Unwanted Valentine’s gifts and fridge shelves
February 14, 2012, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Comment and column style | Tags: , , , ,

So I’m back from my Sri Lanka trip and failed to blog while away as internet was sparse there.  I will write about my travels in due course, alongside applying for jobs, getting used to new Twitter and adjusting to the cold.  (Note to self – take a coat to the airport next time as two jumpers and plimsolls do not keep you warm when you return to cold England.)

In the mean time, I wish to share something topical that caught my eye on a Freecycle digest e-mail today.

For those of you who don’t know, Freecycle is a site that people use to ‘recycle’ their unwanted items, and appeal for anything they might need, for free.  It’s regional and I ‘subscribe’ to Brighton and Canterbury groups.

I hardly use it in practise, but I read through the e-mail digests each day in the hope someone is giving away a winning lottery ticket, or maybe even offering the lead to a story idea.

Today I saw this:

WANTED: any romantic pressies/unwanted valentines gifts (Telscombe Cliffs/Peacehaven)
Hi,am looking for anything romantic as its vvalentines day and. I dont
get paid to get my partner anything til weekend

Wow.  I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, how many people is this dude trying to upset?  His lucky lady is set to receive something he didn’t even choose and something ‘unwanted’.  Is he trying to cause problems in other relationships by encouraging others to mark their gifts as ‘unwanted’ and toss them away to a stranger?

Also, how many gifts does he want?  I think I might be on to this guy, does he just want the gifts for himself? Maybe he’s going to set up a stall or an e-bay shop.

AND why can’t he just wait for the weekend and get his woman something then?  Surely she’s the type who will understand the circumstances if she’s the sort of bird who will settle for a second-hand valentine’s gift.

A bit of advice for this guy (who I have refrained from naming):

1) Try a skip, or a bin behind a charity shop if you’re after ‘unwanted’

2) Try a charity shop

3) Tomorrow all the supermarkets and department stores will cut their Valentine’s gifts to half price.  By the weekend when you get paid you’ll probably get something for 10p in a bargain box somewhere, if you rummage hard enough.  You can buy 10 gifts to make up for lateness.

4) Today if you go to a 24-hour supermarket, there will probably be some reduced flowers or even a reduced birthday cake, if you’re lucky.  Better still, you could always cut some stems from your garden, or your neighbour’s.

5) Google is there to be utilised.  Be creative.  There are thousands of sites dedicated to ‘Make your own’ gifts.  It’s far more thoughtful (and FREE).

6) You don’t even need Google.  Use your imagination – make a card, a cake, a mixtape.  Maybe you could check out if you have any leftover ‘unwanted’ Christmas gifts.

7) Plan in advance, stock up on ‘romantic gifts’ at the weekend and save them for next year.  You’ll probably have a different girlfriend anyway, if any.

8) Screw Valentine’s.  If you don’t have any money, then don’t bother – it’s all commercial anyway.

Maybe, I will e-mail him my advice and blog.  It would be interesting to see if he got any responses.

Further down the e-mail I was also amused to see this ad:

WANTED: 2-3 fridge shelves (Lewes RD)
Hi, by accident I broke the shelves of the fridge and I need some to
replace then, so if someone has an old fridge and you are
planningplanning to through it away, please let me know and I will be
happy to collect the shelves. The dimensions are 18″ by 12″.Thank you!!

It’s a bit of a teaser isn’t it? Before I even consider helping this guy, I would want to know the exact circumstances of this situation.  What did he do to this fridge?

I might get in touch as well and see if he got the precise dimensions he required.

Right that’s it from me, for today.

Happy Valentine’s Day one and all.

The story of how a standard class journey cost more than first class
January 21, 2012, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Comment and column style

I wrote about my first experience of first class on my way to Devon, and now I am on the train on the way back, in standard class.

And do you know what?  It’s really not that much different.  OK, so I haven’t got an endless supply of tea and coffee, nor is my chair made of leather, but nevertheless I feel OK.  I don’t have a middle aged man peering over my shoulder so I don’t need to worry about skipping the sex scenes in any film I’m watching, and I don’t have a reserved seat so I don’t feel too self conscious of the massive headphones I happen to be sporting.  I’m alone so there’s no one there for me to worry about the ‘bye’ thing.

The frustrating thing is: I’ve actually spent more on this journey than the other, and here’s the story how.

Firstly, when I ‘cunningly’ planned this journey in advance to get the best deal, I was unsure whether I would go to Canterbury for a friend’s birthday or to Brighton for an exam on Monday.  So I bought a ticket to both as they were pretty reasonable.  However, I realised a few days ago that that meant I had booked two tickets on the same train to London so therefore paid twice – how silly.

The terms and conditions are that you get on that specified train so it was important to catch it at the right time.  I’d already learnt to be on time from the first journey, when I counted myself lucky that the train was delayed.

It was important to leave early but following a night drinking too much wine, my bowels decided to delay me so we were late into the car.  (Friends will know the wonder that is my digestive system.)  I also got the time wrong by ten minutes so we were running late.  Then, in true Devon style we were stuck behind a few tractors on some winding country roads.

I missed the train by about four minutes.  And of course my tickets are non-refundable so I had to buy a new one.

Oh, did I mention that the next train was an hour later?

At least that meant that there was no way I could possibly miss it.

I’ve been cheering myself up by listening to the sunscreen song – when I was about 14 I blu-tacked the full lyrics onto my teen bedroom wall.  It is actually full of really good advice.  Unfortunately nothing on trains but still.

My first class in first class
January 15, 2012, 5:49 pm
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I’m on a train to Devon for five days work experience on the Western Morning News.  I thought I would post a blog as I am feeling very proud to be sitting in first class (cheap deal ont internet is making me fantasize about being very rich).

You get free tea and biscuits and a power plug so I have been sitting at my train desk in my padded leather chair pretending to be important and trying not to spill my free tea.

Unfortunately I don’t really look the part as I have bed hair, mismatch clothes and hangover face.  I also made quite an entrance as I didn’t leave in time to make it for the train but by some miracle it was delayed by 15 minutes. (I have made an oath never to be angry at a delayed train again – but I am sure that’s a fickle plea).  Thankfully my wondrous boyfriend accompanied me across London so we could attempt a sprint with a suitcase (or he could).  When I got on the train I was puffed and flustered and experienced a delayed shock panic attack and then nearly cried.  I was about to text my Mum to say maybe there is  a God but I didn’t want to get her over-excited so restrained myself.  I now forgive my sister for getting me some pants that said ‘Drama Queen’ when I was about 14 and I got in a strop. – It appears I can be violently dramatic on extreme situation + hangover.

Anyway, I am calmer now.  I realised first class accommodation makes me very naive in terms of stereotypes.  I have been sitting next to a very well-to-do 60 something couple who used hand-san without the occasion of food (maybe they didn’t like the look of me).  I assumed they must be very rich and probably a Lord and Lady and was tempted to say ‘Oh War Horse – it’s spectacular’ in a posh voice on seeing their theatre programme and maybe comment on the stunning sunset.  Instead, we just exchanged some polite smiles and watched each other’s newspapers and bags while we went to get our free refreshments.  They probably weren’t a Lord and Lady because they were naughty people who didn’t have first class tickets at all.  They got in trouble but they said they couldn’t walk down the train with suitcases as they were pensioners.  They had to pay a top-up cost – probably the amount I paid for my ticket on top of theirs.

When they got off the train, we did that thing where you say ‘Bye’ even though you haven’t even spoken.  That happened to my friends and me the other day actually in a pub.  We sat in the garden for about an hour and all a man said was ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’ and we said ‘No’ and then he did the bye thing when he left about an hour later.  But then again, I suppose it is quite nice and friendly but I want to know what the rules are for the bye thing…how many words have to be exchanged or how much time spent together?  When exactly does too much time elapse to for it to become awkward to start a public transport conversation?

So yeah, another thing that the first class accommodation made me do is just leave my bag and laptop unattended (admittedly at the hands of the well-to-do couple – but then they were sitting in first class without a ticket!)  I would never do this in the normal train area with the snotty kids and the starey drunk man so why should I assume posh people will look after my valuables?  It was fine, thankfully, but how silly.  After all, on my trip to the ‘buffet’ I chuckled with a fellow passenger (male/20 something) about how exciting it was to get a free drink etc and he had also got a cheap internet ticket.  Maybe everyone had.  Maybe Mr and Mrs hand-san should have known about the deal.  Maybe no one is actually posh or rich and is pretending to be like me.

Another benefit that first class boasts, apparently, is ‘better air.’  That’s what I just eavesdropped from a large woman wearing a hair bow, long velvet dress and A LOT of makeup.  She’s come into this carriage and told her friend that the air is better in here.  ‘Fresher and cleaner.’

It’s great how much eavesdropping and people-watching can keep you entertained on journeys and public transport.  I’m glad I didn’t book the silent carriage.