Category Archives: People Watching

Awaydays

A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru!
I am writing this whilst sitting in a drinking establishment in Coventry. Why Coventry, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer. It seemed as good a place as any to visit for the night on the way back from Cambridge. Why Cambridge, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer, but I shan’t, because that would be the wrong answer. One male sibling and I went there to visit oldest female sibling and her granddaughter, who are visiting their son and dad respectively while he lolls around Cambridge University inventing things to do with storage of heat and energy – I would explain this more fully, since I understand the process completely, but I don’t have enough time or space and I can assure you, Faithful Followers, that you would have no idea what I am on about, and I’m pretty sure that any explanation will not help you manoeuvre your way through the many miseries this life will throw at you.

The other female sibling in our Happy Family also joined us, making the Great Trek up through the Dreaded Dartford Tunnel (DDT), so we were a jolly band. If only Youngest Sibling had been able to hurry down from Hull (I am in an alliterative mood tonight), we should have been a complete family! The Hull family member said he was too busy sorting papers to make the journey, but I have a feeling this may have been a euphemism for ‘You must be joking! A family reunion! I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.’

We went to a lovely pub/restaurant on the river for lunch and ordered some food which, we were told, would take about 40 minutes because they were very busy. That seemed fine because conversation was taking a long time anyway – one or two of the group are a little hard of hearing, so everything had to be repeated at least twice, and throw in a Northern Ireland accent and you have the makings of an international conference without the benefit of an interpreter. (The food took an hour, by the way, so conversation was beginning to wane and we almost turned to the dreaded Brexit topic, but the triple-cooked chips arrived in the nick of time!)

John Collier (1850–1934)

Painted by John Collier (1850–1934)

I am now communicating with you ‘live’ from the ‘welcoming bar’ (booking.com description) of our Coventry hotel instead of from the Indian restaurant next door where we had hoped to end the evening. The restaurant, advertised as open until 23.59 (we arrived at 21.45), was, we were told, closing in 30 minutes – for good! However, the waiter recommended a five-minute walk to a ‘whole street’ of restaurants. Did I mention that it was pouring with rain?

We decided to cut our losses and finish the evening with a glass of wine and a packet of crisps in the hotel’s ‘welcoming’ bar. The barmaid took a little while to serve us because she needed to finish her cigarette outside first, and when a note was tendered to pay, the change was given in 10p pieces – three pounds’ worth of 10p pieces! Why would a bar have a till full of 10p pieces and not a single £1 coin?
Meanwhile, some of the clientele are seated in the ‘welcoming’ bar area ringing a takeaway restaurant to complain that they haven’t received enough chips with their kebabs. Apparently, ‘only’ 20 chips per kebab aren’t enough. First World problems, eh?

Anyway, that’s Coventry covered (unlike Lady Godiva), so there is no need to return to the place – unless I find that the 10p pieces can only be spent in Coventry!

Sleep well, Beloved Believers – I have a feeling I may not!

Psychopaths In The Pub

A very good evening to you all on an evening which is still muggy, despite some rain. I am not complaining about the heat because it will be winter soon enough (August-May) and we don’t see enough sun in this country. But that is not the point of my missive this evening – I leave meteorological predictions to those more knowledgeable than I, such as the rather lovely Tomasz Schafernaker on the BBC.

No, a rather more serious situation has arisen within the last half hour, much more serious than my original choice of topic, which was bicarbonate of soda, which I bought for the first time today. I had to search for the ‘Baking’ section of Sainsbury’s to find it and, as many of you will know, this is not a section I visit frequently – in fact, this was another first!

Before I get to the ‘serious situation’, however, I just need to ask if this is ‘Males Talking to Each Other in VERY Loud Voices’ Day? Having been in two pubs this evening with a sibling, in both we have come across large groups of males (or, even, groups of large males) speaking to each other in extremely loud voices, talking across each other as if they were appearing on Question Time, but with no David Dimbleby to calm them down or point to a member of the audience – ‘Yes, you, the lady in the pink spectacles. Yes, you. Oh, sorry, the MAN in pink spectacles’ – to ask for an opinion which is usually totally incomprehensible because the selected audience member turns into a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ and forgets all the arguments they had carefully marshalled before being asked to speak. Everyone else then boos or claps, depending on how much they’ve drunk, and the Daily Mail representative on the panel looks either very ANNOYED or very SMUG, depending on how much they’ve drunk. Piers Morgan, if he’s on the panel, just manages to look smug AND drunk.

But I digress … I now move onto the ‘serious situation’. I am typing this VERY QUIETLY because I think a PSYCHOPATH has walked into the pub and ordered a pint of Carling (that’s one clue for a start). You may remember that, a couple of years ago, I wrote an article about recognising an AXE MURDERER, although I found no correlation between this and the fact that I was reading a book about an axe murderer at the time, and I find the same lack of coincidence between the book I am currently reading (about a psychopath) and the man who has just walked into the bar… He looks ordinary, but I have finely tuned senses (often heightened by alcohol) for spotting these types. He looks mild-mannered, but the denim Jeremy Corbyn-type cloth cap and denim jacket are the real giveaway. WHO would wear double denim unless they were a psychopath, especially in a heatwave? AND he whispered when he ordered his Carling (although that could just be embarrassment) – psychopaths ALWAYS whisper. I shall make sure that he leaves the pub before me (not difficult) and I will send the aforementioned sibling ahead of me to ensure that he becomes the psychopath’s victim rather than me.
Enjoy the rest of your evening. And sleep well!

Eating Out

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Whilst I realise that it is not too long since I offered good advice on watching football and gardening (and hiring a slave to tell you that you are only human and to pour your wine), I felt that I had also learned some other useful lessons this week which needed sharing. These ‘extra-curricular’ nuggets of knowledge have been earned the hard way – by eating out. This activity is something in which I indulge purely for purposes of research, as you know, because I care about you, beloved believers, and because YOU’RE WORTH IT!
DAY 1 – LUNCH
Meet with a friend (I’ll call her Debbie for the sake of anonymity) for lunch and find that there is a mutual friend lunching in the same pub. His reason (who needs a reason for eating out????)? ‘SHE’S gone out for lunch, so I’ve decided I’M coming out for lunch.’ All this is stated in a very defensive tone. Lesson? If SHE’S gone out for lunch, she’ll be more than happy that YOU have, too – it means she won’t have to worry about cooking for you when she gets home (and PLEASE, devoted devotees, don’t reach for the ‘casual sexism’ button – you all know what I mean, and the roles can be just as easily reversed!).
DAY TWO – BIRTHDAY MEAL

dancing octopus

dancing octopus

Meet with some friends to celebrate the (belated) birthday of one of them (of course, the birthday wasn’t belated, but the celebration was, but how could the LSG write ‘to belatedly celebrate…’ and thus split an infinitive, which would break the LSG’s pedantic heart, but I digress …), arriving at the restaurant before the friends do, thus giving you the chance to study the other diners, a favourite activity of the LSG because it affords SO many opportunities for humour (or ‘taking the ‘p—s’). Couple in their mid-thirties, probably trying to recreate their recent holiday to Greece, have ordered Greek beer and wine (nothing wrong with that) and, when the owner pours their drinks, the male (although he – or she, or they – could just as easily have been trans, cis, questioning, whatever you like, demonstrating that I am fully inclusive, diverse, and non-judgemental) half of the couple says ‘Yamas’ (Greek for ‘Cheers’) and raises his glass, to which the owner replies ‘Yamas’. ‘Oh,’ exclaims the LGBTQI (for I have decided that I must now include all possibilities), ‘do you speak Greek?’ This is asked in all innocence in a restaurant called ‘Steliano’s and Sappho’s Greek Restaurant’, with posters of Greek islands, a menu consisting of purely Greek items, a drinks list of Greek wines/beers, and an owner who could only be Greek, based on accent and looks alone, and a notice telling customers that this is the ‘oldest restaurant in Derby, going strong for 33 years’ (I feel, however, that the Dolphin Inn of Derby may dispute that claim, since it says it has been around since 1530 – or is that 15.30? Whichever, the food must be getting cold.).
DAY TWO, cont’d
The friends arrive and you decide that you may now take your jacket off (since you wished to look a bit ‘dressed up’ for the arrival), but it is WITH HORROR that you realise that, although you ironed the jacket (linen, so a necessary evil), you completely forgot to remove the labels – this was in case you decided to return it after ironing and trying it on. THANK GOODNESS, the friends were so absorbed in removing their own items of clothing (only the outer ones, of course) that they didn’t spot the labels on your own items. (I should just like to point out that the linen items were bought in a SALE!)
DAY THREE
Another lunch – the sacrifices I make simply to write articles to amuse and entertain my adoring acolytes – and all I have to say is that it was GREAT FUN! Everyone should LUNCH! (I know this makes me sound like a Tory MP who’s never travelled beyond the M25 – believe me, I’m NOT!) Lunch is WONDERFUL! Lunch is for EVERYONE, even if it’s just a sandwich on a park bench or a Pot Noodle on a rainy Wednesday afternoon – LUNCH makes the heart feel lighter!

PS I still haven’t removed the labels!

Be Prepared

A very, very good morning to all my Beloved Believers and Faithful Followers! It’s unusual for me to write a post in the morning, since much of my inspiration comes from tuning in to life in the pub, as you know – not because I enjoy the drink, you understand; I go to the pub simply to find out more about what ordinary people are thinking so that I may help you, Dearest Devotees, live your life as fully as possible in the style of the Lifestyle Support Guru, although you know that you will never quite achieve such greatness.
Today, I wish to advise you on how to deal with the aristocracy, should you happen to meet any. Of course, I have an instinctive inner knowledge of how to behave in the presence of those of both high and low birth. I shall explain.

I had been invited by Radio Derby to go on Ian Skye’s morning show as a ‘Loudmouth’ (following a recommendation by a former student, which may say a lot about my style of teaching…), so I duly turned up at an unearthly hour of the morning (8.40), ready to voice my opinions on young people and Meghan Markle’s father (not together, I hasten to add).
I was shown into an empty waiting room and, shortly afterwards, another person was shown into the room. He came over to me, hand held out, and introduced himself as ‘Richard FitzHerbert’, so I introduced myself as ‘Lifestyle Support Guru’. He seemed suitably impressed… 
Two minutes later, a young chap came into the room and greeted the latest arrival with a cheery ‘Good morning, Sir Richard.’ SIR Richard!
Of course, I maintained my composure, merely contenting myself with a quick curtsey. Sadly, I couldn’t doff my hat because I wasn’t wearing one, but I have learned a sharp lesson – always carry a hat with you in case of the need to doff it. Be Prepared!
I have since learned (via that trusted site, Wikipedia) that Sir Richard Ranulph FitzHerbert, 9th Baronet, of Tissington Hall (well dressings on this week – all welcome) was once a wine merchant – this must be why I felt an immediate affinity with him! 
The programme itself was interesting, especially when a listener – I’ll call him Alan for the sake of anonymity – phoned in to offer his twopenn’orth about young people being ignored by politicians and other such charlatans. He sounded rather old and the conversation went something like this:

Ian Skye: Good morning, Alan. Do you agree that young people’s voices are being ignored?
Alan: Of course, they’re being ignored. They gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, the young generations.
IS: So, you think they have a fair point?
C: Yes, because of the young generations that gave their lives in the First and Second World wars. They aren’t listened to. They join the army and then they’re sent off to be killed in war, so they’re not listened to.
IS: Thank you very much, Alan.

There was a long, puzzled silence in the studio – even Baronets and radio presenters don’t understand everything – but, as the LSG, I understood fully where Alan was coming from and showed this insight with my comment: ‘I’d like some of what Alan’s been on.’ I had, of course, recognised that Alan had started his royal wedding party celebrations five days early and had clearly broken into a bottle of Lambrusco a little too early in the morning. It’s all about pacing yourself, Alan – believe me, having been on rugby tour weekends, I know what I’m talking about!

I have been invited to be a Loudmouth on a future occasion – put June 21st in your diary! – so I shall Be Prepared for ANY eventuality this time: I will have a hat with me, for doffing appropriately; I may also wear a dress, since it is easier to curtsey in a dress – holding out the sides of your trousers doesn’t have quite the same effect; and, finally, I may have a small hip flask of gin and Dubonnet with me, because I understand that this is the Queen’s preferred pre-lunch tipple and if it’s good enough for Her Maj, I shall certainly make an effort myself. Apparently, she also likes wine with her lunch and champagne in the evening – I may have to up my game…

Enjoy the sunshine for the rest of the day!

True Power

A very good evening to you from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I hope you have all had a thoroughly enjoyable Easter break, despite the cold and wet weather – if you have lived in the UK for most of your life, you should now know how to make the most of your time despite any inclement weather (this includes during the now-laughably named ‘summer’). Your house should be filled with ‘rainy day’ items such as Hungry Hippo, Jenga, Operation, Happy Families, Monopoly, the complete works of Shakespeare, a box set of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings and, of course, a lifetime’s subscription to Netflix. Obviously, once you have turned eighteen, all of these can be replaced by going to the pub (where you may find they have most of these items anyway).
It is through my occasional visits to the pub that I have learned what TRUE POWER is. Do not be fooled by men of little worth such as Trump or Putin or Kim Jong-un, who may try to convince the world that they have TRUE POWER simply because they have nuclear (pronounced as ‘nucular’ by some, just as ‘secretary’ becomes ‘sekettri’ and February changes to ‘Febuwari’, or ‘prostate’ to ‘prostrate’ and even ‘ask’ to ‘ax’ – such strange variations!) power. Nuclear power is not TRUE POWER!

So, what is TRUE POWER? I hear you cry in despair!
I sometimes cry in despair, beloved believers – usually when someone is in front of me at the bar placing a large order one drink at a time and then remembering that he also wanted a packet of peanuts, before turning to his friends (it usually is a ‘him’, I’m afraid) and asking, ‘What did your better half want, Hugo? Was it a Campari and soda or a daiquiri?’, to which Hugo replies, ‘I can’t remember. I’ll go and ask her.’ Hugo then returns and says, ‘She’s changed her mind. She’ll have Sex on the Beach, ha ha!’, at which point the whole group guffaws as if they’ve just heard the funniest joke in the world and some wag shouts, ‘Not here she won’t, Hugo – nowhere near the bloody beach, old thing!’, at which they all guffaw again and another wag points out that there’s a pile of workman’s sand over the road by the building site which might do instead and they all chortle merrily once more! By this time, you are ready to string Hugo and his better half up by piano wire after having stabbed the rest of the merry group with the little plastic swords used for putting the fruit into Hugo’s better half’s cocktail. But I digress…
TRUE POWER is going to the pub and:
1. having one of the ‘regular rowdies’ (who are loud but not nasty) tell you that they deliberately stayed in the town pubs the night before (Easter Sunday) because they knew it was your quiz and they didn’t want to disturb it, as they have done before when they’ve had one or two too many ‘sherbet dips’.
2. having the same ‘regular rowdy’ (who has to be in his fifties!) apologising for sitting in ‘your seat’ because he wants to watch the football, and then, when the game finishes, making a point of telling you that you can have ‘your seat’ back!
This is TRUE POWER, dear devotees, and all done without using the ‘death stare’ perfected over many years of teaching. Now I use the ‘I’m just a little old lady’ smile and the ‘I might cry if you’re nasty to me’ trembling lower lip. Works every time! Sleep well, ardent admirers.