Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Bus-related paranoia. Christmas madness.

We get just a little paranoid around here about the bus service. Understandably so as the buses are often late, one of the consequences of covering an extremely long route, occasionally leave early, goodness knows why, and sometimes don’t turn up at all. This last, I am told, is because of a shortage of drivers.

I was on a bus last week, en route to my daughter’s house, when it started to emit a high pitched squeal from the driver’s cab. I suspected it was a fault indicator of some kind but the driver ignored it for quite some time. Eventually, about two stops from my daughter’s, the driver stopped the bus, turned off the engine and told us, “This one’s no good. You need to wait for the next one.” Fortunately we were close enough to be able to walk the rest of the way without major inconvenience and - bonus feature - it wasn’t raining! There was a lot of grumbling about how all the rubbish buses are assigned to our bus route.

Then a couple of days ago I caught one of the alternative buses home from the supermarket. There is the main bus service, running every half hour between Ashton and Oldham via a very circuitous route, and an alternative service, Ashton to Delph, which follows an even more circuitous route, making its way round various housing estates and calling in at out of the way places. It takes an age to get anywhere but the driver is prepared to stop in between bus stops to make life easier for old folk who use the bus regularly, a practice probably against company rules! It appears to run only every two hours, so if you live in one of the out of the way places you need to plan your day carefully. 

Anyway, I caught this bus, waved my old biddy bus pass over the electronic card reader and sat down with my bags of shopping. Then I was interrogated by a bus company employee:

What was my destination?

What was the purpose of my journey?

What would I have done if this bus had not come along?

 Everyone who got on the bus was subjected to the same set of questions, answers noted down on a spreadsheet on his phone. One lady passenger wanted to know if this was an investigatory measure prior to deciding to cut the service. She had noted the same thing going on when she travelled in this bus route a few days ago. Not at all, the bus company employee assured her.

However, the understandable paranoia remains.

I mentioned my dislike of e-cards yesterday or the day before. Yesterday evening I received this message from my Spanish sister: “Christmas Card Delivery. Please pass it on to all your loved ones. Send it back to me. Thanks.” It was accompanied by a mini greetings card video which I declined to open, such a Scrooge-like misery am I. The thing is, my sister has already sent us an actual card, a proper one, one you can stand up somewhere. So why does she feel the need to send me electronic nonsense?

I feel the same aversion to the social media posts along the lines of “I am trying to find out who my real friends are. If you are a genuine friend, you will ‘like’ this message.” I ignore them as well. They are almost as annoying as the posts that say, “Cleaned the house!” or late in the evening, “Off to bed. Signing off now!” as if we were all hanging on their every move.

And yes, I do recognise that such criticisms are perhaps a little hypocritical from someone who outs her random thoughts into a blog almost every day. But that’s just the way it is.

Okay! Christmas comments.

I just read this:

“Wired magazine has shared the “science of decorating the perfect Christmas tree”, including the ideal bauble ratio: about 6.2 baubles to each foot (30.4cm) of tree. Smaller trees will need fewer. About 100 fairy lights to one foot of tree is said to be “a very standard rule in the Christmas tree industry”.” So there are rules to tree decorating, are there?

The writer, who remembered, as do I, having actual candles on the tree when he was a child, went on a little further into his article:

“What about decorating Christmas trees now, though – what’s hot? “There’s a move this year towards more pastel colours – teal, and raspberry, plum and pale pink,” says Helene Webb, who offers a bespoke luxury Christmas decorating service; she also mentions peacock feathers. But most people still choose red, gold and silver, with warm white lights. (She’s talking about ones you plug in, not light with a match.)”

Fashions in trees? Whatever next?

Mine is randomly decorated with bauble collected over the years. No colour co-ordination at all. Our two-and-a-bit year old granddaughter has very carefully examined almost everything on the tree this morning, being very gentle and holding the hand of a dangly metal snowman. You can’t do that with designer trees.

And how about this? People are reportedly charging their families for Christmas dinner. The typical price is £30 a head. Maybe I could make a profit!

Here are some statistics:

last Christmas, the average UK family spent £225 on food and drink;

we eat on average 6,000 calories on Christmas Day;

one woman interviewed calculated she spent £500 feeding her family Christmas Dinner.

It’s a good job it comes just once a year!

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