-to-face as well, but I’ve got the impression that the majority of them believe that what we say from behind our computers doesn’t really constitute ‘real life’, and that real people won’t be hurt.

That’s rubbish, of course. We’re all real people, and our interactions on the internet are just as real as those we have anywhere else. We’re responsible for what we do and say to strangers on the net in precisely the same way as we are for what we do and say to people face-to-face.

Life is often a hurtful business, of course, and I don’t expect anybody to be able to get through it without suffering some scrapes and bruises. Nor do I believe that people should censor their views on the off-chance that they might offend somebody else. On the contrary, I believe it’s important that we should be able to say what we believe. We don’t have to say it nastily, though, which is the point of this posting. We don’t have to flail around wildly, or go for the jugular and aim to inflict maximum pain in order to make a point. I don’t understand why any decent person would want to post that way, and certainly not in somebody else’s space.

I know I’ve expressed this POV before, both here and elsewhere, and some of you who’ve seen me saying it may feel I sound like a broken record. Maybe some people think I’m sanctimonious. Well, if so then so be it. I’m saying it again, because I feel it’s important.

By way of illustration, as a direct result of things said by two people in the thread I posted here two days ago I received an email, this morning, terminating a friendship. On the face of it that might sound childish, but the point is that the friend who wrote to me had–rightly or wrongly–been so affected by things said on here that she just couldn’t get past it, and felt that things could never be the same between us again. That was not the result of things that I had said.

That friendship was very important to me, and the loss of it will cause me pain for the rest of my life. As a side-effect I’ve also had to withdraw from the Challenge, but the real loss is that of my friend.

I know that in the main I’m preaching to the converted, here, as only once or twice has anybody ever got nasty on this blog. I don’t plan to start moderating comments, because, despite recent events, I still don’t believe I need to. I feel so strongly about this subject, though, particularly in the light of this morning’s events, that I wanted to point out exactly what can happen when we choose to batter strangers on the internet. Things said here ARE personal: they DO wound, and the reality is that sometimes they’re INTENDED to do so.

Again: please don’t leave responses this time, for the reason I gave at the top.

Fantastic food blog

11 February, 2010

World Foodie Guide

I love reading about and looking at pictures of food almost as much as I enjoy eating it, and so I’ve looked at and followed a number of food blogs over the course of the last year or two.

This one is truly outstanding, though. I only stumbled across it last week, but thus far I’ve been there for at least an hour each time I’ve been over for a visit.

It touches upon all sorts of food, but there’s an emphasis on Chinese/Asian. There are accounts of meals eaten, with mouth-watering photographs, and also suggestions about where to eat (and not to eat) in places like London, Hong Kong, Macau, Bejing, Tokyo and Kyoto. There’s a lot of stuff about dim sum (yum!), including recipes and suggestions about where to eat it in London. Next time I’m there I’ll definitely be taking a copy of the relevant posting with me.

Sadly the author stopped blogging last December, because doing it well had become all-consuming (so to speak). The blog is still there, though, for our reference and delectation, and I’d urge anybody with even the vaguest interest in food to go right over and take a look.

Yesterday’s thread

10 February, 2010

I’ve made yesterday’s thread private, because I found the sight of the nastiness on it so utterly depressing this morning.

Anyone who posted to it, who for any reason wants to re-read it, should drop me an email, and I’ll find a way to make it accessible to you.

I’ve never done this before with a thread on my blog. I hope it’s the first and last time.

The North Face — Brilliant!

8 February, 2010

Wow… anybody who hasn’t seen this should run out *immediately* to buy it, and then lock themselves into a room at home, banish everybody else, turn the heating up and the lights off and settle back to experience it.

Inevitably there’s a degree of poetic licence involved, but the photography is simply stunning–in a completely different league to that of the film version of Touching the Void, IMO (I found that film quite disappointing, after the book)–and the sense of mounting tension created by the film makers is something that I don’t remember ever experiencing before in front of a television screen, or at the cinema.

10/10! Many thanks indeed to Mary and HMP3 for giving me the DVD ♥