Food, Psychology, Random, Society

A Pork Pie, Out of Place

Pies on a wall

Pies on a Wall image by Andy Vickers

I was once walking in the countryside of Yorkshire and saw two unaccompanied (presumably meat) pies on a dry stone wall, there was nobody within sight who could have left them there. What a waste of a good pie. A few years later and more locally…

I looked in the discounted items fridge in the supermarket, saw a twin-pack of pork pies and put them in my basket. Only much later at home when I thought that I’d need to eat them as they’d be near their “use-by” date did I look at them and realise they hadn’t been reduced at all, I looked at my receipt and I’d paid full price for them. Someone had apparently seen some cheaper ones in the fridge and instead of returning the ones they’d put in their basket to where they were on the proper shelf they’d just stuffed them on the discount shelf, for someone else to put back presumably, as it’s their job to repatriate such items, of course. I check for the yellow “oops” stickers religiously now, especially if something seems too good to be, er, reduced.

I wrote the above a while ago, but strangely I’ve been seeing this much more since the covid-19 lockdown period began, all I can think of for this is that people appear to follow the rule of not putting things back on the shelf once you’ve touched them but instead wait until they’re on an aisle where no-one can see them and then they dump the unwanted pack of chocolate deserts amongst the bread.

Unless it’s a secret tactic by the supermarkets to tempt you into buying things you might not have noticed. Hmm, maybe not.  Strange days indeed.

Meta, Psychology, Random, Society, Uncategorized
Tall Man, Small Wolrld

Tall Man (Me in my Bathroom) ©2011

As I walked into a pub a woman said to her boyfriend, perhaps to cover up the fact that she was ogling me “he’s tall isn’t he”.  It happened to me a while back, also in the pub, the guy stood next to me looked at me and exclaimed “you’re tall!”   Really?  I hadn’t noticed.

Well, I had and that’s why this blog is called what it is.  Here is the story of its name.  People have in the past called me, being very original, “Lurch” so, having come up with the idea for the blog about modern society and the tagline used as the title above, I called it 21st Century Lurch.  Having already mentioned the url on Facebook etc I then decided to call it something else less personally negative so chose another word that meant tall “Longfellow” and changed the url from 21stlurch… to 21stlunch…  and put it down to a typo.  Longfellow’s 21st Century Lunch arrived by accident but I liked it more anyway.

Our society still values bigger numbers – engines (as in the size of a car’s example rather than the number on an aircraft’s wing, that’s just sensible to have a few spare); salaries; bigger GBs (in smartphones); higher versions (of iPads or Browsers); values of cars and houses; prices of pies and TVs and so on.  Everywhere you look you’re told bigger is better, with a few exceptions – waistlines, fuel bills and wind turbines come to mind.

Which is why it’s the case that someone can say “Andy, hold this, you’re tall” or “can you reach that off that shelf, you’re tall” and not think that you’d be offended whereas if you said to someone “you’re short, reach under there and pull out that lead” there would be a sharp intake of breath and an exclamation of “you can’t say that!”  And we’ve all heard “is it cold up there”, “is it raining yet” etc.  Even the Queen, on meeting a tall basketball player was reported as saying “you’re tall.”

I’m not saying that being tall’s all bad but we have the same issues that those at the opposite end of the height scale have.  Cash machines are too low, recent ones designed to be used by “average” people as well as those in wheelchairs are almost painful to use without kneeling and hence looking like you’re praying to the Natwest for money.  For the long-legged toilets are often a very long way down, as are many sofas.  Trying to gracefully enter a car or van where someone has pulled the seat forward since you last used it is very nearly impossible and often nearly lethal.  People complain about shelves being too high in shops, I’m always happy to reach for something if someone asks, but there are many places in this town of many historical buildings where I can regularly dent my head on an oak beam or doorframe – and yes, most of them are, or were, in pubs.  As for clothes the top half’s generally ok but I’ve nearly exclaimed with joy when finding a pair of suitable long-leg jeans in a shop, for a time the nearest available pairs were forty-odd miles away.  It is quite satisfying to know though that when you have your hair cut the hairdresser doesn’t have to waste time or energy jacking your chair up to a usable height.

There are also stereotypes based on fairytale giants, for example on a topical comedy show it was reported that a commentator had said of footballer Peter Crouch “he has a remarkably light touch, for a big man”, I know that we’re likely to be a tad heavier than shorter people, having an extra twelve inches or so of body to fill, but we’re not all lumbering giants.  I know quite a few lumbering mid-height people.

Lastly of course Women say they’re looking for Mr Tall, Dark and Handsome yet often the tall bit stops just above average height, I’ve often heard of women assuming that a tall man would only want an equally tall woman, while shorter men are supposedly put-off or intimidated by tall women.  I have only encountered a handful of women anywhere near my height and to be honest for someone shorter than me I’m happy to bend down a bit, it’s not a problem.

Tall Man, Small World

Business, Food, Random, Society

Too Soon? (Er, No)

Mince Pies

Mince Pies Before Xmas

Well, it’s that time of year again, dark evenings, warm fires, mince pies.  Yes, it’s Christmas.

What?  Christmas is still in December?  Really, because I swear last week I bought some mince pies, all wrapped in Christmassy packaging and the best-before date was in November.

By now we all know that shops start selling Christmas paraphernalia around August and pubs have a little Christmas tree in the corner to advertise their Christmas lunches in September but why are they selling mince pies in November?  Yes, I suppose you could freeze them to get round the two-week best before limit but really, are we at risk of a shortage, are we facing a mincemeat deficit?

And yes I bought some, as you can see above, and have eaten them well before the big day.  Naturally, well it is (nearly) Christmas and I still have half a tub of ice cream to use up.

Psychology, Random, Society, Uncategorized

Woohoo, It’s Cold and Raining!

Rain camera

Rain camera (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

How to guarantee it’s warm and sunny just about every time you step outside your front door…  Buy a nice new wet-weather jacket in June.

It’s a lovely, warm and comfortable jacket and I’ve used it twice during a summer that was much better than the last few years’.  It’s a strange psychological reaction, you’ve bought something new and you want to use it straight away, you want other people to see your bright or shiny new thing but you can’t, it’s frustrating and suddenly you find yourself pleased to see something like the rain that you’d normally moan about.  I suppose it’s the same for someone who bought a convertible car, or a barbecue and a freezer-full of meat just before one of our lousy wet summers.

In the last three weeks I’ve used it twice and now we’re back to summer again, with only three months to Christmas.  Anyone fancy barbecued turkey this year?

Business, Marketing, Random, Tech

Everything’s Better With Bacon

Horse And Cart

Horse And Cart (Photo credit: foilman)

To be honest I quite like the adverts for the UK’s EE phone network featuring the always-connected Kevin Bacon, even if I’m not a fan of the name “EE” – at least I can still say I’m on Orange if anyone asks.  The latest ad dips into popular colloquialisms for its inspiration and shows Kev dragging a “shedload of data”.

My first thought was where they could go next with the idea:

“Why you lugging a cart of manure Kev?”

“That’s not manure, it’s data, it’s a metric shit-tonne of data.”

There you go EE, have this one on me.

Food, Random, Science

Drinking Is Not The Answer…

A glass of red wine. Photo taken in Montreal C...

A glass of red wine. Photo taken in Montreal Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the question is “what will get rid of my cold?”  This post relates to my personal viral episode.

Gizmodo recently scientifically challenged the theories that alcohol can cure a cold.  Firstly they explained that to have enough alcohol in your bloodstream to kill the virus (60%-80% ethyl alcohol) you’d kill yourself first, as usually a concentration of 0.2% will render most of us insensible.

Then they showed that the alcohol doesn’t disinfect your throat, or soothe it but in fact simply numbs your pain response and can actually further dry out the tissues of the throat, making things worse.  Concluding with an “amusing anecdote” about a submariner gargling with 99% alcohol.

Lastly they reported on a study by Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 on the relationship between smoking, drinking and the common cold.  Those who smoked got sick more often, smoking and drinking brought average results whereas drinkers got sick less – with those who drank 14 glasses of wine per week, especially red wine, being 60% less susceptible to colds.  This is probably down to the antioxidants in wine and dark beers like Guiness – which is good news for me, I enjoy a good dark beer.

Roll on Friday!

[Gizmodo UK]

Business, Flight, Random, Transport

Par Avion

Marion Smykowski, Loading airmail, late 1930s,...

Marion Smykowski, Loading airmail, late 1930s, in Detroit. Marion’s father, Leo, can be seen at his store in a photo in the History of Detroit article.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It sometimes astounds me how the likes of Amazon and marketplace sellers who trade via the sell-anything leviathan make money.  It is of course economies of scale, selling cheap but selling many still works but there are times when the numbers just seem impossible to add up.

Take for example a headphone adaptor I bought.  When I ordered it it said it would take up to five weeks to be delivered, the next day it said it had been dispatched but would take a fortnight to get to me.  Even my favorite couriers couldn’t take that long, where was it coming from, I laughed, China?  It was Singapore to be precise, by Air Mail.

The two week travel time still had be envisioning old DC3s full of mailbags but in reality it was no doubt transported along with thousands of other bits and pieces in a cargo 747.  Again it’s that sharing of the cost of the flight amongst all the other items that meant I still only paid £1.99 postage (it cost me nearly as much to post a package a hundred miles across Britain last month) but still it’s another example of our modern global commerce and I wonder how many tiny adaptors are flying around above our heads, enroute to exotic locations.

Random, Tech, Uncategorized

The Sweet Smell of USB

From the random multi-purpose accessories department.


In a shop that sells a variety of items I saw a USB hub for 99p, now as I wanted a powered hub anyway I thought I’d get one.  On the box I noticed it had a disc on top marked with Open and Close.  Was this cable storage, batteries?

The cover was difficult to open but when it eventually gave in beneath it was a cotton pad in a holder screwed into the centre of the hub with no apparent means of removing it.

Stranger and stranger.

SAM_0062medThe box text was all in German, as were the instructions in the box.  So to find out what this strange device’s special feature was I turned to other technology.  I scanned the instruction sheet, used OCR software that came with the scanner to turn it into text for me then copied that into Google Translate.  Less than a second later I had my answer.

“USER GUIDE – USB Hub with Scented Oil Distribution”

I’ve seen USB drinks warmers, fans, reading lights, dancing flowers and Christmas trees but now I’d inadvertently found a USB hub that was also an air freshener.  Sweet.

Music, Psychology, Random, Tech, Work

Hold On, And On, And On

Típica cabina roja de Londres - Red telephone ...

Típica cabina roja de Londres – Red telephone box – London (Photo credit: Arabarra)

In my work I’m regularly put on hold as suppliers find out whether they’ve got something, when I can have something or why I haven’t received something.  Most of the time the hold music is cheesy, generic and bland but mostly irritating which I suspect is to encourage you to hang up and go get a coffee instead.  Some companies have even started replacing the music with constant ads for their products, one of my suppliers never really changes the product range and I’ve found myself saying, without thinking, “I know about that, we buy it already”.

Which reminds me; always bear in mind that when you’re on hold the person on the other end can often hear you even if you can’t hear them so don’t be impolite unless you want them to know you’re pissed off.

New research by TalkTo and ResearchNow has found that people spend on average 10-20 minutes per week on hold, which equates to 43 hours in a lifetime.

Only twice in twelve years have I been impressed by being on hold.  Once was with a company which used “I Need a Little Time” by The Beautiful South.  The other was a firm who always had a good variety of good, modern, well-known songs to listen to while you waited, you felt slightly disappointed when it ended.  There was one song they played I hadn’t heard since I was clubbing years before and, I’m not embarrassed to say, I did dance to it behind my counter.  Which is one way to spend those 43 hours of your life you’ll never get back.

Health, Psychology, Random, Society

Slip Sliding Awaaaay

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

I don’t mind the cold, I like snow and I feel the chill later than most people I know but sometimes I see other people who make me shiver.  During the recent bad weather I have still seen numerous men out during the day in the snow, and more recently gale-force winds and stinging rain in just jeans and t-shirt, or often, football shirt.  The epitome of image over health.

You can see they’re trying to look like they’re not bothered but you can see them straining not to visibly shiver.  “I’m ffffine, it’s not ccccold at all”.  It’s not just men though, I see many women who do the same.  It’s not too bad if you’re only going out in the cold for a couple of minutes, say from one warm pub to the next on a Saturday night, but walking to or from work, going shopping where you’re outdoors more than inside?  I don’t think so.  As any experienced walker, climber or Arctic explorer will tell you layering is important, getting layers of insulating fabric and air between you and the atmosphere, as well as keeping dry.  Hypothermia can set in remarkably quickly and isn’t pleasant.

But it’s not just protection against the cold, people seem to choose odd footwear for the snow and ice too.  The number of people I see slithering around on icy paths in slick soled shoes and trainers is astounding, admittedly nothing’s going to work on sheet ice for goodness sake people you can get basic walking trainers with chunky, rough grippy soles for next to nothing these days, fashion isn’t worth ending up flat on your backside for.  Though at least if you have a decent thick coat on your landing would be a bit softer.