The Meerkat Muse – 12th July 2023

White daisies in sunshine

We are into July, the month that traditionally sees summer kick off in earnest. Will that actually pan out though?! Anyway, on with the Muse.

Lines of Responsibility

Last month (well, actually, at the end of May, or arguably early May) I made a small error with an order. The customer wanted a wall-hung vanity unit, and I sold them a floor-standing one. The prices happened to be the same (which is unusual), and the numbers on the codes are one digit different. This error was not picked up when the order was first placed in early May, and the customer took delivery at the end of May, whereupon they too did not realise they’d received a floor-standing unit instead of a wall-hung one. The item sat in the customer’s property for nearly a month, and when the fitter opened it, they apparently had to rip apart the packaging in order to get to the unit, at which point they realised it was incorrect.

We’ll overlook how the packaging clearly stated it was a floor-standing unit. The big issue here is ‘at what point does responsibility transfer?’ I accept I placed the wrong item on the order. The customer’s argument is that any consequences are therefore not their fault. Needless to say, our customer services department do not share that view, and nor do I. If you buy a burger in a restaurant, eat half of it, and then decide it wasn’t what you ordered, can you reasonably expect the waiting staff to be held fully responsible? If you wish to return anything, it’s a fair expectation for the item to be returned in a re-sellable condition, which includes the packaging. I can appreciate the original problem was not of the customer’s making, and I can appreciate I have to take my share of the responsibility here, but surely you take the time to check the items (in fact, this is enshrined in our terms and conditions), and if the item has been on site for nearly a month, you cannot argue you had no opportunity to check either the item or the paperwork.

For all I know, I ordered exactly what they asked for, but I am willing to concede I probably made a mistake. What I am not prepared to accept that every last consequence comes down to me or the store. At some point, there has to be a transfer of responsibility.

French Trips

On the 29th of June, my daughter went on a school trip to France. They went as far as the northern coastal town of Boulogne, where they visited a bakery (in theory to see how croissants are made, and to even have a go at it, though this didn’t happen) and an aquarium, among other things. The trouble with coach trips is that there is never quite enough time to take in everything properly, and this afflicted the trip. My daughter was looking forward to having a go at making a croissant, and said the teachers rushed everyone through the aquarium. They had a specific ferry to catch, and I dare say spent more time on the coach than anywhere else. Unfortunately, the school didn’t manage to book the Channel Tunnel, which would have been considerably quicker than a ferry crossing, and that probably hampered their chance to truly enjoy themselves.

Still, my daughter enjoyed the trip. It was a looooooong day (a 3.45am start), but it was something different to the norm.


Whilst my daughter was off in France, my wife and I took advantage of the opportunity to see a movie. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was the film of choice. This final adventure for one of Harrison Ford’s most beloved characters has no qualms about exploring the character’s age, though I have to say that the most entertaining sequence of the film came at the start, where de-aging technology applied to Ford’s face gave us classic Indy fight scenes that could have come straight from the 80s.

This is Ford’s final film as Indiana Jones. He has already retired as Han Solo, and now this other iconic character has said his last goodbye. It gives you pause. I grew up with the era of ‘classic’ action heroes. Bruce Willis is now retired, as the sad result of a dementia diagnosis. There’s no telling when the likes of Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger might decide they’ve had enough. Other actors involved in venerable franchises are sadly already gone, such as the dearly departed and much-loved Leonard Nimoy (Spock from Star Trek). The likes of William Shatner will not be reprising his legendary role as James T. Kirk. Patrick Stewart is most likely done with Jean-Luc Picard. These actors and characters formed the backbone of what I enjoyed watching, for at least two decades. It is not easy to say goodbye to all of that.

Traffic Jams and Trade Shows

Recall last year that I went and took part in a trade show near south-west London? Well, I volunteered to do so again the other weekend. The way I see it, I’m helping a friend (who happens to be the regional manager!), and this has to be a feather in my cap, right? The journey to the venue was smooth last year and smooth this year. The journey back last year was a little longer, but nothing compared to the Saturday next time. We spent five frickin’ hours stuck on the M25, barely moving, thanks to a vehicle fire further down the line.

Now, it goes without saying that I hope no one was hurt, and the time spent immobile served to have me reflect upon the uselessness of impotent anger. Getting angry over a traffic jam is meaningless. It’s frustrating, especially when there’s no end in sight, but raging over it won’t magically make the cars start moving. Getting stressed over issues that I can’t change is pointless, and it’s something I am trying to do better at.

The show itself followed a similar format to last year, with lots of stalls doing what they could to entice potential customers. For the store nearest the venue, there has been plenty of prospective business, but the location – the other side of London to where I work – doesn’t really allow for much extra business for me or my in-store colleagues. Still, I helped my friend out, and did my part for the company. Was it a ball-ache to dismantle displays? A bit (I am not a physical labour sort of person, though I will try if asked), but the Sunday saw help from outside sources, and the whole process wound up going a lot smoother than it otherwise might have.

Oh, the venue remains absolutely stunning.

This impressive hot-tub caught my eye, though with prices starting at £20,000, I might not be investing in one any time soon.


Without going into extensive detail, there’s been a bit of a drive to improve sales at work. We have all agreed that we need to do more, and there are plans in place – entirely achievable plans, I might add – to push on. However, without going into too much detail, those plans have been disrupted to a degree, and now there is a real prospect of lone-working, especially as we all have holidays coming up.

The circumstances aren’t great, and lone-working won’t be fun, but to use an expression I use a lot, it is what it is. In the short term, there will be some pain, but we’ll have to pull together and get through it.

The Super Hero Cat Dream

A Muse is seldom complete without reference to my subconscious and its unusual machinations. The other night, I wound up dreaming I was a superhero, tagging along with a bunch of other heroes, and we were seeking to infiltrate the lair of an evil villain. Among the highlights, there was a trip through an icy cavern, sneaking around hallways near an auction, getting disguised as guards, and strolling through maintenance tunnels. Along the course of my mission, I wound up by a swimming pool, and I recalled being offended at the sight of a tap that had been left running. I was also surprised to find my cat, Castiel, sitting around this one particular room! I entered the pool area whilst carrying my cat, who wanted to get into the water!

We then had to evacuate, but at that point, I couldn’t find the cat! I can’t remember how it all ended.


I cannot remember the last time I saw one of my cousins. She lives in Australia with her husband, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the last time I saw her was all the way back in 2012. On Saturday I got to see her, and her hubby, at my uncle’s 70th birthday bash. It was quite bittersweet, for there is never enough time at these events to properly sink your teeth into a conversation, but us cousins got together for a memorable group photo, a nice little moment.

There’s many a memory of spending time at each other’s houses, having a laugh and mucking about. Now we’re all grown up, we all have families of our own, but on fleeting occasions, we get to have moments like these, where we’re together. I love them all.

19 Years

So, me and the missus have been together for 19 years! Wow, just wow. Sometimes I think if I’d murdered someone, I’d be out on good behaviour by now! Joking aside, it’s been a whirlwind, and I have loved it. The big one is next year, and I’ll need to put some thought into what to do, but even so, in a world where relationships seem to evaporate so readily, to reach 19 years is pretty bloody good!

A lot has changed since we first got together. Those early days were very lovey-dovey, and very, um, shall we say, physical. When people speak of falling in love, you could almost take that literally. It’s dizzying, it’s almost insane, how much we pour ourselves, heart and soul, into another person, and how much we accept the same of them. In those moments, we are completely vulnerable, and what’s more, we render ourselves that way. To fall in love is the ultimate gesture of trust and devotion in another human being.

Time breeds familiarity. This is where you learn each other’s habits, character traits, and nuances. You learn how to pick up upon each other’s moods, and what works best to cheer one another up. There will be bumps along the way, but with the passage of years, you’ll discover how you fit together. You’ll sort of develop an instinctive understanding of what the other is thinking, and you’ll find yourself being completely comfortable in one another’s presence. As I said, falling in love is insane, but being in love is to find peace, solace and ease with another. To quote the Doctor, love is a promise.

Love is also an excuse to treat one’s self to a very nice anniversary burger!

With that, it is time to bring this latest Muse to a close. I wish you all a very happy two weeks!

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