Very few of us actually enjoy shopping, least of all me, and of all places a petrol station has to be the worst. The new dynamic of shopping for groceries whilst filling the tank up has always been a bit alien to me, although beginning to appreciate the concept, so much so, I also shop at one of these “Express” type places regardless of my need for fuel. And it was on such an occasion that I encountered a very unpleasant individual, and the events of a few seconds screamed volumes of the kind of people who are employed to deal with the public.
Foolishly, I had chosen a time in the afternoon that is dedicated to Mums up and down the country to collect their offspring, and although I am fully aware that many do this on foot, you can not argue that our roads fill substantially during this period, and I make no jokes for the need of a 4×4 vehicle at all.
As with most forecourts, the general flow leads you to a pump, although you can normally bypass the area and proceed to the parking spaces for the supermarket, while preforming this manoeuvre I saw an opportunity to park in a soon to be vacant plot in an otherwise busy car park. Pausing briefly to allow a young mother and small child to reverse and leave the space, my attention was drawn to a heckle of abuse aimed in my direction. For it was completely without my knowledge that I had intentionally caused the momentary delay of someone who had more rights on the highway than a lowly shopper, The foul mouthed torrent of abuse was coming from a van emblazoned with company name and logo, and from it’s drivers window the occupier was publicly sharing their displeasure in front of an audience of parents and school aged children, I was further surprised that the culprit was a woman, who could have quite possibly bore children of her own years previously.
Although I initially calmly sailed through the mire of English vocabulary, I was aghast at the thought that this person was not only representing her employer sat in the van, but was totally unashamed of her actions and said employer was equally unsurprised when I phoned to report it, to this end, shame on them!
Although my door is adorned with signs asking not to be included in the myriad of junk mail that is frequently on offer, I often still get it, and if I am about at the time, I remind those responsible that I do not care for this particular type of letterbox invasion.
Generally, I am met with a lethargic response in a accent of foreign shores, and sometimes squeeze an apathetic apology from the unsuspecting canvasser. But today that all changed when I received a foul mouthed tirade from someone spreading the news of a pizza shop under new management.
This time when I objected, I was met with some objectionable behaviour and what appeared to be the only English language our European friend knew and could pronounce, which was clearly not taught at a citizen class at evening school. Quite astounded I withdrew and returned indoors to review my options in response to this assault on my ears, the council, although sympathetic, could do little, the police recorded an incident under the public order act, but I expect to hear no more, and it was at this point I realised the enormity of this guys actions.
It had suddenly occurred to me that because of this attitude his whole day was a waste of time, no amount of posting leaflets will give you a return on bad manners, and for every shiny mailshot distributed there will be ten families that will hear from word and mouth of the poor staff choices made by this apparent fledgling company.
Two hours, yes 2 painful hours, that is what it has taken me to travel my usual six miles into work for my night-shift. An area that relies on the motorway to free up local traffic burst in to complete chaos when it was closed for the best part of the day and night.
My emotions were thrown into survival mode, so while creeping along at a snails pace, planning to circumnavigate the countryside in order to be smarter than the guy behind me, I began taking stock of any supplies I may have in my temporary home, mints, chocolate or any liquid available since the last event? Hoping my full bladder holds out, whilst looking for any utensil that would make an emergency potty and realising it would be a very public affair had I have to use it. Not to mention my ageing car and the new smells and noises coming from it, praying all the time that I will be saved the humiliation of a steaming or smoky breakdown.
And in the ongoing furore that resembled a scene from the pages of history and the evacuation of a large City, you are reminded that a life has been lost in the carnage that preceded, and that I was able to return home or work, a little late, but alive.
When you look back to the 1950’s and 60’s it would be impossible to imagine that our economy today could sustain such a lifestyle, with station masters on train platforms, a Matron on every hospital ward and Police houses dotted around our countryside, of course then we lived in a nationalised Britain, but is that why we suffer today?
Streamlining and consolidation are words that we have come to define as cuts, and these are to be made on the only industries that remain in the public domain, health, education and policing, all else was sold to private companies in order streamline and consolidate our transport system, electricity, gas and water, leaving us with a pot full of money, but no revenue.
And the money has gone and we are left to pick up the cost of privatisation, whilst supporting those very companies with tax breaks and other subsidies. So now you would be hard pressed to find a porter on a platform, a Matron in ten wards and the police have to move in to fire stations or supermarket broom cupboards to save money, while boardrooms get more crowded.
Perhaps a simplistic view, but, maybe that is what is needed, to take a step back and look at our situation from a child’s perspective, we may discover a few answers or at least realise you have to work from the top first.
We have all been a victim of bullying at one stage or another, even if you have been a bully, and the feeling is not a pleasant one. Believing yourself to be alone, constantly vulnerable and generally down are some of the emotions that are felt at this time, despite the well meaning intentions of others.
So I find astonishing that a school is reluctant to use its authority and stamp this abhorrent behaviour out as soon as it can, whilst it can, for they are the creators of adults, along with the sometimes luck lustre parents. The very fabric of society is nurtured and formed in this establishment, so we should expect more in the way that these institutions are morally run.
To my amazement the local school also has a different uniform code and incentive scheme for those who deem to disrupt classrooms and abuse teachers, by allowing them extra benefits from a lenient administration, whilst the more studious are berated for the most trivial of reasons in order to maintain standards. And while I am fully aware of the difficulties of raising children, some parents should hang their heads and be made to pay for what ultimately costs the rest of us, maybe hitting their pockets would change a few attitudes.
Every child has a right to an education, and to receive it in a decent protected environment away from the scourge of those that make it difficult or uncomfortable.
A local public house with a cult following is on the way to enjoying a second wind after it has undergone a change of management and refurbishment. The Frog And Frigate has graced Southampton with it’s back to basics style for decades, and by the looks of things, will continue to entertain the children and Grandchildren of many customers far and wide.
Dancing on the tables back in the dark days of smoking.
Indeed, I was one such customer that visited this venue as a single man in the mid eighties and it was quite an eye opener. Weighed down with £8 in my pocket, I entered the “Frog” for the first time and nothing had prepared me for just how basic this place was as I believe still is. The immediate thing you noticed as you opened the heavily painted and layered bar door was the fresh sawdust laying on the floor, as this was early evening at a time of tighter licensing laws. Still light outside and only a few patrons in this rough creaky floorboard, rustic bar top and more or less empty shell, you were able to gather your bearings and decide on the nights tipple which was very limited and needed to be in a bottle, as it felt rather safer than the local grog, although I’m sure it was enjoyed by many. Finding a seat was relatively easy so early on, so I took a table with my friends as we decided whether this place was for us, there really was no general appearance of the other customers as they filled the single bar at a rapid rate. A chap with a guitar appeared to be setting up to begin to sing, and as he started to strum, he was taking requests from a willing audience, although had no real genre, and seemed happier for it.
Within a short amount of time the floor could not be seen and a sea of heads were bobbing up and down like a continuous wave, as the small room got smaller, hotter and smokier, the one man band never seemed to stop and was supported by the constant humming and roaring of the chanting crowd, who by this time were dancing on the tables in what was accepted and almost necessary situation. Walking to the gents over a path of feet, both male and female, without offending a single soul.
On leaving the venue with money still left over for the last bus home, we could hardly believe that places still existed, and it is still enjoying this almost unique atmospheric drinking experience.
It has been proposed that the unused portion of London’s historic underground railway system known as the tube would become an area that cyclists could ride around the capital in relative safety. An idea to revitalise an area not in use and to improve a congested road network you may think, but is this the start of human subterranean living that we have seen in so many Hollywood films?
Horror, action, mystic or romantic, most of us have read or seen a story such as this and maybe that is enough to forget such a scheme before it has a chance to be fabricated into a world missing natural light and fresh air for those who choose to use it.
Any solution to a problem creates another, and I assume that wherever a community exists so will the social negatives, such as crime and the rest of poor human behaviour will have to be regulated, perhaps by Ninja turtles.