Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tesco bans the pyjama brigade

Tesco in Cardiff has decided it doesn't want its customers coming in wearing nightwear and it has caused such a storm, it's made the national news.

I know how I feel about the subject, and I've made a Squidoo lens all about it - I would NEVER do this - sheer laziness and lack of self respect. Not only that, I'm thinking what if one of my favourite celebrities just happened to be browsing the aisles in the store and I bumped into them - I'd be so embarrassed. But, it seems that I may not be in the majority and BBC Radio 4's PM news programme had plenty of correspondence saying that it's perfectly OK.

I'll be interested to see if my local Tesco takes a stand on the subject. Rather than worrying about what their customers are wearing, I would rather they improved the standard of fresh food that they sell, pay their suppliers a fair price and cared a bit more about animal welfare. Oh, and made sure that their special offers are special for the customers and not a con.

When my local store re-opened after a rebuild, I thought I would at least give it a chance. I wished I hadn't. Whoever designed it, must have been standing on his head. You have to walk the full length of the store to reach basics like milk and bread - past all the new things they now sell that I wouldn't buy anyway.

One of the items on my list on that first visit was the particular type of tinned tuna my fussy cat prefers. I found single tins at one price and a 'special offer' pack of 3 tins which I expected to be cheaper per tin. WRONG! Believe it or not, it was nearly £1 more!

I took the two packs to the customer desk and I expected an apology for making a mistake and to be offered the 3-pack at a more appropriate price.  I didn't get the response I expected and was virtually accused of wasting the assistants time - when I expressed some mild annoyance with her attitude, she said she would 'tell the duty manager'. I did expect that on a subsequent visit that the error was corrected - it wasn't. 

I am tempted to visit in my pyjamas this weekend or wear a fluffy dressing gown over street clothes - perhaps then I'll get some proper attention to an outright rip-off.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spelling matters

Why is it that more people than ever are going to university, yet the newspapers and blogosphere are full of bad English and mis-spellings.

Even dear old Auntie Beeb is not above throwing in a few split infinitives - including in news broadcasts - unthinkable!

I enjoy writing for the articles site Squidoo and they have a forum in which writers are encouraged to post links to their latest work for criticism. Despite the fact that there is a 'sticky post' at the top of the forum section, every other lens seems to ignore the suggestion to spell-check before publication.

Some of the writers are asking for work to be reviewed that showcases their real business, yet they are willing to sacrifice their credibility for the sake of spending five minutes checking what they have written.

English, as a language has absorbed words from many different sources but more often than not, the original spelling survives. The Welsh, Irish and Gaelic-speaking Scots would expect anything written in their languages to be properly spelt so why don't English speakers have more respect for the written word?

One answer is that there has been a 'fashion' in education for too long, that has valued ideas and content more than style or correctness of grammar and spelling and punctuation. That tide needs to turn and soon. What's the point of a degree if you spell it deegree?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's resolution and my first whinge!

I resolve to blog more often and put my annoyance and irritations into writing rather than sulking and letting them fester. Then perhaps I can see more of the positive side of life than I saw in 2009.

You might think (especially if you are a bloke and more specifically if you are James Martin) that my first post of 2010 is just over-reacting to what was meant to be humorous. Well maybe and maybe not, read on anyway.

Celebrity chef James Martin was interviewed for the January edition of Waitrose supermarket's house magazine. I really like James. His TV presenting style, the kind of food he likes to cook and the fact that he loves fast driving and expensive cars. He's a hunky guy and has a lot of female followers.

According to the article, there is a particular group of his fans who he calls 'The Martinis' who turn up regularly at his events and have done for several years. These ladies are not immune to the ravages of time and their looks may well have declined since they first became his fans, but it is really not gentlemanly or very kind to comment on it.

The article also mentions that James had to pulp the first edition of his autobiography 'Driven' after he was sued by his stepmother so I thought he might have been a little more careful about what he said and his public image.

More generally speaking, it is very irritating when celebrities are dismissive of their fans in various ways. We put them where they are and they should show appreciation by at least not being rude.  Sometimes their demands for privacy are downright unreasonable - not James, but how many stories a year break about some rock, TV or movie star or even footballers, in a scrap with a persistent photographer. Maybe they have now got enough money to go and hide for the rest of their lives and never make another public appearance, but they will get old - oh yes, and maybe they won't have been in the public eye long enough for us to remember them in another 20 years.

They will lose their looks - even the men - very few people are beautiful to the end of a long life without the need for a cosmetic surgeon's life and a lot of makeup.

Enough said. If James ever gets to read this, I think he is a nice enough person really to have at least a moment's regret for upsetting even one loyal fan, even for one moment. Am I one of the maligned Martinis? No. But I would crawl over broken glass to be on Saturday Kitchen with Mr Martin.

(James' book 'James Every Day' features in my Squidoo lens about the current crop of cookbooks)