Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Appearances, perceptions and reality.

Today being Wednesday, my run took me to Uppermill, where I did a lightning tour of shops and market stalls and ended up in the main square in time for a bus home. I work to a tight schedule on these Wednesday morning trips, allowing myself just enough time to visit all the places on my list. Consequently I was not impressed today when an item I was purchasing at the co-op had a bar code which refused to be read. I was even less impressed when the already slow-to-react cashier began to type in the code, stopped to help out another cashier with a totally different problem, made a mistake in my code and proposed to start afresh. I gave up and left the item behind. Barcodes appear to make life easier and shopping faster but appearances can be deceptive.

On the bus home there were two gentlemen, aged somewhere in their mid- to late-fifties, at the very least. One of them had one of those hairstyles that much younger men seem to favour these days: cut very short and close at the sides, almost shaven, but worn longer and in a bit of a man-bun on the top. In his case, he also had strands of the topknot hair died a sort of electric blue. (This colour looks fine on our nineteen year old granddaughter, by the way, but at nineteen you can get away with such things.) He also sported the kind of hipster beard favoured, once again, by much younger men. His companion had thinning hair pulled back into a pony tail - never a very good look, in my humble opinion - and a wispy beard. His most striking feature though, and one of which he was clearly proud since he kept tweaking it, was a waxed moustache, curled upwards at the ends, in a kind of slightly subdued Salvador DalĂ­ style. No doubt they thought their appearances were fine!

I came across some statistics from an Ipsos Mori survey. It seems that many countries' perceptions of the size of the Muslim population in their country is seriously out of line with reality. Many European states, including France, the UK, Belgium and Germany greatly overestimate the numbers in their country. The average French person estimates that 31% of the population is Muslim while the reality
is that in 2010 it stood at 7.5%. Similarly British people surveyed put the Muslim population at 15% while the actual figure in 2010 was 5%. Too many people believe the scaremongering in certain parts of the media. For details of how other countries view things follow this link.

Over breakfast I read that Andrew Lloyd Webber believes he "discovered" the singer Rihanna while on holiday in Barbados 12 years ago together with his creative partner, Nigel Wright. She was singing karaoke and he was impressed but decided not to take any action. “I said to Nigel, ‘If we bring her back, you know it’s like when you see a picture when you’re away and you take it home and you think, why did I buy that?’” said Webber. “I thought: we’ll get her back, it’ll be fine, but then what do we do with her?” I don't think he can really claim any credit there!

And finally, it appears that Spain might be changing its time. It has been proposed that they should have the same time as the UK and Portugal. Geographically Spain is in the same time zone as the UK and Portugal and always used to have the same time as us. Then General Franco shifted the time forward an hour in 1942 in solidarity with Hitler's Germany and the clocks have been running that way ever since.

Professor Nuria Chinchilla, director of the International Centre for Work and Family at Spains IESE Business School says that this time anomaly is very bad for the country. It affects sleep patterns: “It’s awful and it affects people’s ability to look after their children and spend time with them after school; we’re also sleeping an hour less than we should be, so we’re less productive given the hours worked and there are more accidents. It’s really irrational and that’s why we’re campaigning for it to be fixed.”

She said turning back the clocks and introducing a 9-to-5 day would yield swift and obvious benefits: “If we turn the clocks back, it’ll get darker earlier and so people will want to go home earlier. It would also be good for the body and people would work better and more productively.”

There you go. Perhaps the Spanish only "appear" to need a siesta. Let's see if it all works out.

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