The Meerkat Muse: 26th June 2024

Are we enjoying this….
…. or experiencing this?

Welcome back to the Meerkat Muse!

Inching Closer

We are edging towards the 4th of July, and the General Election here in the UK. I am increasingly considering voting for the Greens, who have a fair manifesto built around unburdening the poor and needy, but the reality is that Labour will win. The question is ‘by how much?’

The Cost of a Bathroom

I had a call from a customer the other day, and it got me thinking about the cost of people’s time and labour, and the value we place upon it.

The gist is, the caller felt that the projected costs of installation a bathroom were very high, and he was of the belief that they were too high. Leaving aside that my costs were rough estimates, the point I made to him is that he would be paying for someone’s expertise and time. Whilst this caller had a slightly dismissive attitude to this element, I hopefully had him appreciate it a little more by the end of our call, and the whole conversation got me thinking. We all want the time and effort of others, but we are not always willing to appreciate the time and effort of others.

When we hire a handyman, or a fitter, or decorator, or anyone to do a job for us that we can’t or won’t undertake ourselves, we obviously don’t want to be ripped off, but by the same token we must understand that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. I could muddle through some stuff and do a bad job, or pay to have a professional do it right. I can handle stuff like painting and putting up wallpaper, but I absolutely cannot handle plumbing or electrical work!

The Scotland Fail

The 2024 European Championships got underway in Germany on the 14th of June, with hosts Germany facing Scotland. I had backed the Scots to do something remarkable, and finally escape from the group stages at an international tournament. The opening match gave me cause to question my optimistic appraisal. A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the hosts left Scotland with an early mountain to climb, and such a result had the potential to greatly shake confidence. Now, to be fair, defeat was always on the cards, but had it been 2-1 or 1-0, Scotland would have come out of the game feeling a little more confident, and able to take pride in their performance. A 5-1 defeat, with a performance that saw the Scots horribly exposed, will have done them no favours.

Torturous Train Trips

Whilst it is pretty clear that I love trains, sometimes they can do my head in. Over the Father’s Day weekend my family and I travelled to Hertfordshire from Essex, which is normally straight-forward, except London Underground, as they so often do, introduced weekend rail works. These happened to affect the route my family and I needed, and thus, the route became horribly convoluted. I get that engineering works need to happen, but it often seems these are arranged for weekends when people are likely to be travelling more often (like Father’s Day), and it left me with a challenge.

You see, the option of the Elizabeth Line existed, but whereas tickets for travel through London usually factor in Underground fares and lines, the Elizabeth Line sits in this weird place where it’s not quite an Underground line, and not quite a mainline. This in turn impacts ticketing. I don’t know why they’ve over-complicated this, but that’s TFL for you. In the end, we made use of the Elizabeth Line without incident, and then the incidents started in earnest…

Stressful Situations

We got on the train to Stevenage, and my daughter was sick. She had felt ill a little earlier, but this… this proved to be epic. She was sick as soon as we got to our hotel. She was sick several more times during the evening, and sick in the morning too. All of this meant that she was unable to join us for my Dad’s birthday do, and my wife had to sit it out too. I had some hopes for the weekend that were rather completely dashed, and to be honest, felt a bit miffed. I wasn’t annoyed with my daughter (these things happen, they are unfortunate and frustrating, but they happen), but just in general terms, this was meant to be a nice family occasion, and yet we wound up having to up and leave quite quickly once I got back from my Dad’s birthday meal, and it felt like I’d barely seen anyone.

The weather was, for the most part, pleasant over the weekend, making it more of a shame that events conspired to dampen my spirits.

England get Underway

Might the England football team offer a respite from what proved to be a challenging weekend? Well, sort of. In their opening game against Serbia, England took an early lead, and in the first half looked very much in control, but in the second half they were too cautious, and allowed Serbia to grow into the game. There were several nervy moments, some sloppy passes, and a general failure to assert control, and in the end, England got away with it, thanks to some vital saves from Jordan Pickford in goal. We may not be so fortunate against better sides, and given our creative talent, need to find a way to make better use of them.

Mysteries

This is a headscratcher!

Without being able to dive into too much detail, a family member has recently been under regular assault, for reasons no one can work out, from someone who he got along with. This subtle, insidious assault could even be considered an attempt on his life! It is a total mystery, yet it seems the perpetrator of this has done it before. My family member currently has no wish to press charges, yet I for one believe they are entirely within their rights to. Of course, they are entirely within their rights not to, if that is their wish. For the record, they are alright.

The Chaotic Doctor Who Dream

I have no idea what was going on here. The titular Doctor from Doctor Who was on an adventure that seemed to involve… a theatre? A damp garden? Crossing his own timeline, more than once? It was a mess! There was also another dream involving an office block, a weird guy with glasses (me, maybe?!), at least one cat, and some sort of radiation? I haven’t really remembered my dreams all that much of late (I did have the classic ‘desperate to pee’ dream recently), which may or may not be a good thing. Perhaps this is down to feeling quite tired recently. Hay-fever meds render me fatigued, but if I don’t take them I wind up bunged up, and therefore tired from that. Is this impacting my capacity to recall my nocturnal adventures? Am I sleeping too well?

Mind you, I had a Star Trek dream the other night, specifically about saying farewell to Star Trek: Discovery. There was some sort of adventure going on, involving a big wormhole at one point, and the character of Michael Burnham was central to proceedings, though I can’t remember the specifics. However, I do remember a strange end to the dream, which featured as an epilogue involving Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons!

There was a dream about trying to get seated at a cinema, and a dream about working from home, yet doing my current job. I can tell you, designing and selling bathrooms from home would not be easy!

England Disappoint

After a laboured and unconvincing win over Serbia, England faced Denmark in their second Euro 24 group game. A win would ensure England not only reached the knockout stages, but that they’d do so as group winners. Early positivity saw a goal from skipper Harry Kane, but as they did against Serbia, England withdrew, and became hesitant and timid. Denmark would go on to equalise later on in the first half, and a drab second half saw the Danes probably look the more likely team to go on and win it. England were pedestrian and lethargic, and on the basis of their performance, would be easily undone by better sides. The game finished 1-1, which meant England remained in control of the group, but everything about the performances needs dramatic improvements.

A Surge in Spam

For reasons that escape me, I’ve a lot of spam calls lately, and they all seem to relate to housing repairs. I don’t know why this is happening, but it’s become a recurring pattern of my day: call comes in from random number, no message left, and if I answer it, usually no response then either. I believe them to be about housing repairs, on the basis of searches on the phone numbers, as well as the handful of conversations I have had with these callers. It’s getting a bit boring, but unfortunately spammers can be very persistent.

Sunny Spells & Brighter Times

It seems like we’re starting to see more of that weird glowing orb in the sky. The temperature is rising, the sun is shining, and we might actually be getting something resembling a summer. The cheeky meerkat in me wonders if better weather and the promise of electoral change on the 4th of July is somehow related.

There is still room for the polls to be wrong. Labour are reportedly not talking about them. They are not entertaining the notion of victory, no matter how much everyone else is talking about it. Meanwhile, the Tories are plodding along, desperately trying to salvage something from the train-wreck of the past 14 years, and are coming under assault from not only Labour, but from ambitious Liberal Democrats, and Reform.

Reform is the party of Nigel Farage, who frames every problem as relating to immigration, even though there are in fact other reasons for the UK’s decline over the past 14 years. A number of Reform candidates have been exposed for sexist and racist remarks, which will hopefully lead any would-be Reform voters to realise what they’d be getting. Sadly, some may vote Reform precisely because they hold so many bigots in their ranks. In any event, it looks like Reform will split the right-wing vote, and thus ensure the Tories suffer an even bigger defeat than once predicted. Various polls (and this is crucial here, because it’s not a one-off) suggest Labour have a 20-point lead over the Tories, which translates to a majority of over 200 seats. This eclipses even Boris Johnson’s 80-seat majority in 2019, and will serve as a hammer-blow to the Tories.

One can hope. If ever a political party deserved near-total destruction, it’s the Conservatives. They have ruined the UK over the past 14 years, and they should reap the whirlwind for what they have done.

I for one will take the signs from the sunnier skies that they are about to face the consequences of their repeated failures.

The Mysterious Sleeping Man

On Monday, a guy decided that the perfect place to have a kip was right outside our showroom, on the small patch of grass that lines the front. Now, I think this is technically public land, so what he wasn’t in the wrong to pick that spot for a nap, but it was a little unusual. I kept an eye on him, because sometimes the instinct is to be a bit concerned, but he was moving about and ensuring he remained comfortable, so he seemed alright. The gentleman remained there for a good couple of hours, until the staff from next-door decided to make sure he was ok (along with some passers-by). At this point, there was the possibility of distress, so I brought the guy a glass of water (Monday was a warm one), and whilst one of the colleagues from next-door was preparing to call for a paramedic, the guy promptly got up, and walked off… and then walked back in the other direction… and then doubled back again. I lost sight of them after that.

The theory from next-door is that he might have actually been on drugs, and he may have had some on his person, so he wished to avoid the authorities. I hope he’s alright.

The Scotland Fail, P2

Whilst I have lamented England’s shortcomings at Euro 2024, at least we remain in the contest. On Sunday, Scotland exited at the group stage, defying my prediction that they’d escape the groups for the first time ever. A 1-0 defeat to Hungary in the final minute of injury time (which lasted for ages, following a sickening head injury to Hungarian forward Barnabas Vargas, he is however okay, minus a broken cheekbone) meant the Scots – who came quite close to a crucial victory – would finish bottom of Group A, and thus be heading home early.

I wanted the Scots to do well, despite being English. I have a fair bit of Scottish heritage, but also, I like to root for the underdog, and the Scots have often fallen into that category. Alas, yet again, it is not to be. The big question now would be: would England suffer a similar fate?

Where the Cards Fall

By the time of the next Muse, the General Election will have been and gone. Will predictions of a comfortable Labour majority prove true? Will Reform upset the applecart? Who will be reflecting upon missed opportunities? Will the country have the chance to heal? At the time of writing this, I know what I want to see happen, and I know what I think will happen, but all I can do is wait and see! With that thought, I bid you all adieu!

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