The Meerkat Muse – 6th March 2024

February is behind us, and thus begins March. However, before we discuss the start of March, we must indeed look back, and say farewell to February. #

Inclement Incidents

Rain was the early order of the end of February

To describe the 22nd of February as wet would be a disservice to the word wet. It was horrendous. I got to work in the dry, and shortly thereafter, the heavens opened, in what felt like an effort to repeat the Flood. Was it possible to soak an entire nation? It seemed like it. The 23rd was better, but not without a burst of rain that was truly impressive.

Taking the Bait

Maybe TikTok is not the best medium to pursue this topic, but someone on there keeps referencing the importance of having guns as a means of deterrence. As a Brit, guns are pretty alien to me, but the comparison of knife crime in the UK, with the suggestion that cities like London are dangerous, often strikes me as a result of misinformed thinking. Mentioning this to the TikToker (is that what they’re called?) in question may not yield any positive response, but I feel the need to address their statements.

To revisit the statistics, and to do so in the fairest way possible, I’ll try to compare data from the same year. Since 2023 data is proving stubbornly unavailable, I’ll look to 2022.

In 2022, the US homicide rate per 100,000 people (assume all rates are based on 100,000 people) was 6.4. The UK’s homicide rate was 1. That’s a pretty significant difference. There are multiple factors behind that, but out of 19,196 murders, 14,789 of them involved some form of firearm. To put it another way, 77% of all US murders involved a gun. Approximately 8.5% involved knives.

The UK certainly does have a knife problem. 41% of UK murders involve blades. They are notoriously easy to get hold of, and easy to conceal. To deny this is a problem is to deny reality. However, the UK murder rate with knives is considerably lower than the US murder rate with guns.

I have no easy answers to the gun crime problem the USA faces, and solutions that have worked elsewhere in the world are not guaranteed to succeed over there. Guns are culturally entrenched in the USA, and attempting to remove them would provoke a highly hostile response. The trick lies in education, though far smarter people than I have not yet come up with an answer to the problem. Nonetheless, I have to reject this TikToker’s notion that guns make things safer. The statistics speak for themselves. I will take my chances in the relatively gun-free environment I live in.

Michael is in for some Madness!

What has poor Michael got himself into?!

Fontana & Istilor, my second book, is out now! Will Michael unravel the strange mystery of his grandfather’s hidden past? Will he ever get home? How will he cope with fur?!

The Coughing Saga

Recall in the previous Muse that my daughter was repeatedly sick overnight a few weeks ago? Well, the other night, she coughed pretty much the entire night, and could not stop. Cue another night where my wife and I struggled to get any sleep.

I know my daughter can’t help having a cough, and I know it’s even worse for her than for me, but it’s the sort of grating noise that you end up being poised for, the sort of sound that embeds itself in your skin and makes you twitch, each and every time you hear it. I think it’s an after-effect of her trip to A&E, since there were so many people there who were coughing and spluttering. It’s one of those Catch-22 scenarios: go to the doctors/hospital to get better, but get exposed to sick people whilst there.

The Bazooka

The other day, former PM Liz Truss (who was famously out-lasted by a lettuce) gave a talk about the importance of fighting against what she sees as the evil of left-wing policies. Her rant at CPAC highlighted her transphobia, and spoke of deep-state conspiracies, but it seems her main aim was to drum up attention for her upcoming book, which in turn is part of a desperate bid to remain relevant. She spoke of needing a ‘bigger bazooka’ to get across the points of her right-wing ideology, but let’s face it, this entire farce was about selling books.

Lunchtime Frustrations

I had to lone-trade at work the other week, and whilst this is not a huge issue to me, what was a nuisance was repeated interruptions as I attempted to grab my sandwich. There is this remarkable tendency of people to wander into the showroom, just as I go to eat. It doesn’t matter when I go to eat, I often end up getting diverted from my dinner! This greatly annoys me, for a hungry meerkat is a grumpy meerkat!

Tolerance is a Two-Way Street

I shared a wonderful post from Jill Dennison about religious tolerance, and the rise of Christian Nationalism, over at the Coalition of the Brave. There is a definite drive to ram Christianity (well, a particular interpretation of Christianity) down the throats of every last man woman and child in the USA, despite the long-established separation of Church and State. That wall exists for a reason, yet Christian Nationalists (who some deny even exist, even when shown evidence) are doing their best to erode it. I dread to imagine what becomes of the LGBT community, women, and followers of other faiths, should hard-line Evangelicals get what they want.

Consternation with Customers

I fell foul of something the other week. I was not specific enough with a customer over a discount for a display unit, and even though common sense might dictate that they were unreasonable, because I had not spelled out the obvious to them, they kicked off, shouting down the phone at my manager. She does not suffer such customers lightly, so referred the matter to customer services. The gist is that the customer was offered a display unit to get her out of a bind regarding a failed delivery, and she could have that at 70% off the retail price, but she thought she would get 70% off the sale price, which was not discussed and never on the cards.

Yes, communication on our end could have been better, but nowhere will offer such a staggering discount from a sale item, and her chief issue – namely the missing unit – was resolved. Her annoyance with the delays with delivery is understandable, but her aggressive stance towards my manager was never going to yield anything good. Customers who rant and rave and scream… you won’t get what you want. You certainly don’t deserve to get what you want. As far as I’m concerned, any time that kind of behaviour gets rewarded is a slap in the face for hard-working retail staff, and for decent customers. Tantrums should never succeed.

The Dangerous Dream, and the Work Dream

Needing to pee in a dream can go badly wrong!

My dreams sent me waaaaaaay back to my past the other night. I was working in office supply retail once again, only I needed the loo, and there was a queue. This was awkward, but I thankfully managed to cope. There is that risk that if you pee in a dream, you pee for real. So far I’ve been lucky with this, for I’ve had the pee dream before and not actually gone. Still, it’s always a bit disconcerting to need to go in a dream, because you never know what may happen! There is a trend for men to have certain, um, ‘special’ dreams where what our brains imagine produces very real results, so peeing in one’s dreams can definitely happen!

This dream was immediately followed by a dream which combined my current job with my sofa sales job. The only standout element of this dream was that my boss was Rishi Sunak, who had somehow gone from Prime Minister to the manager of this retail establishment. It would too good a fall for him if you ask me, and I for one would loathe working for him. What made my subconscious conjure up him as my boss is beyond me.

Another dream whisked my family and I to the Middle East! We were either in Dubai, or Abu Dhabi, somewhere like that, and we were surrounded by opulence the likes of which I will probably never see with my own eyes. The standout moment here was an appearance by a Jack Sparrow impersonator at some sort of kids play area, loosely based off the roguish pirate.

An Unexpected Piece of Laptop Luck

A chance conversation with the IT specialist at work has led to the chance that our secondary laptop could get repaired, and for a much lower price than I’d believed. Having two fully functional laptops means my wife can do her surveys and stuff, whilst I can write or play games. It will grant some flexibility to our routine. This is always quite useful!

A Small Setback

Owing to rota issues at work, I am unable to attend my daughter’s parents evening at her school, which is disappointing but unavoidable. She has made a lot of progress this year, especially in subjects like PE (which she detests), so I am very proud of her, and it would have been nice to hear of that progress first-hand. Instead, I will lone-trading once again at work, hence why I can’t attend. I would need to leave early to make it, and now I won’t be leaving at all.


It has been enormously tempting to rebuke a long-standing ignorant troll, yet I will not lower myself to their level any longer. Someone said to me that arguing with trolls is like wrestling with pigs in mud: you end up getting dirty, and the pig enjoys it. When facts, reason, logic and compassion all fail to penetrate a someone’s wall of ignorance, you know it’s futile to have a discussion with them.

Learning to walk away, to let go, so to speak, has been a tough lesson for me. I am often quite eager to respond to challenges, when sometimes it simply is not worth my time. I end up falling down a rabbit hole of accusation and counter-accusation, and does that actually do me any favours?

School Success!

Though I was unable to attend my daughter’s school meeting, it was a resounding success, and I am very proud of her! Last year was quite rough for her, so the turnaround here has been fantastic. Her teachers describe her as enthusiastic and as having an enquiring mind, qualities I hope she never loses. She even got praise from her PE teacher, which given how much PE was a source of angst last year, is an incredible and brilliant change.

F1 is Back!

My beloved Formula 1 returned at the weekend, with the unusual scenario of a Saturday race in Bahrain. The Saturday race was because of Ramadan, a situation that will repeat in Saudi Arabia the following weekend. What is also likely to repeat is a comfortable Max Verstappen victory, barring anything spectacularly improbable. For this ‘kat, the hope that Max might be seriously challenged in 2024 is already fading fast; he dominated the opening grand prix, and it will take a miracle to stop him and Red Bull. Still, I cling to the forlorn possibility that another team will close the gap during the course of the season.

The WTF Dream

I have no idea where to start with this one. It seemed to be some kind of spy/police thriller, seemingly in some kind of Mediterranean paradise. My clearest recollections are: some kind of standoff between armed gunmen, scraping yoghurt from a container, my daughter being sick, and taking a phone call from a friend whose voice I didn’t recognise. Oh, at the end of the dream there was a half-naked lady!

As with most dreams, the precise details are fleeting, but this was definitely up there in the weirdness stakes!

A Rare Sunday Off

For the record, my daughter is a bit older than this pic demonstrates!

Having been granted a Sunday off, my wife, daughter and I ventured to town so my daughter could paint something at a local craft shed… only to discover it was closed. Ah well! We poked our noses in a charity shop, grabbed some bits and pieces out of ASDA, and got some lunch in town whilst we were there. It was a rare day out as a trio, even if we didn’t do a lot. If nothing else, some fresh air always does some good. The day off also afforded me the chance to watch a pivotal football match, namely the Manchester Derby. I call it pivotal because my beloved Liverpool’s closest title challengers are Manchester City, and they hosted Manchester United.

My natural instinct is to want Man Utd to lose, seeing as they are Liverpool’s historically most bitter rivals. However, it is Manchester City who’ve been the biggest barriers to Liverpool’s success over several years, and any scenario where they drop points is most welcome. Utd’s season has been pretty woeful, so the odds of them taking points off City seemed highly unlikely, yet at half-time Utd led 1-0, at City’s ground no less. With Liverpool having won with a last-gasp effort on Saturday, right when a draw seemed inevitable, might this be the moment I dare believe the Reds might win the title? Ultimately I dare not believe, lest I jinx it. One game at a time people, one game at a time.

Ultimately, Utd faltered, and City ran out 3-1 winners. Next up Liverpool host Manchester City. It will up to the Reds to do this themselves.

Monday Madness

I came into work on Monday with a few tasks in mind, and then everything got away from me. Grrr!

The problems arose from orders and customers that aren’t even mine, but ah well, that happens. It’s frustrating (not least of all when this situation occupies nearly all my time), since I had projects for my customers that I wanted to sink my teeth into. Ah well, stuff happens, as they say. I could have done without it, but whinging never helped anyone solve anything. I do find myself preferring mundane days to frantic ones!

I’m Ready for my Close-up

My daughter took this very close-up pic of our cat! Castiel has never looked more, um, vivid. I look into his eyes, and I wonder what he’s thinking? Then I remember, he’s a cat, so ‘FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD’.

Do I have anything else to add? Not for this Muse. The next Muse may well feature a mini review of Dune, which my wife and I ought to be seeing on Wednesday. Beyond that, there’s no telling what tomfoolery will feature, but until then, I bid you all adieu 🙂

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