Old folk at lunch

Friday, June 23, 2017

The chuckout continues



I noted on 14th that I was throwing out my collection of (mostly) classical novels.  And I listed half of them as a first step.  At that time I held back all the books with nice bindings (hard covers, mostly gold lettering on spine) and a few others.  I found them a bit hard to let go. But I have discovered new strength from somewhere and am about to throw out my pretty books too.  I list them below for anyone interested.  My last list got 50% mopped up by readers of this blog and Joe has just boxed up and taken away the remainder.  So now on to step 2:


Asimov, I. Collection
Austen, J. Collected works
Australian writers collection: M. Franklin; H. Richardson; A. Gunn, R. Park
Boccaccio, G, Decameron
Boldrewood, R. Robbery under arms
Bronte, C. Jane Eyre
Cervantes, M. Don Quixote
Chesterton, G. Complete Father Brown
Conrad, J. Collection
Dickens, C. Tale of two cities
Dickens, C. Oliver Twist
Dickens, C. Great expectations
Dickens, C. The old curiosity shop
Doyle, A. Sherlock Holmes collection
Durrell, L. Alexandria quartet
Eliot, T. Cocktail party
Goldsmith, O. Vicar of Wakefield
Guareschi, G. Don Camillo omnibus
Guareschi, G. Comrade Don Camillo
Hawthorne, N. House of the seven gables
Hemingway, Islands in the stream
Herbert, F. Dune
Hughes, T. Tom brown's schooldays
Humphries, B. More please
Kipling, R. Kim
Kingsley, C.  Hereward the wake
Kingsley, C.  Westward ho
Lewis, S. The god seekers
Pepys. S. Diary selections
Priestley, J. Bright day
Richardson, H. The fortunes of Richard Mahony
Scott, W. The fair maid of Perth
Shaw, G. Complete plays
Simenon, G. Maigret and the madwoman
Simenon, G. Maigret hesitates
Simenon, G. Maigret's boyhood friend
Simenon, G. Maigret and the lazy burglar
Simenon, G. Maigret and the headless corpse
Sterne, L. Sentimental journey
Sterne, L. Tristram Shandy
Stevenson, R. Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde
Stevenson, R. New Arabian nights
Stevenson, R. The Amateur emigrant
Stevenson, R. The wrong box
Stevenson, R. Kidnapped
Tolstoy, L.  War & peace (3 vols.)
Trollope, A. Collected novels
Wilde, O. Collected works


Next to go will be my "serious" books

Monday, June 19, 2017

My experience buying boots is the perfect example of why retail is declining



I originally wrote this for one of my political blogs but I think it has a place here too.  I sympathize with the woman's story below.  I have had experiences like this more or less forever.  It's worst of all in Britain but it crops up a lot in Australia too.  Computer shops are the worst -- I have written about them before --  but clothing shops can be bad too.  My most recent experience was from 28 August 2015, when I was trying to buy bespoke shoes.  My feet are a bit swollen due to a medical condition so regular shoes that fit me are hard to find.

So I went in to BFS Pedorthics in 128 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba  -- a specialist in bespoke shoes. Nobody was serving but I found a pair of shoes that suited me on the display and got out my $200+ to pay for them.  But nobody would acknowledge me.  The blonde receptionist was glued to her phone and when I went out the back nobody there wanted to help either.  So I went elsewhere and bought a suitable pair of shoes for $60.00.

So the blonde bitch saved me money but I felt sorry for the owner, a Mr Tye. So I wrote him the following letter:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This morning I made a special trip into your Logan Rd shop in order to buy a special type of shoe I need.  There was no-one to assist me but I did find a pair that seemed right.  They appeared to be over $200 but that was OK.

I could not however find anyone to take my money.  There was a young blonde there but she was glued to her phone and I could not unglue her.  I went out the back but no-one there was willing to help either

May I suggest that you train your workshop staff to handle customers if need be?

I also think that a customer who walks in should have priority over someone who just picks up a phone but that is for you to decide.  As it is you missed out on my $200+

I was offended by the lack of service that I received

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Was Mr Tye bothered by the fact that his receptionist took $200 out of his pocket?  Who knows?  He never replied.  The blonde probably intercepted the letter before he saw it. But I did what I could for the man anyway.


SOMEWHERE in the corporate headquarters of retailers, meetings are taking place.

Entire executive teams are seated around the boardroom table, laptops open, spreadsheets and sales charts as far as the eyes can see. No doubt the scent of caffeine permeates the air because everyone knows these meetings can be quite tiring.

The first slide comes up on to the wall and shows sales on a steady decline. Some of the stores this retailer operates have had days without making a single sale.

“It makes no sense,” opens the property development manager, “the shop is in an ideal location and the centre is really busy at the moment. There’s loads of passing traffic.”

“We have ample stock and the product range is up to the minute,” adds the planner.

“So why aren’t we selling any shoes?” wonders the sales manager.

It must be highly frustrating for this bunch of suits. They must be wondering why their businesses are not making money, and I know the answer.

Recently I went shopping with the express purpose of buying a pair of boots. I knew what I wanted; colour, style, price point — I had the whole thing sorted.

I was so confident in my pursuit I even wrangled my husband into joining me, there was going to be no endless dilly dallying, no hours spent browsing — just me and my credit card going into a shop and exiting with a pair of short-heeled, brown ankle boots.

The first store we went to didn’t have them. No drama, there is a shop across the way from them that seems to have an extensive collection of winter boots.

The fact that the stores are this close together doesn’t surprise me, I know the head honchos at headquarters like to position their stores in proximity for this very reason — if I don’t like what the first shop offers I am primed and ready for the next shop selling brown boots.

I enter the store and immediately see the boot I like. I also see the sales woman standing at the counter peering at her laptop. I take the shoe off the shelf and look to see what size it is. The saleswoman takes out a highlighter and starts to highlight things that are much more important than customers.

I walk over to her and ask her if she has the boots in my size. My husband asks her if she has a pair of socks that I can try them on with. She says no. It’s the only word she has said to us and we’re not sure if she’s saying no to the socks or the boots.

But then she reluctantly leaves her computer to retrieve the correctly sized boots which she thrusts at me before returning to her desk. I assume the no was for the socks. Clearly she is very busy and far too important to be selling shoes.

In fact she’s far too busy to serve customers. This I know because while I am trying on the boots two more customers enter the shop and she ignores them as well.

I’m not suggesting that the woman employed by the company to sell their products should fawn over me or tell me my feet look perfect in the boots. It’s just that the sale of product under her watch goes some way to paying her salary. Is it too much to expect her to assist the sale in some way?

Maybe she had really important documents to read and highlight, documents that couldn’t wait a single minute. But she lost my sale and the other two customers also walked out empty-handed.

Sadly she’s not alone in her refusal to sell the products she’s employed to shift, in fact she’s just one of the many people I encountered sitting behind their counters that day.

And before you blame Millennials or Generation X or any other group who you’d like to point at, let me assure you that the people refusing to help customers by actively avoiding contact with them, do not belong to one demographic or age group.

This is a retail issue. And with Amazon literally primed to enter the Australian marketplace and completely change the retail landscape surely it’s time for bricks and mortar businesses to step up the service a notch.

Somewhere in the race to be competing online it seems likes these businesses have forgotten to train their staff, or at least to incentivise them to do their jobs.

I eventually went online myself where I didn’t except any service other than an easy-to-load shopping cart. But I can’t help thinking about those people in head office who are wondering why their shoes aren’t being sold in their physical outlets.

It’s simply because no one is selling them.

SOURCE

Friday, June 16, 2017

Russian ladies and Slavic ladies generally



For many years I admired female persons from behind the Iron Curtain.  The curtain is now gone but Russian ladies still make waves in the West. Most billionaires seem to have one.  Czech ladies are pretty good too.  Mind you, I have always been particularly impressed by the gorgeous ladies of Poland

A friend of mine from Poland -- Janusz -- related to me that when he would be walking along a street in Poland, you would often see a lady so attractive that you would just stop watch her go by.  That had never happened to him in Australia.   Despite being loyal to my own ethnic group, I did have some idea of what he meant.  I have met some gorgeous Polish ladies in Australia.

I have however arrived at old age without experiencing an Eastern European lady in my life but I am content

However, it so happens that there are TWO Russian ladies I see occasionally. They are just friends but very bright and lively ones of my own vintage.  And, like ALL Russians abroad that I know of, they have praise for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  And I do too.  He attends his Russian Orthodox church,  slaughters Jihadis and tries to point out that Russia should be respected as the world's biggest country -- stretching from Vladivostok in the Pacific right across the Eurasian continent to Petersburg in the Baltic.  Even aside from their beautiful ladies, Russians have much to be proud of.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Curry, books and a birthday



My week started out well. Joe is in Sydney so on Monday I cooked up an Achar Gosht Keema for Kate and Jenny. That's curried mince in plain English.  I got a packet of Achar Gosht masala (curry powder) from an Indian shop and tipped the whole of it into 500g of semi-fatty mince plus a can of tomatoes and some celery.  And the result was quite tasty.  We had it with rice, raita and chutney.  You need a bit of fat in a curry to carry the flavour.

My post about books I was giving away had by that time attracted some interest.  Jenny saw some she wanted and even Kate picked up some she felt she should have read but had not yet done so. I think "1984" was one of them.

Ken is a great bibliophile so he came over after dinner at about 8pm with a long list of the books he wanted.  I made him wait until the ladies had taken their pick however.  But both ladies were very gracious and offered to give Ken one or two from their selection if Ken was really after it.  Ken did take up that offer for an anthology of an author he liked. Having nice ladies in your life is a great boon

And Jenny had just acquired a second-hand cat so she showed Kate pictures of it and they had a very lively discussion about cats.  Kate is a cat lady.

So it was quite a jolly evening

Then on Tuesday it was a dinner at Anne's place in honour of sister June's birthday.  So as well as Anne and me, June and Ralph were along.  June and Ralph both live in the same oldie establishment and Ralph is the 84-year-old widower of Merle, the deceased sister of Anne and June.  I like Ralph.

Anne did well with the dinner.  She served up pieces of prawn on Jatz for canapes, followed by a very tasty casserole with mashed sweet potato plus greens.  June brought along some very good apple crumble that she had made and I contributed a bottle of Henkel Trocken, a German "champagne" that Anne particularly likes.

June is a rather cheerful person and I stir things up so the conversation flowed.

Then today I saw Dr. Cockburn about my latest excision.  And we agreed that it had gone well.  So for the first time since March 1st I now have no surgical dressings on me


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Books, books, books



Like all academics I know, I have always collected books.  I even read most of them.  When I was a kid I used to read two or three kids' books a week until I had read everything from that collection in the local library.  At that point they reluctantly gave me access to the main collection, from which I read a lot of history, mainly.

And when I got my first job I spent part of my earnings on BUYING books.  I remember the first such I bought:  A collection of Plato's Socratic dialogues:  Unusual reading matter for a teenager in a small Australian country town but it probably tells you what I am.  And most of my reading from then on was in history and philosophy, plus most of the classical Greek canon.

I moved around a fair bit in my early life and books are a huge anchor when you do that so every time I moved I would give away half of my books.  So my book collection got steadily whittled down to the books I most particularly liked -- mostly classic novels and various reference books.

And now I have arrived at a new time in life -- where books are mostly obsolete.  Whatever people read these days, they mostly read it off a screen --  online or on Kindle.  Even I do that.  Even when I have a relevant reference book, I don't use it.  I just Google it and read online the bit I want.

So I have come to the sad conclusion that it is time to give half of my novels away.  I don't want to dissociate myself from them completely, however. So I have decided to list below the books I am abandoning:


Andrews, J.  Shamela
Asimov, I. Banquets of the black widowers
Braine, J.  Room at the top
Brickhill, P.  Reach for the sky
Bronte, C.  Wuthering Heights
Burroughs, E. Tarzan, Lord of the jungle
Butler, S. Erewhon
Caldwell, A. God's little acre
Capote, T. Breakfast at Tiffany's
Chesterton, G. The club of queer trades
Clarke, A. Cradle
Collins, T. Such is life
Conrad, J. Heart of darkness
Cooper, J. The last of the Mohicans
Defoe, D. Journal of the plague year
Dickens, C. Pickwick papers
Dickens, C.  David Copperfield
Dostoyevsky, F. Crime and punishment
Doyle, A. A study in scarlet and The sign of four
Doyle, A. Great stories
Dumas, A. The three musketeers
Dumas, A.  The black tulip
Eco, U. The name of the rose
Eliot, G. The mill on the floss
Eliot, G. Silas Marner
Faulkner, W.  Absalom, Absalom
Faulkner, W.  The sound and the fury
Fielding, H.  Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. The last tycoon
Forster, E. Room with a view
Forster, E. A passage to India
Gray, Z. The call of the canyon
Haggard, H. King Solomon's mines
Hardy, T.  The return of the native
Hawthorne, N. The scarlet letter
Heller, J. Catch 22
Hugo, V. Les Miserables
Hugo, V.  The hunchback of Notre Dame
James, H. The ambassadors
James, H. Short stories
Lawrence, D. Sons and lovers
Lawrence, D. Lady Chatterley' lover
Lawrence, D. The Prussian officer
Lawrence, D.  Three novellas
Lawrence, D.  Women in love
Lawrence, D.  The rainbow
Lawson, H. Joe Wilson's mates
Lewis, S. The God-seeker
Mackenzie, C.  Rockets galore
Mann, T. Death in Venice
Marlowe, C.  The tragedy of Dr. Faustus
Maugham, W. Of human bondage
Maugham, W. Points of view
Maugham, W. Painted veil
Meyer, N.  The seven percent solution
Moravia, A. Roman tales
Orczy, B. The scarlet Pimpernel
Orwell, G. Animal farm
Orwell, G. Coming up for air
Orwell, G. A clergyman's daughter
Powell, A. Hearing secret harmonies
Powell, A. Valley of bones
Rand, A.  The early Ayn Rand
Rand, A. Fountainhead
Reade, C. The cloister and the hearth
Richardson, H.  Maurice Guest
Richardson, S. Pamela
Roth, P.  Portnoy's complaint
Scott, W. Waverley
Scott, W. Quentin Durward
Shelley, M. Frankenstein
Simenon, G. Maigret stonewalled
Simenon, G. Third omnibus
Smollet, T. The expedition of Humphry Clinker
Steinbeck, J. Grapes of wrath
Stevenson, R. The master of Ballantrae
Swift, J. Gulliver's travels
Thackeray, W.  Henry Esmond
Thackeray, W.  Vanity Fair
Thackeray, W.  Barry Lyndon
Thoreau, H. Walden
Tolstoy, L. Anna Karenin
Warren, R.  All the king's men
Waugh, A. Path of dalliance
Waugh, A. Who are the violets now?
Waugh, A. Consider the lilies
Waugh, E. Scoop
Waugh, E. A handful of dust
Wells, H. Short stories
Wells, H. Tono Bungay
Wells, H. The war of the worlds
West, M. The shoes of the fisherman
Woolf, V.  Moments of being
Yates, D. Blood Royal
Young, F. Dr. Bramley remembers

I am pretty sure that people can access copies of all those books online.  I have kept the more recent ones that may not be online. If anybody would like a book above and can collect it, be my guest.  I won't be taking any of them to the charity shop for maybe a week.