1 EAGLETON NOTES: January 2023



Tuesday 31 January 2023

A Cloud

Yesterday morning I looked out of my kitchen window early morning and saw a strange cloud. I wandered through the small conservatory to the door and took a photo with my phone.  I was busy and gave it no more thought until a bit later when I realised I had just witnessed an unusual phenomena: a Nacreous ("mother of pearl") cloud. The irony is that my SLR with a far more suitable telephoto lens was on the table within easy reach had I realised what I was witnessing. C'est la vie. For all that it was a splendid sight.

Saturday 28 January 2023

"You're Welcome"

In a recent post Bob Brague of the blog Rhymes with Plague said:

An example of slower change [in customs] is the way people respond to being told "Thank you." In my age group (the Older Than Dirt crowd), we were taught to say "You're welcome".  Around the time my children became adults, people didn't say "You're welcome" any more, and everybody was saying "No problem." Now that even my grandchildren are adults, "No problem" has fallen by the wayside. and Gen Z'ers and millennials say "Of course!"

I commented that I was never taught to respond "You're welcome".  In my view when someone says 'Thank you" no response is needed.

Bob's reply was "Not to respond to 'Thank you' strikes me as very odd indeed. It seems to indicate the feeling that the 'thank you' is well-deserved. I could be wrong, of course, but it smacks of a lack of humility. Not you, of course, but others. Other responses I used to hear often (but don't any more) include "Don't mention it" and "Not at all" and "It was nothing". The Spanish say "por nada" and the French say "Il n'y a pas de quoi"."

This is something that genuinely puzzles me. I am roughly of an age with Bob. I was brought up in a family and at schools where good manners were important and were insisted upon. However I can never recall at any stage in my life being told that a response was needed to a "Thank you."  Over the last few decades I've been well aware of the response "You're welcome" being used and, of course, when in Italy I would never dream of not responding "prego" to"grazie".

So I am genuinely very puzzled indeed. My readers come from many generations and many countries. So I would ask you all whether I am living in a bubble of ignorance and whether, particularly where the UK is concerned, my lack of a response is out of order.

Monday 23 January 2023

Waiting For Service

Today I tried to order some central heating oil. The local office of Certas Energy is in Stornoway but since Covid you can no longer pop in and order anything over the counter. You telephone Certas Energy and give your details and eventually someone will hopefully ring you back at a time when you are not half way through climbing a ladder onto the roof or some such other inconvenient moment. 

If you live on a western Scotland Island there is a good chance a great deal of your life is involved with the Country's ferry operators, Caledonian Macbrayne Ltd. At the moment residents of Lewis have the opportunity to pop into the Stornoway Port Office for tickets and bookings. That's fair enough given that it's a lifeline service and we frequently have to change booking because of cancelled mainland hospital appointments or cancelled ferries because of the weather or breakdowns. 

However it's not possible for everyone to get into the office. So they have to telephone the main booking number or use the website. This is where Calmac have absolutely excelled themselves and, in my experience of using websites they have managed a first: a waiting list to access the website. The other day this popped up in response to me trying to access the website:

It's all very well for business to do everything they possible can to streamline things and keep costs down (if they reward customers with fair prices) but it seems to me that the last person ever to be considered these days is the service user - whatever it is.

Sixty years ago I joined Liverpool Corporation. When I was given the job I was told by the Assistant Town Clerk "You have joined Liverpool Corporation. It will look after you  (and it certainly did in that it sent me to University and much more) and ALL YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER IS THAT YOUR JOB IS TO SERVE THE PUBLIC! NEVER FORGET THAT." 

I never did. I just wish that the same could be said in any organisation today.

ADDENDUM: A friend pointed out yesterday that he had started off at with, let us say 3000 people in front of him and when he went back at this expected time he was further down the queue with 800 odd more people in front of him and even more time to wait. That looks like a system in turmoil to me.

Tuesday 17 January 2023

The Time of Life

I am very fortunate. I admit it and am happy to shout it from the rooftops.

I'm not too far off the respectable age of 80. I appreciate that a good few of my readers have reached even more respectable ages but there's still a few of you youngsters knocking about too.

Despite the fact that I've got more metal and plastic inside me than many people (and have lost more parts than many people too)  I am still fortunate enough to be able to lead a very full, active and very happy life. 

Since my partial lung removal at the age of 16 and many other life-saving procedures for cancer and its effects and life-enhancing things like a replacement knee (due to the fact that I was a fencer and fencing coach at one stage of my life) everything that has been done to me has been done by our National Health Service. 

I hate to even begin to think of the cost over the decades. 

Of course if I hadn't had my lung operation (and as it was very major surgery in 1960) I wouldn't have needed the NHS for the next 70+ years because I'd not have existed much after my 16th year.

I would not be surprised if the gross income and national insurance taxes I paid over my lifetime was a net loss to the economy (although it did help pay a lot of NHS wages!).

Despite everything we hear in the news every day of the appalling situation that our NHS finds itself in, the majority of us still are net beneficiaries of the service.

So the fact that the hospital (on the Mainland) has had to delay my uretic stent replacement because there are no beds available, did not stop immediate treatment on Saturday when I presented myself to A & E (Emergency Room) in Stornoway. Longer term readers of this blog will know that I've got an unfortunate tendency to develop sepsis (because of the uretic stent) and constant UTIs. That's what I thought was developing on Saturday. As it happens the sepsis hadn't got established and after lots of tests and treatment I was out later that day feeling great again having been told that I'd done exactly the right thing and made their job easier because the sepsis hadn't got established.

I have no idea what the solution is to the problems of our increasingly aging and sickening population requiring more and more treatment but it's not just money and nor is it wholesale privatisation.

The one thing I am absolutely certain about is that I, and my generation, have lived through the best of the times Britain has seen. I think that subject may be continued at some future blog date.

Monday 2 January 2023

My Name is Graham and I'm a Phonoholic.

Saturday was a fairly seminal day for me. 

At 0400hrs (on the dot) I woke and uttered the words "Hey Siri, what time is it?" The response from the phone at the bedside was "4am".  So I know that at that moment my beloved iPhone 14 Pro Max companion was alive and well. Alive, anyway.

At 0700 I got up, collected my phone from its charging cradle and went to the bathroom to ablute. Oddly my phone screen was blank. I automatically turned it on wondering why it had gone off. It wouldn't turn on. After a few minutes came the realisation that it was absolutely dead. It had been on the charger all night so had to be fully charged. Nonetheless I put it on a cable charge in the kitchen just in case. After a while it was still dead. 

In 14 years or thereby that I've had iPhones I've never had a fault of this magnitude so was stumped.

Still in my goonie I made coffee and looked up the Apple helpline. Using the landline (an exceptionally rare occurrence - I use my mobile for everything) I phoned Apple Support. Within seconds the phone was answered by Andrew who, after checking my credentials and phone details, enquired how he could help me. I told him my nice new phone had died. Andrew then went through the usual things to check that it was attached to a cable charger (iPhones are all capable of wireless charging). We then went through the usual start up and re-boot procedures all to no effect whatsoever. To which Andrew immediately responded by arranged for another one to be sent to me.

And it was not yet light outside.

Interestingly Andrew was in Tiree. So many work from home that didn't really surprise me. I was, I thought, chatting to someone 100 miles due south as the seagull flies, EXCEPT that he added. "Australia".  Oddly I hadn't discerned an Ozzie accent. 

So I was absolutely over the moon with Apple's service.

I then set about living with the realisation that with a Sunday and Bank holiday ahead I was going to be 3 days without a phone. Okay, I have a spare iPhone I keep in the car for emergencies such as leaving My Phone at home accidentally. However that is the very least of the uses for my Phone.

It is the way I communicate daily and sometimes hourly with my friends in this country, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden etc. using Telegram, WhatsApp, Messenger, iMessage and so on. It's where we play Wordle and Scrabble. It's where I read and often write my emails.  

It is also where I can read using the Kindle app.

It operates my printers and scanner.

And, of course, it's my camera. No longer do I cart my big DSLR around with me everywhere.

I know that there are many of you are not phonoholics not least YP who would rather die with a broken leg and hypothermia somewhere on one of his beloved mountains than carry a cellphone. 

If I were a club joiner (I'm not) I would go to Mobiles Anonymous. My Name is Graham and I'm a Phonoholic.