A very merry Christmas to all my Faithful Followers (FFs), Delightful Devotees (DDs) and Beloved Believers (BBs) – this sounds rather like a bra advert! – who, as I write, will be in the middle of preparing for the festive jollities and may well be feeling somewhat stressed. I am here to offer some information on how I am preparing for the days ahead in the hope that you may be able to use some of this information in future years, since I fear that it may be too late for this year.
1. Take the cats to their holiday home and feel a little sad that they seem to settle in very quickly and may have already forgotten you before you have even left the building. However, the plus side is that you can now pack your suitcase without having to check every ten minutes that one of them hasn’t sneaked inside.
2. As you are returning home, you decide to call in at Sainsbury’s for something to eat, since you have very little in the fridge, apart from a couple of old slices of low calorie corned beef (see an earlier post for information on low calorie corned beef), some Brie and a rather smelly Stilton (thinks – ‘but I do have a bottle of port that would go nicely with the Stilton…’) and you are completely out of Pot Noodles. The car park is so busy that they have attendants guiding you to parking spaces and you are pointed towards a tiny space between an estate car and a large Freelander which has, of course, parked over the white line between spaces (this is a privilege reserved for those who own unnecessarily large cars that they can’t park properly). Even with the LSG’s tiny car and superlative parking ability, you realise that this is going to be more than just a tight squeeze and that you will not be able to get out of the car even if you manage to park it, so you drive off and find your own parking space, well away from any spatially-challenged 4×4 owners.
3. Decide that you will have the Sainsbury’s Christmas Lunch Special, since, in your mind, you can still hear your mother saying, ‘You’ve got to have turkey and sprouts at least once at Christmas.’ (inside, you are still a child crying, ‘Why?’, but you do as your mother tells you). Whilst waiting for the festive feast, you peruse a copy of the Daily Mail and realise that you are living in a different world from the Mail’s, where anger, rage and disgust seem to be the default emotions. I always feel as if I have been slapped across the backs of my hands with a wooden ruler after reading this fine example of unbiased, open-minded, British journalism.
Eat three Brussels sprouts (two more than usual) in penance.
4. Get home and realise that you STILL haven’t written many Christmas cards and that any you may write now will not arrive in time for Christmas (especially since you haven’t got any stamps either), so it looks as if you may have to send them late and include one of those dreaded Round Robin letters explaining why your card is so late – would they believe it if you said that you had been helping out at a homeless shelter or delivering food parcels to lonely old people? No, I didn’t think so, either.
5. There is only one thing to do to rescue you from sinking into a deep depression (other than going to the pub, of course – that will come later…) – check in online for your forthcoming holiday to a warm and sunny destination where you can sit and sip a chilled glass of white Rioja as you are soothed by the sound of the sea gently lapping in the background and contemplate everyone else having to listen to ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ for the 100th time (although you know you may tire of ‘Feliz Navidad’ after a little while).
6. Send email to siblings to apologise for not sending Christmas cards, but explain that you have been helping out at a homeless shelter and delivering food parcels to lonely old people.
Have a lovely Christmas, everyone!
Stuff what I have learned this week:
A very good day from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Today I am going to share with you some pieces of wisdom that I feel may help you, faithful followers, in your journey along this rocky road laughingly called ‘life’. As far as I can tell, ‘life’ is what you make it and what you make of it – in my case, perfection has almost been achieved. I say ‘almost’ because to say that I am perfect would be rather bold and would imply that I have nothing left to learn. Nothing could be further from the truth, beloved believers – I am constantly learning (for example, Spanish at the moment) and would never be so presumptuous as to think that I know everything (although some might accuse me of being a ‘know-it-all’, but I put that down to jealousy, pure and simple).
But I digress; here is what I have learned this week, which I hope will be of some use in your own miserable and worthless existences (and please do not think that I insult you by referring to your lives in such words; I use them only in a sense relative to the almost blissful state in which I, the LSG, exist). (Again, note the use of the word ‘almost’, showing my true humility.)
1. If you are on a diet (or, as I prefer to say, starving yourself to death), you would be wise to buy a packet of six corned beef slices from Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available but I haven’t checked their corned beef slices) rather than a packet of three, since there are fewer calories in each slice in the six-pack – in fact, 10 fewer calories per slice, saving you 60 calories in all! This difference in calories I regard as one of the great unsolved mysteries of the world.
2. If you visit a National Trust property with extensive grounds where the entrance is some distance from the car park, try to follow someone of ‘mature years’ to the initial information point where she will ask if it is possible to have a lift on the electric buggy to the entrance. With luck (of which I have an inordinate amount), she will turn around and ask if you would also like a lift – I admit I may have been looking a little fragile (a practised look) and I may (just ‘may’) have exaggerated the limp slightly – so you accept (reluctantly, of course) and drag youngest sibling on with you. At first he is a little unhappy at being driven on what is, essentially, an oversized mobility scooter, but soon starts enjoying himself when we use the royal wave as we zoom past the hordes making their way to the entrance on foot. Indeed, he enjoyed himself so much that it was he who insisted on ordering the buggy for the return journey after we had spent an exhausting hour eating parsnip and apple soup and perusing the items for sale in the shop. No calories were harmed in this activity.
3. If you decide to visit Leeds, be aware that it is a VERY big city. It takes EIGHT minutes just to walk from the car park to your hotel – you could do almost the whole of Derby in this time! This time does not include checking Google Maps every two minutes before realising it would be quicker to ask a passer-by for accurate directions, nor stopping to look in a shop window to admire a rather nice large, green, woolly scarf just right for winter and making a mental note to look for said scarf in the Derby branch of the shop (sibling’s comment: ‘Looks expensive.’ Personal thought: ‘And?’).
And there you have the collected wisdom of yet another LSG visit ‘oop north’ – next week I shall be buying a flat cap and a whippet after building a homing pigeon reserve in the back yard.
A very good afternoon from the Lifestyle Support Guru. Today, I wish to offer a cautionary little tale, as recounted to me by a close friend, in the hope that I may save you some money. Let me set the scene:
This close friend, having successfully ordered groceries on a previous occasion using ‘Click and Collect’, decided to use this facility again, partly because this stops her wandering around the store itself and ending up buying things she doesn’t need (I.e. clothes) and partly because it means she doesn’t have to get annoyed with others of the older generation who seem to think that supermarket shopping is some sort of social occasion, blocking the aisles while they discuss their ailments and what they watched on telly last night .
The friend goes to collect her order and the very nice ‘Click and Collect’ man (no, you can’t actually click and collect a man, but one can live in hope…) tells her that there is only one change to her order. The conversation goes as follows
CacMan: They’ve only managed to supply 11 packets of frozen Golden Vegetable Rice, not the 12 you ordered.
Friend: TWELVE??? (in a high-pitched squeal, an octave higher than normal)
C: Didn’t you want 12?
F: (Still in a voice that only dogs would be able to hear) No, I only wanted 2. I haven’t got the freezer space for 12.
C: That’s OK. I can change the order.
F: Oh, thank you so much.
C: Don’t worry – people do that all the time. I had one customer who wanted 3 kilos of bananas but ordered 30 kilos by mistake. Took me half an hour to load them into her car.
CacMan loads the rest of the order into the car and the friend decides to say nothing when this includes a bag containing 12 packets of the most expensive cat food (because, like the LSG, she
has pets of the feline variety), which she only uses as a special treat or to tempt a jaded palate and normally buys just in ones or twos. Luckily, she knows they won’t go to waste because Malcolm-the-strangely-named-cat-from-Australia (yes, by an AMAZING coincidence, the close friend also has a cat with such a name – who’d have thought it?) is a little under the weather at the moment, so she needs to try and feed him up.
And the lesson to be learned? When ordering online, don’t assume that putting a 2 in the ‘Quantity’ box will automatically replace the default 1 – it simply adds it next to the 1 to make 12!
I think Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available) needs to change its slogan:
‘You CAN live well for less…if you’re not an idiot’.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, dear followers, and eat well. I’m thinking of a nice rice salad accompanied by ‘steamed tuna in a tasty gravy for your favourite feline companion’.
Good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru, once again here to guide you across life’s babbling brooks, raging rivers and terrifying torrents. Surely, you must think, there cannot be much more that the LSG can teach us? She has already helped us with so much, such as what to say to a lady with her dress tucked in her knickers, how to deal with marauding monkeys, and enjoying a night out in Barnsley (or all three together, if this takes your fancy).
Oh, my faithful followers, there is still so much to learn, including when you may use exclamation marks, as laid down by our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful but beloved government (I may have made that last bit up).
Today, however, I wish to share with you some of the deeper thoughts I have gathered from listening to those around me and, thus, help you to avoid making a complete fool of yourself by repeating such silly things. I shall also include some photographic evidence so that you may make up your own minds.
The first ‘jewels’ are all courtesy of my acquaintance, TT (the Tiny Tyke), who has featured in previous posts because of his wide-ranging level of knowledge (believing that the English for Beaujolais is Bordeaux, for example). He was studying some of my glorious photos of African scenes (in other words, I was showing him my holiday photos, yawn, yawn) and, upon seeing a
typical African street scene of crowds of people selling fruit and vegetables and anything else that might bring in a few Tanzanian shillings, he remarked, ‘I love little market towns’, as if he were looking at a picture of Pickering in North Yorkshire!
Upon seeing another street scene with concrete crossings across rainwater ditches, his comment was, ‘That reminds me of the canals you see when you come into Birmingham on the train.’
And finally, while looking at a photo of a main road crowded with vehicles of all shapes and sizes, he commented that he couldn’t understand ‘why they only ever seem to have one main road running through African countries’. I patiently explained that this might have something to do with the arid wilderness and wild animals found in many such countries, so there’s no real point in having another road, since you are likely either to end up dying of dehydration or serving as a packed lunch for a lion (or both?).
But TT is not the only one who has given me pause for thought with his observations. I overheard a conversation in the pub the other night when two men were discussing Burns Night (yes, I know it’s April, but Derby occasionally takes some time to catch up with other, more forward-looking towns and cities). One of the gentlemen said that he didn’t know the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and he’d never tried haggis because he’d never been to Scotland. In the next breath, he said that his favourite food is curry. With my most innocent face on, I asked him if he’d ever been to India. ‘No, of course not,’ he replied, with no hint of irony.
I shall finish with an example of something which still puzzles me: why would my youngest sibling, over a Sainsbury’s ‘Junior Breakfast’, ask me if I had ever thought of working on Sainsbury’s checkout when I retired? Dearest devotees, much as I admire Sainsbury’s checkout staff, I am afraid that I would have to consider Waitrose at the very least!
Do play along with ‘Spot the difference’ in the photos…