The Meerkat Muse – 17/11/21

Let’s kick this Muse off with a little dash of outrage.


I don’t know, maybe I’m being overly harsh here, but when you have two small children (one of which is a baby, and the other is only just walking), do you think it’s wise to leave them in a buggy whilst you go upstairs to explore the showroom? To make matters worse, we couldn’t see the kids from our vantage point – not that we are babysitters, but the fatherly instincts in me was not impressed. Were the parents upstairs for only a few minutes? Yes. Is that enough time for anything to happen to those kids? Yes.

I can already hear the peanut gallery telling me to mind my own business. Well, this is the dilemma. I certainly can mind my own business. I am not the guardian or keeper of anyone else. When I’m at work I am not responsible for anyone else’s kids, and the showroom is not a nursery – nor am I responsible for anyone else’s kids when I’m out and about. However, if I (and I’d like to think anyone) saw a child looking lost and alone, I would be duty-bound to assist that child. If there is even the possibility of a child being in danger, do we not have a social contract to make sure that child is safe? That might be treading on toes, but I would never be able to forgive myself if something terrible happened and I did nothing to stop it, under the guise of ‘minding my own business’.


The other day I went down the pub with a couple of old friends from my office supply retailer days. What started as a couple of pints ended up being four(!), which for a lightweight like me is quite a bit! We had a laugh, we had a chat, we caught up, as friends do. It’s scary to think that I’ve known both of them for nearly fourteen years now. We worked together for over seven years. Over the period that we worked under the same roof… well, we felt like a family. After all, we’d see each other on a daily basis, and we laughed, cried, shed blood and shed sweat together. The term ‘siege mentality’ might apply, whenever we had to grapple with a head office that was far removed from the reality of working in such an environment. There is a sense of belonging that has stuck with me, long after I left for new pastures. It’s a difficult and challenging thing to build, but we managed it.

I’m fortunate to have found that feeling more than once. From the time spent working at my local Magistrates Court, to the original bathroom showroom I worked at, to now, I’ve encountered colleagues who’ve become firm friends. Friendship can see you through the roughest times.


I like fireworks. They’re beautiful. They’re vibrant. They’re spectacular. To my cat, they are terrifying. Whilst I will always be happy to enjoy fireworks, I can’t help but become increasingly of the opinion that they should be the remit of dedicated, organised events. This year my cat has been more scared than usual, and that’s got to have something to do with the increase in frequency and violence of the displays. Fireworks have come a long way since I was a kid, and when I was a kid Fireworks Night was the 5th and only the 5th of November. Now it seems to be a week-long occurrence, with no regard for pets or people.


Some news was unveiled at work the other day, that could have implications for me. I say could, because what happens depends on a domino effect that’s far from guaranteed. The end result of it all could mean a promotion, or at the very least, a crack at a promotion (assuming I want such a thing, or that the dominos fall in the way I’d need them to). The flip side of this is that a man I regard as a good friend wouldn’t be my boss anymore, and that would carry unknown consequences. My current assistant manager could become store manager, and I can work with that. On the other hand, someone might come in from a completely different store with radically different ideas – not automatically a bad thing, but not guaranteed to be good either. There’s a lot of uncertainty, so watch this space.

MP Pay

£81,000 a year means, after tax, £4,639 a month. The average UK mortgage payment is £669 a month. So, after the mortgage payment, that’s £3,970, but let’s assume an MP’s mortgage is a bit higher and say a grand, so after that, they have £3,639. The average family of four will spend, on average, £700 a month on food. Again, let’s say a grand for an MP. £2,639. Take off £307 a month for Council Tax (assuming highest band). That leaves £2,332. The average UK energy bill for a large home is £137 – £2,195. Let’s assume they spend another £300 combined on TV, Internet and mobile phone packages – that leaves MPs with £1,895 a month as disposable income. OK, some might send their kids to expensive private schools, but that’s a choice, so I don’t count that. Bottom line, what they have, after their monthly bills, is more money available to splash than a lot of people earn in a month, but they feel underpaid? Some of them feel they need to play underhanded games that contradict their roles, in order to make more money? This isn’t a Tory problem, or a Labour, or a Lib Dem problem. This is an MPs are out of touch with reality problem. Meanwhile, they voted to cut Universal Credit and raise National Insurance payments, which hits the poor hard. I swear politicians exist to serve only themselves. By the way, the average UK salary? £31,000.

The Awakening

It’s taken a little while, but the first round of edits to The Awakening is now complete, and I’ve turned it over to my publisher. It’s amazing to reflect upon a journey that began as a kind of fan fiction project back in 2019 and has led to this. I fully expect more editing and work, but I’m moving closer and closer to the point where The Awakening will be out there once more, only this time in its best possible form. That’s pretty exciting! I’m already running through scenarios for the sequel and I’m going to need to look into how to get the book into UK bookstores (my publisher is an American company and I have no idea what that means for UK bookstores).


It seems like dreams come up in nearly every Muse. As long as my dreams continue to be strange, unrelenting places, they’ll continue to get mentioned, so here goes with the latest nocturnal adventure – a plane trip to Mars.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Planes can’t fly to Mars!’ You’d be right, except this is a dream, so anything goes, and sure enough, after many hours (not days, weeks or months) on a typical commercial flight, complete with annoying passengers, we caught sight of the red hills and valleys of the fourth planet from the Sun as we came in to land. Suits and helmets weren’t required (though some people wore them anyway) for we landed in a patch of Mars that had been terraformed, and the gravity was the same as earth’s, via a mechanic that the dream didn’t explain and I didn’t question it. We milled around for a bit, prepared to say goodbye to some people who were staying, and got ready for the return flight. I woke up before we left.

If only it were that simple eh? If we could make going to Mars that easy, we’d give the human race a refuge from all the problem’s we’re causing on earth. Who knows – perhaps one day.

There was also a dream where I was on the London Underground – specifically the Central Line (yes, in my dream I knew that), but whilst waiting for the train, other passengers and myself had to jog as the platform itself was moving like an escalator or travellator. This was enormously disconcerting, though I imagine it would be a good way to keep fit. I’m not sure how I’d board the train though.

Moving on

For years I’ve run not only Meerkat Musings but also The Coalition of the Brave. If Meerkat Musings is a personal site, the Coalition site is the political site, only it’s not really a coalition, it’s just me. Also, I can’t help but feel that I’ve failed in the mission statement – ‘a voice against the darkness’. Oh, I’ve certainly confronted my fair share of misogynistic pigs, racist idiots and homophobic bigots, but I feel like I’ve been too quick to anger, especially lately, and the manner of how I confront these miscreants… I fear it makes me little better than they are.

It’s time to step back from that environment. I don’t want to abandon the idea, but what started out as a group project needs to be a group project again, and it needs new blood. Hence a call to arms. If you’re interested in picking up the reins, drop a comment or email me –

Seeing the Folks

On Monday my parents came down to see me, which is always nice, if somewhat difficult as we’re not five minutes down the road. That said, in a couple of weeks we’re heading up to theirs for a panto! We went to a local restaurant for lunch, and for the first time in absolutely ages I had a steak. They left behind some presents (there’s a birthday coming up soonish) and we talked about Christmas plans. So much of what I can do over the festive season comes down to work – retail is, for all its frustrations, my calling, but retail also forces my hand when it comes to time off. The post-Christmas sale is traditionally a very busy time for retailers, and all hands are required, so any family gatherings need to be before Christmas, or in the New Year. The trouble is, everyone else has the same issue, so we’re stumbling around each other to book the time.

Let’s end with a Smile

This put a smile on my face. Stolen from Facebook:

Take care everyone, come back in two weeks for the next Muse!

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