Day 14 – Talking to the Cleaners, Taken to the Cleaners?

Please tell me why it is that, when you ask people how they are, they usually reply:

“I’m good!”

I haven’t questioned their moral status, so it’s a wierd reply when you come to think of it.

The second mystery to me is: why do we have Brazilian cleaners who can’t speak English, working very well I should add, tidying our office? It doesn’t make sense to me. I am told that there is youth unemployment, yet I cannot recall ever being solicited by any English young to do the job. Why not? And, while I am on the subject, why is Oxford so well served by enthusiastic teams of Bulgarians and Latvians offering to clean cars? When I asked the team leader why they didn’t employ U.K. nationals they looked at me in incredulity and flapped their arms as if this was a dotty question.

I’ll bet Kracow and Buenos Aries don’t have teams of the English seeking to clean cars and houses! What is wrong with our young? Are these jobs too good for them?

Greetings from Glasgow

This morning, I listened to an early news bulletin. At first, I struggled to understand a single word and briefly wondered what language the newsreader was speaking? Then I realised that he had a heavy Glaswegian accent and after a while I got used to it.

I am sure that the BBC is trying to be inclusive and politically correct, but has anyone ever told the journalist in question that if he is making a career out of transmitting information, then his accent is – as are all regional accents – something of a barrier to clarity of meaning? Sorry about that, but it’s true. Of course, I draw a distinction between strong accents and regional intonations: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Gordon Brown and David Steel (Lord), for example, all have delightful Scottish burrs.

A Common Language?
I have difficulty in understanding more or less all American films. The actors appear to mumble without moving their lips, evidence of the old saying that we are two countries divided by a common language. Perhaps the actors think their grunting is cool. Personally, I would rather understand the plot than suffer their muttering, but who cares about that? However, the world news is in a different category altogether. I want to hear it and BBC communicators should be accent-free.

The same goes for vicars. I understand that hardly any theology colleges teach trainees how to articulate, breathe correctly or project their voices. Now if actors are taught these vital skills, why aren’t vicars? Though, now I come to think about it, perhaps it’s just as well they aren’t – for if churchgoers could actually hear what their vicars were saying, perhaps they might opt to do some gardening or play golf instead!

A Place in Society
We pass yet another nursing home. I am sure it is beautifully run – yet…

I read that in Samoa houses are made from “sennit”, a plaited coconut fibre. Apparently the Samoans think that if old people make the sennit, then it will be stronger and more long lasting. So if you are building a new house in that country, you ask your grandfather, “Please make me some yards of sennit – then my house will last much longer than anyone else’s.” So Grandad does that. He feels useful and he has a place in society.

And what do we do here in the UK? We force people to retire as soon as possible, and then we hide our elderly away in care homes.

The Beautiful Game
A while back, I tried to get tickets for a Chelsea/Everton football match. It was total chaos.

Apparently, many of the “official” tickets had already been bought by a tout. As I wanted the tickets to give as a present, I felt obliged to pay the gross sum demanded on my credit card. Lloyds bank at once blocked the payment on grounds of suspected fraud. Apparently the site and the person to whom I was directing the payment were based in Spain!

My suspicions were inflamed. I was given a number to ring – the taciturn man who answered informed me the tickets were apparently owned by a “third party” and based offshore for tax reasons. Silly me, I should have known.

I still can’t be sure if this was a bona fide site or not, or whether my card details were handed to a rat with a gold tooth based in Madrid. I suspect they were and I tremble.

All this fits my views on football exactly. A wonderful game ruined by greed and easy money, and where many of the leading lights have all the qualities of a Labrador minus the loyalty. And these people are supposed to be the role models for our young!

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