Friday, 4 February 2022

Eyesight. Price rises. Relative values. Dressing up. Language matters.

Today we went to have our eyes tested. Just before the world went crazy I had had a reminder that I was due for an eye test. Phil has had a number of reminders just recently but Boots’ opticians appeared to have forgotten about me. For at least two weeks we’ve been reminding each other to phone up and arrange an appointment. We finally achieved that target earlier this week. Today was the appointed day. Then on Wednesday granddaughter number 2, in her role as GMPTE employee, confirmed that another bus drivers’ strike was scheduled to today! 

We went through complicated arrangements so that we could meet our daughter in Uppermill, after her youngest had finished his toddlers’ music group Boomting, and then she could give us a lift to Oldham centre. Then at the last minute yesterday came the news that the strike was cancelled. An agreement of sorts had been reached. Hurrah! 

So off we went on the bus this morning. We had our eyes photographed - well, the back of our eyes. We were subjected to puffs of air blown onto our eyeballs. Lights were shone into them and eventually we got to read the letter chart. However did we manage back in the old days when we just read the chart that they brought to our junior schools? Our eyes have made no significant change - it’s good to know that. I’d even selected a nice new trendy pair of frames but it was not to be. Phil had ordered a replacement pair for the spare pair he broke a while ago. At a pinch I could manage without, although reading would occasionally be difficult, but ai suspect Phil would be blind as a bat without his. He needs a spare. So a new pair was ordered.  

Eye tests over and done with, we picked up a few bits and pieces from Sainsbury’s in the town centre and then made our way homewards, avoiding all the weather nasties apart from a bit of hail in the walk from the bus stop to home. Our daughter, on the other hand, tells me she has been caught out twice in heavy, sleety downpours. 

The weather seems especially wintery and nasty today. But it is February, after all. And at least we can afford to heat our home and not feel too stressed by price rises. They were interviewing people for the radio news last night, asking for opinions of the various price rises. I was mildly amused to hear one gentleman explain that he and his wife, in their 70s, like Phil and me, were finding themselves stretched a little bit. He described themselves as living in an “ordinary, modest, four bedroom, detached house”. (Oh, that everyone could have such modest accommodation!) He thought they might have to downsize soon! I guess everything is relative. 

Between price rises, bits of scandal and advisors leaving the Prime Minister, we are certainly living through interesting times. Here’s somebody’s post on social media this morning: 


“Laura Kuenssberg, wants you to know that the 50% energy price rise, the level of inflation, covid, slurring Kier Starmer, partygate, etc, etc, is making things 'choppy' for the government but that we shouldn't ignore what they are doing for our benefit. Well no mention of Brexit here, quelle surprise. Anyway, thanks Laura, for telling me the utter disaster that is the UK today (as distinct from the reality I knew in 2016) is now going to get 'choppy'. There was me thinking it was already bloody awful. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Boris' Britain. But don't worry, it's just a bit 'choppy'.”

That’s without wondering about what’s going on in Ukraine!

To cheer us all up we’ve been treated to the sight of Mr Johnson driving a Blackpool tram. He does like to be seen doing “man of the people” stuff, driving public transport vehicles, pulling pints and so on. He seems to yearn to wear a hard hat and a hi-vis jacket. Am I wrong to see an echo of Queen Marie Antoinette playing at being a country shepherdess? 

The London Economic gave us this: 

“Boris Johnson has been slammed for flying to Blackpool on a private jet – when he could have caught a three-hour train instead.

The prime minister’s 40-minute flight north left London Stansted at around 10.46 on Friday morning, meaning he would have had to leave Downing Street around 9am to catch his plane.

But, with a service leaving London Euston for Blackpool at 9.16am, eagle-eyed reporters suggested he only arrived at his destination around 50 minutes earlier than if he had taken the train.”

There you go. Maybe arriving by jet makes him feel presidential.

And, finally, a linguistic comment. I read that Asturias would like their regional language to become the fifth official language of Spain. No, I’m not getting into another rant, or even discussion, about whether it is a language or a dialect. I’d just like to include this bit from the article:

“Just how many of Asturias’ one million inhabitants speak Asturian daily is a moot point. Any Spanish speaker would find it easy to understand.

While it has grammatical differences, many common verbs are either the same or vary only slightly: hacer (to do or make) is facer in Asturian; hablar (to talk) is falar. Many nouns differ only by a letter: harina (flour) is farina in Asturian; gato (cat) is gatu.”

I’d agree easily with the first sentence. The second is doubtful, in my opinion, judging by how many only Castilian-speaking Galicians I have come across over the last 14 to 15 years who tell me how hard it is to understand “gallego”, their own local language. As a Castilian-speaking, butb one who also knows French and Italian, I’ve always found it relatively easy to understand, a bit like broken Spanish.  And the examples of Asturiano given in the earlier paragraph could just as easily be gallego. Variations on a theme, I guess.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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