Archive for March 2014

New candidate for Room 101

In this age of advanced technology, you’d think it was possible to eliminate sticky labels that can’t be removed without leaving a gooey mess behind.

Clearly, it isn’t.

I volunteer at the Oxfam shop in Bangor each week, and I’ve been assigned to sorting books, CDs, DVDs, games and the like. A huge proportion of these come in with price labels, special offer stickers and any number of other self-adhesive tags that seem to have been fused to the case or cover with an adhesive that could stick anything to anything else. For ever.

These all have to be removed before the item is put out into the shop, and I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve had to spend scraping these bastard things off, and removing the residue with white spirit.

So – a heartfelt plea to producers of sticky labels: this is 2014. For the sake of my sanity, PLEASE make your labels peelable.

It’s not a lot to ask. Is it?

Lifelong Learning

Three months in to our relationship with Jake, and the education continues. More lessons have been learned, and I have no doubt that more will follow. To whit:

1. The patience required to train a dog who has not received the appropriate guidance about his manners as a puppy increases exponentially with age. The expression “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may not be absolutely true, but it does have a basis in truth.

Jake’s propensity for pulling on the lead when out walking is quite impressive, but for the continued well-being of my shoulders, it’s got to stop. Having sought the guidance of a professional dog behaviourist, he’s showing some signs of improvement, bordering on co-operation, but there’s still some way to go.

2. His aggression towards other dogs is really to do with his assuming responsibility when a potential conflict – however slight – arises. Even if the other dog is hundreds of yards away and not acting aggressively, his full attention is focused on it, until the perceived danger is gone. I have learned that it’s up to me to intercede and impose myself as the one who is taking responsibility for managing the “threat”, not Jake.

These, and other, behavioural issues are signalled by Jake’s body language. I need to learn to interpret the signals and to take control in a way that Jake understands. Treating Jake simply as a child, rather than being the dominant member of a pack is not an easy thing to achieve, because it isn’t a normal relationship for humans (well, not all humans, anyway…)

3. The big lesson arising from 1. and 2. is – patience and consistency. Changing the behaviours will take time; it won’t happen overnight. Wish me luck!

and finally…

4. Springer Spaniels can shed hair like no other living thing known to man! My vacuum cleaner is working overtime, and each time it gathers enough fur to knit a jumper with. It’s seemingly infinite. The really galling thing is that it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the coverage of his body – he’s still got total coverage. When I lost hair, it went for good and the evidence is there on my cranium for all to see. Or rather, it isn’t.

Next time I write about Jake’s progress, I hope to be able to report great progress with his manners. Watch this space.

Room 101

Now that I’m over 60, I can legitimately exercise my right to indulge in the tyranny of old age. I can barge to the front of a bus queue, elbows flailing, with impunity. I may not have actually fought in any wars**, (although I was in the Cubs for a week when I was about seven) but it won’t necessarily stop me claiming that I did.

Anyway, I digress.

As part of my tyranny, I am setting up my own Room 101, to enable me to dispatch all of the trappings of the modern world that, as a senior citizen, I find irksome. I’m not saying I’ll be reasonable about it, I’m just casting a jaundiced eye.

I’m going to start modestly, by consigning bad grammar and sheer linguistic ineptitude into Room 101.

Now, I’m not claiming my own perfection, here; far from it. The idea of being a Grammar Nazi is also vaguely disquieting, but when I look at the standards of written communication, especially on social media, it makes me apoplectic and sad in equal measure.

For example, I am a member of a Facebook group that enables members to give and receive items, free of charge. Very noble, you might think. And you’d be right, except that many (and I don’t mean just a few – it’s the majority) seem to have been written by people who never went to school.

Here are just a few typical examples:

Hi,me n my partner are in neesd of a microwave,washer n kettle if anyone can help,were in caernarfon,thanks

Can I ask please has anybody got any lady clothes size 14 asking has lost lot weight need loose more don’t won’t to get new yet till got to my goel thank you so much for reading I live in pensarn thank you again

My cuzun has recently moved into his first flat but has hardly anything if anyone has any furniture or bits n bots it would be greatfully apriciated tia old colwyn

These are by no means the exceptions, they are close to the norm.

The education system in the UK isn’t perfect, for sure, but there is a responsibility upon its clients to, you know, try? Smartphones with their auto-complete are just making matters worse.

Our language skills are regressing. It may not be long before we can only communicate in a series of grunts, albeit transmitted on really sophisticated electronic devices.

So, to Room 101 with bad grammar and linguistic ineptitude.

** A fact for which I am grateful beyond words.