Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please put a penny......and so on......What is this all about???? Yes, I know – Baby Jesus and all that. But all I can see is people hurrying and scurrying around, looking frazzled – and pushing shopping trolleys absolutely laden with – with what? Mostly crap! Oh, I am cynical! But I had a trip to a shopping centre (on Sunday! Sunday !! Remember when shops weren’t allowed to open on Sundays?) Well, I went to the shops, because I wanted to buy my daughter some candles. I made sure I was there by 9am, so that I would avoid the crowds.....but, not so! People were queuing up outside shops - and there was a long line ready for Santa photos (!) and it was awful! By the time I found the candles (candle holders, actually) there were hundreds of people swarming all over the place and cars looking for parking spots...and......... aarrgghh!!
Well, that’s Christmas here – more or less.
While I’m doing a little whinge, I would like to take this opportunity to ask – as are many other Australians asking – why are we hearing and singing Christmas songs such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland”? It’s 30 degrees Celsius here today and it’s Christmas Eve.
Where is all the snow? Most of us are planning trips to the beach for some swimming and surfing and other activities to cool us down.
The other night I suffered through some fairly ordinary performances on a Christmas Carol local show that was airing on television.
There was Santa Claus, dressed for the snow (poor bloke must have been sweating bucket loads) and a few mediocre musicians, but I knew a talented singer was to appear soon, so I waited for Dami Im, who has a beautiful voice – trained for opera but also more than competent at singing modern songs. I thought she may sing a Christmas carol or some lovely appropriate Christmas song. As she sat at the piano (yes, she also plays piano extremely well) I waited to see what delightful song she had chosen.
And then she started: “Chestnuts roasting by an open fire….”
I turned off the tv.
Anyway, there are my two main whinges for the Christmas season: Consumerism and inappropriate snow.
So sorry that I am complaining.
There is nothing for me to really complain about. I will have a lovely Christmas Day, with family members. Those who are not here with me will either phone or use the magic of ‘Face Time’ to connect.
It’s been a sad time for many over the past year and especially the past week or so. And it has been a truly miserable time for asylum seekers.
Australia is not immune from disaster or terror and our current government is showing us just how cruel those in power can be towards the weak and vulnerable, so it’s not always a happy place.
However, as for me, I cannot - and must not - complain.
I live in one of the best countries in the world and have a loving family.
I am in need of nothing and for that I give thanks.
I wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a very happy, healthy and safe 2015.
There’s something wrong here.
This is a picture of the floral tributes left in remembrance of the two people (actually three, including the gunman) who lost their lives in the horrific siege that took place in Sydney two days ago.
Photos of the escaping hostages and news of the event were shown all around the world. It was a horrendous occurrence and my heart aches for the families of the two hostages who were killed. I am also greatly concerned for the other hostages whose lives will be forever affected by this awful and hatred-filled attack on innocent civilians.
And, speaking of ‘innocent civilians’, what more fitting description could be made for small school children?
There were over 130 (130!) children massacred in their classrooms in Pakistan yesterday. It was the work of the Taliban – for what obscure and obscene reason, who knows.
130 (and more) children were shot and murdered in the school which should have been a safe place for them to be. The enormity of the numbers - and the enormity of the act - is too vast to comprehend.
(At least one child kept alive by lying in amongst the dead bodies of her classmates, pretending to be dead; what an ordeal!)
But, while we, here in Australia and indeed, across the globe, mourn ‘our’ two dead civilians – killed in a usually peaceful and friendly coffee place - the news of the 130 children massacred in Pakistan takes second – or even third – place in local news reports.
What is a life worth? Is there a difference in life-worthiness depending on where the person lives?
I know there is a scale of impact that starts at ‘was the person a relative?’ ‘was the person a neighbour?’ to ‘was the person a resident of your town?’ onwards to ‘was the person a fellow countryman?’
So, for the death of a relative or near neighbour the grieving is greatest and for a person living in an unfamiliar and far away country it is least.
But 130 children?
Where are the floral tributes for them?
Where are the memorial services in places other than their home towns?
There have been tributes. See a picture on my next blog post.
If there’s a language term that really annoys me, it’s the ‘closure’ expression. People cannot seem to adequately deal with something unless it leads to some sort of ‘closure’.
What the heck is closure? And why do we have to have it after every situation that affects us…..or should I say after every situation that ‘impacts’ us….as the word ‘impact’ seems to have overtaken the simpler word, ‘affect’.
Then we have all these ‘issues’; everything ends up an issue.
So, here I have found – not a reason for this aberration of the language of need – but at least an agreement.
In Don Watson’s small book, ‘On Indignation’, he sums it up beautifully – as seen in the page reproduced here. He attributes all these ‘issues’ and ‘closures’ and ‘moving ons’ (and here I would include, the ‘going forwards’) as ‘fetishist difficulty’.
And, yes, it seems as if we have made – and do make – a fetish out of everything we come across in our daily lives.
His reference to the grandfather’s shovel handle is aimed at the theory that we have all these issues and, indeed, fetishes, because life is no longer simple.
Is this the case?
And do we simply NOT wish life to be simple any more?
Would we rather have issues that impact us and for which we have to seek closure, before we are able to move on? (going forward).
Give me a broken shovel handle any day.
(Mind you, I would have no idea how to fix it, which may create and issue!)
Christmas Day has come and everyone is sitting around, ready to begin the Christmas feast.
“Time to pull the crackers!” is called and everyone groans in response – not only at the thought of having to wear a ridiculously silly paper hat, but it’s time to read out the truly dreadful jokes that pop out of the crackers (or ‘bon-bons’ as some prefer to call them).
Well “jokes” is hardly the correct description. Neither is “riddles”, as they are usually of the weakest, non-funny type of humour imaginable.
But, some say that it is part of the Christmas Day tradition;
the collective moaning after each “joke’ is heard.
What do you think?
Here are some samples:
Q: What do you call a man with a seagull on his head?
Q: Where do you take a sick horse?
Q: What is the most popular wine at Christmas? (whine)
A: Do we have to eat all these Brussels sprouts? (obviously British joke)
Q: Who embarrasses everyone at the Xmas party?
Q: What do you call a snowman in the Sahara desert?
Q: Who is Santa’s favourite singer?
A: Elfish Presley.
Q; What do they sing at a snowman's birthday party?
A: Freeze a jolly good fellow
Q: Why does Santa have three gardens?
A: So he can 'ho ho ho'!
Q: Knock, knock
A: Who's there?
Q: Arthur who?
A: Arthur any mince pies left?
Q: My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. (not really a question)
A: He was pulled in by a strong current (currant).
Q: Why did Santa's helper see the doctor?
A: Because he had a low "elf" esteem!
Q: What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar?
A: He got 25 days!
Q: What kind of motorbike does Santa ride?
A: A Holly Davidson!
Q: What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?
A: A Christmas Quacker!
Q: What is the best Christmas present in the world?
A: A broken drum, you just can't beat it!
Q: Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas?
A: Santa Jaws
Q: What do Santa's little helpers learn at school?
A: The elf-abet!
Q: What did Santa say to the smoker?
A: Please don't smoke, it's bad for my elf!
Q: What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees?
Q: Why are Christmas trees so bad at sewing?
A: They always drop their needles!
Q; Did Rudolph go to school?
A: No. He was Elf-taught!
Q: Why did the turkey join the band?
A: Because it had the drumsticks!
Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Q: What do snowmen wear on their heads?
A: Ice caps!
Q; How do snowmen get around?
A: They ride an icicle!
Q: What do you call a cat in the desert?
A: Sandy Claws!
Q: What does Santa do with fat elves?
A: He sends them to an Elf Farm!
Q: What did Adam say to his wife on the day before Christmas?
A: It's Christmas, Eve!
Q: How many letters are in the Christmas alphabet?
A: 25. There’s "no EL"!
Q: What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?
Q: What did the beaver say to the Christmas Tree?
A: Nice gnawing you!
Q: What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?
A: Jingle Smells!
Q: What's green, covered in tinsel and goes ribbet ribbet?
Q: Which famous playwright was terrified of Christmas?
A: Noël Coward!
Q: What did the stamp say to the Christmas card?
A: Stick with me and we'll go places!
Q: Why did no one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay?
A: Because they were two deer!
Q: How did Mary and Joseph know that Jesus was 7lb 6oz when he was born?
A: They had a weigh in a manger!
Q: Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars
A: Because their days are numbered.
Some slightly (only slightly) better ones…………
Q: How did Scrooge win the football game?
A: The ghost of Christmas passed!
Q: How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?
A: One that's deep pan, crisp and even!
Q: Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?
A: A mince spy!
Q: What carol is heard in the desert?
A: O camel ye faithful!
Q: What do angry mice send to each other at Christmas?
A: Cross Mouse Cards!
Q: What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
A: Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!
Well, now you are prepared. You have been forewarned and are readying your best moaning comment – or perhaps this list will enable you to provide an answer to a joke that is read out at your celebration dinner.
How clever will that make you feel?
Not? ☺ ☺ Happy Christmas!
Yes, another whinge from me about the self checkouts at the supermarkets. I know it’s a subject I’ve banged on about before, but my hackles rose the other day when I saw a sign over the Woolworths self checkout thing that said, ‘this check-out is under video surveillance’.
I was going to use it, but just swore and stormed off towards a ‘manned’ checkout instead. No, I was not going to cheat, I was just incensed!
So, the supermarkets have saved so much money by not employing staff that they are able to afford multiple computerised self checkouts and now have set up video surveillance cameras at each one!
Imagine how much money they must be making to afford all this technology.
I started researching the topic to check any claims that the money saved justified this expenditure and discovered that not only is it obviously affordable, but they (the supermarkets) manage to (at the same time) absorb the comparative small losses they incur when customers are less than honest. But, as the latest sign attests, that will not be accepted for long.
And, what happens when someone does try to cheat – or even unwittingly messes up the scanning outcome?
I was once ‘swooped upon’ by a ‘helper’ at the self serve thing when I inadvertently dropped a second packet of chewing gum in my bag before it had scanned. (It was only the second time I had used the damn things). I was buying gum for the grandsons and scanned and popped in one packet, then (thought I had) scanned the second one and dropped it into the bag. Something stopped the computer thing from continuing and I had no idea what was wrong, when up swooped the store ‘helper’ who grabbed stuff from my bag and victoriously held up the un-scanned gum. She then scanned and bagged my other items, talking me through it as if I were an imbecile – and a corrupt one as well!
Yesterday I found online articles quoting:
Australia's big supermarket chains say they are ''closely monitoring'' customers as they scan and bag their own groceries after a British study found that hundreds of millions of pounds were being lost at self-service tills.
Oh, how sad!
A Woolworths spokeswoman said, "While we trust that most of our customers do the right thing, we do have a number of loss prevention methods in place at every Woolworths supermarket including surveillance cameras, plain-clothed security officers, security gates and staff monitoring all check-out areas," she said.
Note the mention of ‘prevention methods’, ‘security officers’ and ‘monitoring’. (All customers treated as possible ‘crooks’)
Again, how sad for these poor supermarket giants that they have to resort to such tactics!
I found a few people who had decided to fight back (so to speak) and no, I’m not sure if I consider it REALLY stealing. I think that most supermarkets already ‘steal’ enough from us.
Here are a few comments and admissions I liked:
I mistake prawns from the deli for carrots.
Everything is broccoli!
Unwashed potatoes! Unwashed potatoes for everything.
I don't think stealing some garlic or telling the machine it’s a potato when you are buying a mango is going to change anything.
In my defense, I don't ever remember signing the employment contract with Coles.
I'd rather see a pimple faced youth employed than see a row of these bastard machines any day.
From NSW regional newspaper::
Study spokesman revealed:
“I understand in 12 months an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion walks out of stores across Australia (without payment),”
A spokesman for Woolworths said: “The vast majority of customers do the right thing. Our message to the small minority of would-be shoplifters is simple – don’t do it. We’re closely monitoring these checkouts, we adapt our systems to new shoplifting methods and we will catch you if you do the wrong thing.” (My emphasis).
BUT, some good news:
Marketing manager for the Cavallaro IGA group, Andy Pecora, said Carlo’s IGA in Tamworth did not use self-service checkouts because it was a small retailer. “Our focus is on making sure that we have the right services in place in our stores – a big part is giving back to our community,” Mr Pecora said.
“Self-service checkouts take away the ability to do that, when we could be employing someone to do the job.” (Good on you, IGA)
As for the BIG supermarkets, as someone said:
They've gotta be saving more in labour than they're losing in shrinkage or they wouldn't be doing this.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.