Sunday 27 November 2011

RIP Gary Speed

Today, the British football world was shaken with the news of the suicide of the Welsh manager, Gary Speed, who was found hanged at his home this morning.  On the surface, he was a man with the world at his feet:  happily married with the footballer's dream job of successfully managing his national side.  He was a regular pundit on Football Focus and Match of the Day.  I didn't know him and yet I was moved to tears while listening to his close friend, Robbie Savage, fielding calls on a football phone-in that rapidly became a tribute program.  (Robbie, it was obvious you were crying.)

My heart goes out to his family:  his father, his wife and his children.  I am truly sorry for your loss.  (I have heard no mention of his mother so assume she has predeceased him.  If that assumption is wrong, I am very sorry.)  

The big question is "Why?".  Was it planned?  Was it spontaneous?  Were you living a double life for years, Gary, hiding depression from absolutely everyone?  Maybe we'll never know.  Hopefully his wife and children won't be left haunted for years, blaming themselves. The one thing I know about suicide is that, for the person involved, they want what-ever-it-is-tormenting-them to stop and to be at peace.  They often don't want to die but they can't see another way to make it stop. 

Gary, I hope you are at peace now.

Saturday 12 November 2011

New Scam in Progress

I've just had a phone call from someone claiming to be the "Windows Help Desk" and saying that they're getting loads of error messages from my computer and that if I didn't do what they told me immediately, my computer would break down!   The background noise sounded like they were calling from a large call centre and the accent was Asian.

Err.... I don't think so.  We aren't stupid enough to sign up for a service like that for domestic computers (waste of money) and the people who run those services commercially don't make calls out of the blue on a Saturday.  You have to register a problem first with the help-desk - they can't monitor you remotely (companies can, but that's because you log into the company network before you do anything else).

Also, I'm geek enough to know there is nothing wrong with either PC.  If there was, I know a reputable business in Uxbridge that'll fix it for a flat fee.

However, someone who didn't have much technical knowledge might get caught out, follow their instructions and download the spy-bot as instructed or pay over the money for the service these scammers are selling. 

For heavens sake, if you get a call like this, engage your common sense first and then hang up!

- Pam 

Friday 11 November 2011

The Game

I swear I didn't pop into the Barnardo's Charity Shop with buying a suit in mind.  I was looking for something - or rather, some things - but my list didn't specifically involve clothing for me.  Instead, it covered the "usual":  a double boiler for melting wax for candles (always top of the list but unlikely); an un-engraved pewter tankard to be polished up and engraved as one of the numerous 40th birthday presents (so far, I've found 2 in two years); a plain black fleece for DH for work;  yarn (maybe); and possibly some clothing for me if something catches my eye.  Oh, and to amuse myself, I was playing The Game.

The Game?  What game?  The "you only have £50 and you need to buy a full wardrobe" game.  The rules are simple:  you have £50 and the clothes you are currently wearing (including hand bag). You must buy sufficient clothing to get you through a working week and a weekend (including underwear and shoes), plus make-up, toiletries and a bag to carry it all in.  Since this is a game, you don't have to buy them in real life.

I think I first invented The Game, when I had to do something similar for real.  It was February 1999 and I was spending every weekend and most evenings with DH (DB as he was then).  Fridays, I'd normally schlep a bag of clothes in with me to work and then go directly to DH's. One particular Thursday, I stupidly drank wine after giving blood, nearly passed out, and ended up spending the night at DH's rather than drive the 20 miles home.  This Friday, I was dreading driving home to get my stuff - it'd take me 4 hours in the Friday evening traffic to get there and back. At about 4.30 in the afternoon, I cooked up a plan and decided I'd go shopping instead.  I didn't have a huge amount of money so I set the budget at £50.  After an hour's dash through the shops, I had a Head gym bag, a pair of jeans, three tee-shirts, some underwear, socks and a cardigan.   I'd already had to buy make-up that morning and I could use DH's toiletries, so they were off the list.   I was wearing a trouser suit, loafers, coat and had a handbag.   Thus was borne the basic elements of The Game.

Anyway, last Friday, I was wandering through the shops playing The Game.  I decided I could keep the clothes and shoes I was wearing (jeans, coat, cardigan, t-shirt, trainers, etc), together with my handbag and its contents (including lipstick, lip balm, sock knitting kit, and a comb).  Here's what I "spent":-
  • £4.47 - Make-up:   powder, blusher and mascara (£1.49 each) from Tesco's All About Face range which I reviewed last year. (I decided the powder would stand in as a make-up base and that I could keep the lipstick in my handbag.)
  • 85p cotton wool pads to apply the above makeup.
  • £2.80 - Toiletries and skin care:  value shampoo (64p/litre), value hair conditioner (24p), value cream handwash (37p) which can double as body wash and facial cleanser, value toothbrush (10p), value toothpaste (17p),  value twin blade disposable razors for shaving my legs (30p for 10).  The cheapest moisturiser is actually quite a good one:  Nivea Soft Intensive Moisturising Creme (99p).
  • £4.50 - Suitcase:  second hand from a charity shop.   Not the nicest case, but better than a plastic bag.
  • £18.00 - two work suits (£9.50 and £8.50) - the ones I found in Bernardos.
  • £6.50 - work shoes:  in Oxfam, I found a pair of black shoes suitable for work.
  • £8 - 4 t-shirts from charity shops.
  • £1.75 - tights/pantihose: value brand pack of 6.
  • 62p - socks:  value brand pack of 3 black socks. (This is the price I paid last time - couldn't find them today.)
  • £2.50 - panties:  value brand pack of 4. (Again, this is the price I paid last time - couldn't find them today.)
Grand total:  £49.99.   I've priced it up for you, to prove that it is possible.  You'll note that there is no nightwear.  I decided that I could always sleep in my dirty t-shirt from that day and use my coat as a dressing gown, if I was desperate.

So, anyway, this is the long way around  to explain how I purchased two almost-new Marks & Spencer suits in Barnardo's a week or so ago. 

- Pam