10 Things: Modern grumbles

I have to apologise in advance – because what started out as a light-hearted look at modern irritations turned into a bit of a rant. Sorry about that and thanks to my lovely wife and proof-reader for pointing it out…

1)   Kindles: Call me old-fashioned but, when I read a book, I like to have an actual copy, not a download on some device. I prefer the feeling of stretching the back of the book a bit when you start –in the knowledge that this will hopefully be the start of a satisfying  (albeit short-lived) relationship with the words on the page. But truthfully, if you replace a shelf-full of books with a Kindle, you can’t show off as much. Yes, that’s one of the main reasons I think we all keep books – to show off when people come round. I can honestly admit that I disliked ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac and have only kept my copy so that people will see it on the bookshelf and hopefully jump to the conclusion that I am a hip, edgy beatnik-type. A Kindle would rob me of that utter delusion.

2)   Self-service checkouts: “Would you like to purchase any of our promotion items?” “Do you have an advantage card?” “Please scan your first item”. “Verification needed – please wait for assistance”. “Do you have your own bags?” “Please place bag in bagging area”. “ Bag not recognized – please remove bag from bagging area”. “Unidentified item in bagging area”. “Please replace bag”. “Item not recognized – please try again”. “Please stop trying to destroy bagging area or I will call security”…

3)   The Nike running app: For always, ALWAYS deciding to stop working when I have think I have actually made a time that I am proud of, despite the fact I am wheezing like an asthmatic 80-year old carrying his shopping.

4)   Gastro-pubs: I don’t object to the fact that they exist, just the fact they seem to have taken over every single pub in Britain. I mean, sometimes I just want to be able to walk into a pub, get served at the bar and not be forced to sit at a table (due to ‘policy’) where a disinterested waitress will get stroppy because I just want a beer and, therefore, am unlikely to tip her. If I am actually eating, sometimes I’ll want something other than pork belly – maybe just a greasy burger or a piece of steak that looks like it’s been on the floor and was definitely NOT subject to ‘the 10-second rule’. Sometimes I want to feel I have lived dangerously by eating that steak and drinking out of a pint glass that looks like it hasn’t been washed since the most recent ‘change of ownership’.

5)   Gourmet cat food: I don’t have a cat and my feline-based gripes have already been documented on these pages, so the reason for including this is down to the fact that I saw an advert for it on the TV the other night. “You should put that in your blog”, said Mrs.D. So here we go…Why on earth would you want to pay more money for ‘gourmet cat food’ to show how much you ‘love’ your cat? Surely the very fact that you put up with its evil antics is enough to show that you at least tolerate the furry beast in the first place? Besides, is the cat really going to turn around and tell you that it really appreciated its latest meal with the hint of flaked salmon as opposed to the usual, congealed lumps it happily scoffs? No, because it’s a sodding cat! This is an animal that will happily lick its own genitals, so I can be pretty sure its taste buds won’t care whether the food is ‘gourmet’ or not.

6)   Reward cards: Shop at your local supermarket 10 times and you’ll get 5 points on your reward card. 200 points give you 20 tokens – which you have to redeem online. When you collect 1000 tokens, you can then apply via post (including a copy of your passport photo and a print-out of all your tokens) for a gold card, which will save you 47p off your next food shop. Alternatively, you can use it to pay for a night in a 2-star hotel somewhere near Bournemouth (dinner and breakfast not included).

7)   ‘Chuggers’ (those people who try to stop you in the street and get you to donate to any number of charities): Don’t get me wrong – I am a charitable person. I have taken part in a number of charitable events over the years and am more than happy to support friends and family when they do likewise. However, I do object to being accosted by ‘perky’ students who try and prevent me from reaching my destination by blocking my path and trying to get me to part with my hard-earned cash in order to earn them commission from whatever bib they are wearing that day. I also don’t see why they stand so close to each other. If I’m going out my way to avoid one of them, I’m certainly not going to change my mind within 20 yards. I am far from a rude person but, apart from on a football field, one such encounter with a chugger has been the only time I’ve ever sworn at a stranger in public.

8)   Rocket: I don’t think I was even aware of this herby pest five years ago – it was obviously the new leaf on the block at some point. Now it seems to be everywhere – salads, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers – you name it, it’s there and intent on ruining my meals by sneaking into my mouth unannounced and nestling in my teeth whilst I curse it.

9)   Companies that contact you over ‘mis-sold PPI claims’. Like a swarm of midges that just won’t give up, I have lost count of the number of adverts I have seen, as well as the HUGE number of phone calls and texts I have received from various people on the off-chance I have unknowingly taken out payment protection insurance. I fear that, come the apocalypse, all that will remain will be call-centres still trying to ring us about our financial history.

10)   Simon Cowell: I don’t really need to elaborate further on this one.

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