I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. I’m talking about those food labels that state “Use By”. They seem to be on all food packages these days. I don’t mean the “Best Before” date, which people are beginning to realise are one of the biggest cons ever. No it’s the date by which foodstuffs must be consumed by. I cannot get my head around the idea that at 1 minute to midnight, the food is safe to eat but then 1 minute after midnight the food must not be consumed, and must be thrown away.
There does seem to be a trend recently that is moving away from “Use By” being the ultimate usage date. Some experts (as some call themselves) are now advising a “Look, Smell, Taste” approach to food. If it looks, smells and tastes ok then it probably is safe. Although this approach comes with a warning for people with, in their words “...a delicate constitution…” that they should stick to the said date. This new ‘advice’ comes after the scenes of vast amounts of food being sent to landfill, just because of that date, whilst many are having to use foodbanks just to get by.
So why a con? Well how do you get customers to buy more of your produce? One way is to tell them that their purchase cannot be eaten after a certain date. Where is the scientific evidence for this date, considering all the additives that are used in most foodstuff these days? This happened with the Best Before” date that we see on food. People are now beginning to realise that this is only a recommendation and that the foodstuff is perfectly safe still. A con!
It was that time of year again, when my car needed a service and it’s MOT. We have been using the same garage since we bought the cars. Minstergate at York was the dealership that we bought both my car and my sons car. They have treated us well over the years and it’s a place we have some trust in. What we tend to do, is to drop both cars off in the morning, then get the ‘Park & Ride’ bus into York for the day. It is something we have done now for 7 years.
Both cars were dropped off at 10:00 and we set off for the 15 minute walk to the ‘Park & Ride’. The company used to give us a lift to the ‘P&R’ but with the virus, that has stopped for the time being. But it was dry and there was a footpath so not an unpleasant short walk. The only hindrance was the occasional cyclist who didn’t seem to care when they passed pedestrians.
The journey into York was okay. People were wearing their face coverings and keeping apart, except for the obvious family groups. We got off the bus and began to wander around the city. The idea was that we would look in a few shops, the go for lunch (we had booked a table at Ask Italian) then look at a few more shops before heading back the the garage.
This is where I began to feel a little uncomfortable!
The shops were mostly fine. Limiting the number of customers when busy, with people keeping their distance. I say ‘mostly’, it was the children that were the problem. They just didn’t seem to care where they walked. Of course there was the odd customer or two that did not seem to grasp how to wear a face covering. But you get them everywhere. The restaurant was good. Table numbers were limited and well spaced. They were all sanitised when a customer left and they seemed to have got the place as pretty well as safe as they could.
No, the place I felt most uncomfortable was in the streets. The whole idea of ‘social distancing‘ seemed to alien to most people. People would pass you very closely or walk up behind. One person got so close that I could almost feel his breathe on the back of my neck. I could actually hear the person he was talking to on his mobile phone. It was not a nice experience. Although, the place I expected to be the worst, was realistically the safest part of the city centre. That was the outside market. Almost everyone was doing what they should do. Again it was children that seemed to be the issue.
So not the best visit to York I have had. Here’s hoping the next time will be better!
You may be aware that I work part-time in a local café. One of the many features of this café, is their free Wi-Fi. The access code is displayed for anyone to use if you know where to look. Most customers will use the Wi-Fi for what it is there for i.e. so they can check their emails or show someone pictures on their phone, that kind of thing. However, there is an increasing number of customers that seem to visit the café with the sole purpose of accessing the the free internet.
On Tuesday this week, I arrived at work around 10:20, which is my usual time and noticed a customer sat at a 4 seater table. He had his laptop open and was also using his phone. I also noticed he was wearing a pair of headphones and one of those ‘cheek mikes’ that seem to be the norm these days. I hovered around his table for a few seconds before entering the kitchen and realised that he was conducting some kind of interview with somebody. Over the course of the next couple of hours, he still seemed to be talking to someone and on a couple of occasions, he got quite animated. He eventually left at around 12:45, or at least that’s when I noticed he had gone. From what I could see, he had drunk one cup of coffee and who knows how many glasses of free water. I mentioned to the chef that he had gone and he explained that he had been sat at the table since about 09:00. Just one cup of coffee!! The table staff have been told not to move people on, but to keep asking if they require anything else. They call it ‘good customer service’. But what about the ‘good customer service’ for the customers who cannot get a seat?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting free Wi-Fi in places I visit, but come on … lets not abuse it.
When I say packaging, I mean excess packaging. Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, Mrs H needed to buy some baked beans. We have to get a branded type, as R*** will only eat a certain brand. As this is his mainstay food source, we tend to go through a lots of baked beans. So we usually look for multi-packs or special offers. The ‘Buy 2 – Get 1 Free’ type of offers. Now where I have a problem, is the multi-pack system. Why is there a need to wrap the four/six tins in a sheet of polythene? Can the store not say something like “Six tins for the price of 4”, instead of wrapping six tins and making ‘2 Free"’ on the packaging? Or just mark it up on the shelf, say One tin = 51p, Four tins £1.94? I’m sure the customers are not so stupid as not to able to work out which is cheapest! It would save on the need for the polythene wrapper, which in my experience is not usually recyclable. I did ask the manager at one store why they wrapped multi-packs, and was told “It is to make it easier for the customer pick up!” i will leave you to your own opinions on that statement
I recently had a problem with Twitter. For the past three months I have been using an app, on my smartphone to send multiple tweets using the extremely popular #FF or #FollowFriday hash tags. The app quite simply pulls up a list of all the people that follow you, and the app then tweets a message followed by #FF, to all in that list. Well, as I mentioned, I have been doing this regularly for the past three months, without any problems at all. Then on this Friday past, I used the app as usual. When I came to login at home, I found that my account had been suspended! I quickly emailed Twitter support, and was told that “I had abused the @reply system, by sending large amounts of unsolicited messages.” The account was then ‘unsuspended’ and, after a few hours, I could carry on as normal. They really annoying thing was that the support call was closed, and I was unable to explain what had happened. I am now considering my options with Twitter. I enjoy using it, and enjoy the connections I have made using it, but if it is starting to get more restrictive, then it may have to go.
Well moving to the new desk went as well as could be expected. Most people seem to have accepted the fact that I need a base to work from. I think the main issue could be, that I am sharing a room with my manager. I could be perceived as being a spy in the camp. Also in the same room is the person to whom I was supposed to be partnering in this job. However, she is working on other things for the service head, and could also be seen as a spy. Devious people, these council office types.
I’ve decided to push forward with the writing again. I joined an online group, and posted my initial short story,The Well, warts and all. I have had two favourable comments, with more advice on how to expand and develop the idea. So I’m looking at that again. I’m toying with the idea of setting the tale in an old windmill. That should open the scope a little more. However I need to find a way of incorporating the well back into the story (I nearly typed narrative there …… I have no idea why) and am thinking that there could be some kind of outhouse that may have been built over the old well. That is going to take some thinking about. I have also been toying around in my head, how to make it into a play, but that is a long way off yet, and I don’t know how popular a one person play would be.
I have also started writing a short story about someone that works on a computer helpdesk. I’m not too sure what narrative mode to use. I have started in first person mode, but not too sure if it will be the right one for the story. Basically, you get to hear what is happening in the helpdesk call centre, but you only get to hear the customers, when the helpdesk people repeat things back. This may not work as I hope, and I may have to change the narrative mode to third person. Early days yet.
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