This morning, when I rocked up to my office, there was a guy apparently passed out across three of the parking spaces outside. I couldn’t tell much about him – he was asleep/comatose rather than visibly wounded or bleeding – but it still wasn’t a great situation. In particular I was aware of the upcoming rush hour, and of the speed (and stupidity, and lack of observational powers) of various drivers peeling into apparently empty parking spaces.
I didn’t know whether he’d chosen to sleep there, or had fallen over the railings separating the parking spaces from the pavement and bus stops.
So I ended up calling 101 (the non-emergency number for police services) to report the issue, and let the professionals handle it. As it turned out, I should’ve called 111 instead (the non-emergency number for NHS) but I’d forgotten that one, but remembered 101.
Anyway, the details were taken – but what surprised (and depressed) me was that my call was the first they’d heard of this particular man. It’s particularly depressing because where he was, he’d been completely visible to any number of people waiting at the bus-stop on the other side of the railings. (The bus-stop and pavement are slightly raised from the car-park level, so he was definitely visible)
I do understand that a lot of people don’t want to get involved, or all assume that someone else will be doing something. But still, I know that if it were me laying there, I’d at least hope that someone would call the emergency services about me as well.
I don’t know, maybe I’m still feeling all optimistic and stuff, but it just pisses me off when people simply ignore those in need. And yes, I probably could’ve done more as well – although my first-aid knowledge is rudimentary, and old – but I did what seemed right at the time.
(Oh, and to close this particular tale, he was OK, but intoxicated, and got taken to hospital as a precaution – I saw the ambulance people as they were about to leave, and asked how he was)
This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.
The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.
It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)
Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.
All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.
The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story) I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?
The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago. Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.
I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such. Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?
Following on from Valentine’s Day, Channel 4 has a documentary series going about people who have allowed themselves to be paired up by scientists and specialists, signing up to meet on their wedding day. (It turns out that this is actually the third series of it in the UK – and the results on the previous two series haven’t been all that promising!)
They’ve done it with some run-up in order to do all the stuff like declarations of intent to marry, telling family and friends, and make all the preparations. So they get told that they’ve been paired up (and are now ‘engaged’) and then six weeks later they’ll meet for the first time and get married.
Thursday’s episode was the first one, and basically all the set-up and preparations. From there I assume it’ll be about the aftermath, and how they work out once the wedding is done.
Marriage is something that, to be honest, leaves me cold – it really hasn’t ever appealed to me at all, and it’s never been on the list of Things To Do. And so far, there’s never been anyone I’ve been with who’s changed that opinion, or made me think differently about it at all.
But I do still find it an interesting concept, and the whole arranged-marriage type thing, of seeing how people handle that and so on. Whether I continue watching the programme or not is a different matter, but for now it’s at least vaguely interesting. We’ll see.
About 18 months ago, I went to see Fish (the ex-lead-singer of Marillion) at a gig in Aylesbury, including performing the whole of Marillion‘s “Misplaced Childhood” album for its 30th anniversary.
This year, it was announced he’d be touring again, and this time performing both stuff from the new album, and the whole of the “Clutching At Straws” album – again, for its 30th anniversary.
As with “Childhood”, “Straws” isn’t among my all-time favourite albums, but they both got played a lot as I grew up, so it was still of interest to go and see it performed live. And I’m glad I did.
The gig started with some old favourites, but nothing new. And there was a reason for that – he hasn’t actually written the new album yet, let alone released it. When they advertised the gigs and organised the tour, they expected it to be done, but life got in the way. So… some classics instead of new stuff. Fine with me, and apparently fine with most of the audience too.
As for the performance of “Straws” itself, that was excellent, and brought back a bundle of memories of listening to the album, as well as re-realising just how bleak it is in places. There were also parts of it that they’d never performed live before this tour, including one track that was ad-libbed at the time, so Fish had to listen to the album in order to write down the lyrics to learn them for performance. Which is, when you think about it, pretty messed up.
Anyway, the gig was one I really enjoyed – in spite of the audience. As always, I really don’t understand the mindset of people who go to a concert, and then spend the entire gig going to and from the bar, and the toilet. The three people in front of me (it was a seated gig) were barely ever in their seats, and kept walking off. That’s not just a waste of their time and money, it’s also insanely annoying for the people around them, getting constantly disturbed and having to move.
But, audience aside, it was a good gig. It might be the last time he tours, it might not. It’s likely the last chance to see “Straws” performed like that, so it was definitely worth going.
On Friday morning, while it was still dark, I started the car to go to the client office – and one of the headlight bulbs blew.
I’m not a fan of driving with one bulb out, but in this case it was going to have to happen, so off I went, a bit more carefully than usual, as a bigger swathe of the road than usual was in darkness.
On the way home though, I dropped in to one of the local(ish) Halfords, and got a new bulb sorted and fitted. Yeah, in theory I could fit it myself – but seeing the struggle the lad had with getting to it (the space was extremely tight/narrow) I’d have had issues, so it makes sense to get them to do it. (Also, when he opened the packaging for the first bulb and dropped the bulb through the engine block, he just went to get a replacement – that wouldn’t have happened if it’d been me doing it!)
From start to finish, it took less than half an hour – even with the difficulties the lad had. And all for less than £20.
I really don’t get why so many people seem to have problems with getting bulbs replaced. Some people I see in the village have had the same bulb out for weeks, if not months. I understand that sometimes you just get used to the problem existing, rather than fixing it – but at the same time, working headlights are a pretty basic requirement, I’d have said.
And besides, if it’s only £20 all-in to fix it, really, I don’t get the point of not bothering. but maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all.
Another in my list of “People I Don’t Understand” pieces…
I do wonder sometimes about people, and what goes through their minds. On occasion, I’m pretty sure that the only thing that should be allowed through their thought processes is a sledgehammer.
One of those occasions – which comes up with depressing regularity – is what logical process leads people to block toilets with paper. It’s not ‘used’ paper (it’s always surprisingly white and mark-free) so it’s more that they’ve just decided to fill the bowl with paper. Why? I have no fucking idea.
There are some places that seem more prone to it than others. Most Wetherspoons pubs, in my experience. The majority of cinemas. But really, it seems like anywhere that’s got shared facilities (by which I mean where they’re publically accessible, rather than a private “it’s mine and mine alone” set-up) is fair game.
I’d love to see someone who’s just done it, stop them, and ask why, ask what went on in their braincell to think it would be a good/fun thing to do. However, weirdly you also never get to see someone doing it, you just always come in to the aftermath.
[PIDU = People I Don’t Understand]
There are many, many types of people I don’t understand – or at least whose thought processes are beyond me. That’s the theme of the PIDU posts (as mentioned here, although I’ll probably repeat this a few times) and may also become a bit of a throwback to the rants of yore.
In this case, I don’t understand people who buy performance cars, and whose driving abilities can’t match the car at all.
I’m not even talking about high-end performance vehicles like Ferraris and the like. No, this is even down to the level of a standard (for example) VW Golf GTI. Anything that’s at the higher-end of performance than the standard models of cars.
As an aside, I also don’t really get why anyone in the UK would bother buying any of the seriously high-end performance cars, when our top legal speed can be attained by them in second or third gear. But that’s a thought for a different time.
A lot of the drives I do are on country roads – still decent-enough roads, which I can easily (as well as legally and safely) cover at 55-60mph with no problems. But they’re narrow enough, and bendy enough, that if you’re stuck behind someone, you’re stuck behind them for the duration.
I regularly end up behind other drivers, usually in cars with a much better performance than my shitty Kia – yet we’re going at 40mph instead, and they’re still braking at every sodding corner, and panicking when another car comes towards them.
Last night was a perfect example – I spent the drive following a beautiful Lotus Evora 400 (one of my current favourite cars) that did the entire thing not going above 50mph, and usually slower than that. It was a total waste of a brilliant little car, and I almost wanted to stop them, and suggest we swapped vehicles.
I just don’t get it, why someone/anyone would pay out a load more on a sporty/performance car – and on the commensurate higher-rated insurance and so on – when they’re just going to drive it slowly and badly. It seems to be a case of either “More money than sense” or just believing they’re better at driving than they actually are.