Monday, 7 November 2016

Why Women SHOULD Take Responsibility For Their Actions

Before I get on to my main topic I just want to make it clear I DO NOT condone cultures or attitudes that consider women to be nothing more than objects of man’s desire and use. On a day to day basis all women, of whatever age, should be treated with respect and as equals. There are some parts of the world which are better at doing this than others. Some cultures that still think women are lesser beings. Some cultures that claim to support equality but still treat women as objects to be used. This is wrong and will always be wrong. But here comes the big BUT…

No matter how civilized we consider ourselves we have to understand that we are still basically animals prone to the programming of nature. Now when the human body was designed by nature however many thousands of years ago, there weren’t very many of us to start with and nature deemed the whole planet needed populating. Lifespans were short. Even today not many mammals live much beyond thirty or forty years in good circumstances. This is why puberty and sexual maturity happened in the early teens. Unfortunately while we have progressed and developed morals and codes of conduct, our bodies are stuck with the original programming and haven’t updated. Unlike electronic products there is no way to upload amendments to the base code. There is a, sometimes overwhelming, desire to have sex and produce the next generation. That is the only reason for sex, according to the base code. Apart from Bonobo’s, humans are the only animals that indulge in sex merely for pleasure.

Women expect to be able to wear whatever they want with impunity. Fair enough. But with the base code in mind don’t be surprised if you dress like a tart you are treated like a tart. I make no apologies for being totally blunt here. I’m sure not many women go out with that intention, but you get what I mean, I hope. Why do women wear pretty and attractive clothes if not to feel pretty and attractive. Fine. I have no problem with that but if you are pretty and attractive you will get attention, unwanted or not, from other people, usually men.

So we move on to my main point. Date rape. By this I do not mean rape committed by men who have used drugs to make a woman ‘available’. That is premeditated and full blown rape as bad as any other sort. Stalkers, rapists, people who prey on women, these should be prosecuted, strung up by their delicate parts or castrated on the spot! What I am talking about is the sort of rape that happens when people go out for an evening of drinking and get so paralytic they no longer know what they are doing.

In a decent civilized society a sober, well-mannered man, on finding a woman passed out through drink would try his best to make her safe, get her home, protect her. Unfortunately in such circumstances the man is most likely to be inebriated as well, in which case the base code might well kick in and he will want to take advantage of this opportunity. I’m not excusing his actions, just trying to explain it. Having explained it, I’m not saying it is acceptable, but it happens.

On a night out a couple might meet at 11 o’clock and agree to sex. By midnight the woman might have changed her mind for whatever reason. Could be that by midnight the man is incapable! Could be that she has realised he is not worth her attention. But if she then carries on drinking to the state of unconsciousness or incapability she leaves herself open to whatever happens next. She cannot then turn round and say ‘I didn’t mean it when I said yes. I really meant, maybe or no.’

I’m certainly not suggesting that the man has an automatic right to do whatever he wants. What I am saying is, even when going with friends for a fun night out, all women should take responsibility for what they consume. I’m not saying don’t drink. I’m saying don’t get falling down drunk. It is possible to have a good time without getting totally lathered. In fact, it might be even better because you will remember it!

Rape is not the only crime that can happen to a woman when she is drunk. Muggings and other forms of assault happen. And this is not even taking into account the damage it does to health and the risk of actually dying because of drink. There is nothing more heart-breaking than seeing a mother who has lost a child who has choked on their own vomit due to drinking.

And there is loss of self-respect. I belong to the generation where women were not seen to get drunk. I’m not saying they didn’t. But it was unseemly. And to me that is something we have lost. It would seem that in our struggle for equal rights with men, the right to go out and get totally rat-arsed is one of them. Personally I think that has brought us down, not raised us up. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Is This How Marketing Works?

Before I go any further I want to say I have NO marketing experience, have never worked in the marketing department of any company nor have I worked in advertising. This is how my imagination sees a new product being launched. The product we are talking about is toothpaste. I will not identify the brand or the product within that brand, but the following is based on something I bought.

Around a table representatives of Research and Development Department and Product Support are
gathered to discuss the pricing and benefits of a new product.

PS: It’s great to have a new product to add to our range of twenty different types of toothpaste. Please tell us about this one. What is special about it?

R&D: This is our latest Super Duper, cure all problems, toothpaste.

PS: Great. What is so special about it?

R&D: It does everything the other toothpastes do but better. So we can charge more.

PS: Does it cost more to produce?

R&D: Well, actually, no. It’s pretty much the same.

PS: That’s no good, we have to have a fairly legitimate reason for charging more.

R&D: We solved this by asking our packaging supplier to come up with a new type of top. Instead of a simple flip cap, or a screw top with a pull-off piece of foil over the opening, they have made a sealed cap that needs to be inserted into the lid to release the seal the first time it is used.

PS: Ah! Like one of those tops that needs to be pierced.

R&D: Oh, no. this is much more complicated. The cap has a serrated edge to it which you insert into the top of the cap to match up with inverted serrations which you then twist to remove the seal.

PS: I see. And we tell the customers how this works on the packaging?

R&D: No need for that, we need pretty pictures on the packaging to show how clever the toothpaste is at cleaning your teeth and preventing sensitivity.

PS: And for this we can charge more?

R&D: Yes, the tops are more expensive to make as they need twice as much plastic for a start, let alone the engineering involved in making the serrations and the release mechanism.

PS: Great. Because it is more expensive customers will realise it is a better product. It is a better product, isn’t it?

R&D: Well, it’s toothpaste. It does pretty much the same as any toothpaste if used correctly. Seeing as how most people don’t use toothpaste correctly, it doesn’t really make that much difference. But we can charge more for it and that will increase company profits.

PS: It says in the test results that some people have complained that they have a strange sensation in their mouths after using it.

R&D: Probably down to the chemicals in it. But we can use that to say that it gives a tingling fresh feel to your mouth after use. People are suckers for gimmicks like that. Most toothpastes don’t leave you feeling anything, but if your mouth is tingling after use you know you have done a good job!

PS: Brilliant. So let me just recap. We have a new product that isn’t really any different to the twenty other products we already have, which costs the same to produce but has more expensively engineered packaging so we can charge more and which leaves a chemical reaction in the mouth after use which we can explain away as a magic formula for showing the toothpaste has worked. Great. Can’t see any problem there. Let’s go for it and start getting the marketing people involved! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Book out now

If The World Hadn't Changed is my latest book out now at all the usual places.

For full details see its own page, then buy it, sit back and enjoy. You might want some tissues handy.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Are Shops Getting Too Big?

As another long standing British High Street store is under threat while people complain that the High Streets are dying, I wonder if it is because too many stores are trying to please everyone.

Shops that were once mere grocery stores now sell everything from clothes to electrical goods. I’ve bought a television in Morrisons. Now Sainbury’s are selling clothes. While I like the idea of not having to go to the butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fishmonger and delicatessen to buy my weekly groceries, I don’t want to be lured into buying other things at the same time. If I want new clothes, I will go to a clothes shop. If I want new shoes I will go to a shoe shop. If I need a new TV I will look in Curry’s or Argos. These are the shops that used to be on the High Street. If they are not there now it’s because people aren’t using them.

I was watching people being interviewed in the street after the announcement that BHS had gone into administration. Most people seemed sad but there were also comments like “I can never find anything I like.” Well, maybe you are looking in the wrong shop or you are too fussy. I rarely come out of BHS without at least one thing I didn’t go in for.

And that brings me to the point that major stores are trying to be everything to everyone in their search for customers. It doesn’t happen. I recently went into a large M&S on a retail park, the first time I had gone to an M&S since the small store closed in my local town. I felt overwhelmed. It was so big, so many things from which to choose, it was almost impossible to find anything because there was too much choice.

The fact is young people wear different clothes to older people. Quite possibly people in the North have different needs to people in the South (I’m thinking weatherwise here. It’s much colder the further north you go from London). By trying to entice younger people into a shop that caters for older customers you alienate those older people, without necessarily getting the younger ones who consider it a shop for oldies. Likewise, you won’t get older people looking in shops for youngsters. Trying to cater for everyone is costly and a gamble.

This massive shop I was in didn’t have any more cash points than my local BHS, and wasn’t as busy as the now defunct M&S, so despite its size I’m not sure it is doing any better. Maybe it was the time and the day, I don’t know. I hope for their sake it does get busier. In such a large store I expected to see two or three points to pay for your goods, but there was only one with only about four or five tills, and no long queues.

And then there is the cost of providing all those items in multiple stores. I know there is supposed to be economy in bulk buying, but if you end up buying too much as a retailer, what happens to all the things that haven’t been sold at the end of the season. Are they binned? Donated to charity? Sold on to market retailers?

Tesco learned to its cost that having too many choices does not always work. Giving the customer choice is one thing. Giving the customer five types of the same thing is something else entirely. So no doubt the smaller producers will lose out to the big brands because they are no longer wanted.

Internet shopping is being blamed for the demise of many stores, and in some respects this may be true. It is easy to find things on the internet, especially unusual things. I spent all of one Saturday afternoon trawling through my local shops looking for something very specific and couldn’t find it anywhere. Got home and went on the net and found it within minutes, if not seconds. But there has always been an alternative to buying clothes in shops. I bet there isn’t a home in the UK at least that didn’t at some point subscribe to a catalogue store like Kays or Freemans. That was the internet of the past, where you could get an endless choice in multiple sizes all delivered to your door. Such catalogues still exist, possibly even more, plus they have an online presence, too.

So are we heading for a completely shop-free world. Do we even need to go out to the shops? Personally I’d be happy not to but I’m weird that way. But to keep shops going people need to use them. It’s no good saying ‘it’s a shame’ when a shop closes if you haven’t supported it on a regular basis. Shops are there to sell things, not look pretty and fill a space. A small shop cannot give the same choice as a massive store on a retail park. It is not possible to cater for every taste in one place, so BHS, M&S, HM, and all the other retailers, make up your minds who your customers are and try to please them. Not an easy task, I know.

Where will I shop? Well, I’ve probably got enough clothing to last the next twenty years and I’m happy to wear the same thing year in, year out, so I’m not really bothered. I’d just like to put my winter stuff away and wear something light and only have one layer instead of three!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Meet the Author!

My sister-in-law came over to take some photos of me for promotion purposes a couple of summers ago. I still look pretty much the same. Still got the skirt but the tree has gone!

This is Mutley. Like all dogs she wanted to get in on the act.

It's not often you can get out in the garden in England but this was a nice sunny day for a change. Even had a skirt on so it must have been warm. Never been able to figure out why garden centres have so much garden furniture for sale. Never really figured out who actually bothers to buy it, but that's another blog!

At one time I belonged to a recorder group. Believe me a group of recorders can sound really good when the instruments are not being played by 8 year olds.
They invested in this huge instrument (can't remember what exactly, it was called) and I gave it a go but must admit I never mastered it.

Looks like I'm doing some editing.
Looks like it but I'm just posing!!

Ah, that old netbook. Brings back some memories. Use a Surface now. Love it.

I TOLD you I was working. Where's my cup of tea?

Mutley again. Thinks she is the centre of attention.

Have no idea what I was laughing at. Probably Mutley attacking the photographer!

This is a very dangerous position to be in with Mutley. You NEVER want her rear end facing you.

Well, I can't think of anything else to say. Hope you have enjoyed the trip around my garden.
Now let's see if any of these photos pop up when I post things on Facebook!

Interesting Stats

I'm just killing time here to see if my attempt to get some different pictures stored works. Although you can upload pictures for posts and then use them again because they are stored, I have no idea if you can store them without using them. So you might see a post that just consists of pictures of me. Don't spend too much time looking at it.

I had a look at my stats for this blog and it proved very interesting and a little confusing.

First I looked at the stats for 'all time'. I was impressed by how many people looked at my blog from the US, thanks guys. You came out top.

Surprisingly Russia and China came third and fourth, that was a surprise. Better be careful what I say!

Strangely in the All Time stats there was no sign of Spain, which surprised me because I know my good friend Mike Church, often looks at my posts and he lives in Spain.

But then I went on to the stats for last month and there was Spain. And top of the chart Israel. Yet that country doesn't show up anywhere else.

Interesting stuff. Must look more often. What it does show is that my humble ramblings are seen all over the world, including Indonesia, Ukraine and some other really surprising places. Thank you all for taking the time to look at my work.

I'll add a photo here, just to get it stored!

Monday, 4 April 2016

We Get What We Deserve

As the steel industry collapses around us and people bemoan that we have lost coal and all sorts of manufacturing to cheap imports, I ask if we have brought this upon ourselves.

Over the last few years we have demanded cheaper and cheaper goods in our stores.

Supermarkets are in competition with each other to sell cheaper food, at a cost to the farmer or producer. We moan about cheap labour being brought in to pick fruit grown here, but we won’t work for that rate ourselves, yet we want the fruit as cheaply as possible. And we want everything, now! Gone are seasonal products. Gone is the joy of waiting until summer to have strawberries for tea, you can have them at Christmas if you want. But only if they are cheap enough.

We want cheap clothes and shoes, so shops bring stuff in from places where labour is cheap, because we can’t make things for the same price.

Fifty years ago my mum used to work in a London sweatshop (you couldn’t call it anything else) and made dresses for Marks & Spencer. Everything was made to the highest quality, all the dresses had proper hems not just a running stitch around the bottom. Even in those days competition was stiff for the cheapest products. Even in those days the skills needed for making clothes was being forgotten.

Once upon a time, not long ago, the area in which I now live was the centre of the UK hosiery and shoe business. Both industries lost out to cheap imports. You can probably buy tights and pop socks at the same price as you could ten years ago.

Where wages are reasonably high we have become a throw-away society. Cheap clothes that are worn a couple of times are easily replaced instead of treasured for years. Too much food is bought because it was cheap and didn’t really break the bank, so it doesn’t matter if it is thrown away; except it does because it has cost farmers and fruit pickers money to produce it in the first place. Gadgets are bought and replaced with a click of a button on the internet. Shipped in from China, Japan, India or Korea. Nothing is made in the UK.

The mantra of “Go compare” has replaced value for money. And there is a difference between those two even if they sound the same. We are encouraged to seek the cheapest rates/deals/products in every walk of life. To some extent this has always been so, but now it has become so intense it risks wiping out the profits of every industry on which we depend. Business is simply that. Business. It is there to make a profit for its shareholders and for future development and although that has become a dirty word to some, without profit there can be no tax gathered from it. Without tax the infrastructure of the country is dented. Without infrastructure the country cannot survive. Pensions depend on profits from shares and investments. The future of our food and welfare depends on being prepared to pay the correct price for the things we need and allowing business to make a profit instead of a loss.

Our future also depends on said businesses paying their dues, too. Stop all the legal tax avoidance that has been going on for years.