Can we talk?

I don’t want to bore you or rant for the sake of it, but… can somebody please explain to me why, in an open plan office with no partitions to speak off, there is any need for someone to conduct an entire conversation via email with their neighbour across the way?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They aren’t discussing a confidential matter requiring discretion or idly gossiping about someone in the department. No this is mundane stuff, like when their next campaign is kicking off or when copy is expected back from the studio.

In other words, its typical ‘everyday’ office work flow which can be dealt with in seconds if only the ‘dumb’ person on the other side of the desk remembers how to talk, asks questions and gets answers; thereby creating knowledge we might all benefit from knowing.

But instead, in our ‘fast moving’ high tech offices, real work becomes lost in a maze of unanswered emails and numbed emotions as we tap away, trying to guess what the sender wants by the tone of their inquiry and wondering just what the heck that ‘emoticon at the end really means (recognition charts at the ready everyone).

So does technology in fact actually end up slowing us down? I think it might you know.  I mean how many times recently have you have found yourself labouring over an email, when a quick phone call would surely have sufficed? Or cursed the fact that no-one has got back to you, possibly because they are no longer with the company, or just gone on holiday and forgot to put their ‘out of office’ on.

My guess is too many times. So remember that the next time you fail to talk to your neighbour you are probably driving another nail into the coffin of decent conversation.

I look around my office this afternoon and seeing heads down everywhere I do begin to wonder –  What are they really doing? Working?  Emailing, on facebook perhaps, instant messenging?

Or maybe they are just plain scared to look up and catch my eye, in case I want to talk to them…

Face to face.


English: Waterstones

English: Waterstones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I probably spend too much time worrying about stuff. But honestly it’s the little things that can make such a difference. Take the other day, there I was in my local branch of Waterstones soaking up the atmosphere at one of my favourite bookshops when an all too familiar event occurred.

Now granted it wasn’t earth shattering but it did leave me feeling disappointed and that’s what is worrying, because I am a big fan of the high street, I like my routine at the weekend, browsing the shops, coffee and cake, you know that sort of thing.

So there I was busy reconnoitring the local shops, on the lookout for early Christmas presents for my daughter, a lively toddler who loves to challenge my creativity when it comes to gifts. Looking for that little something that was capable of exciting and delighting her in equal measure.

What better place then than Waterstones for such a gift? Not only do they have books aplenty but also some great toys and games and a fair few stocking fillers as well. Surely I would not leave there empty-handed?

But you see I did and for one simple reason, because in quick succession and from different parts of the store I found myself picking up a fairy model, a Christmas card and finally, next to the point of sale, a rather quaint wooden ‘model village set’ in a mesh bag. But not one of them had a price tag!

As I said not earth shattering, just hugely annoying because none were labeled with the price, nor were there prices shown on the shelves or above (I checked).

I mean WHY? How on earth does that help me, the customer to make an informed choice? How does it keep my desire in place to stay there and shop some more? ONLINE is killing you for goodness sake, shops are disappearing at a rate of knots and you make it difficult for me to buy. What earthly reason could there be for this lack of foresight?

It is not just Waterstones of course. There are many other outlets too numerous to mention that seem to have forgotten how to use the little sticky tape machine. But to see a bookshop forgetting how to price their stock seems absurd.

By the way I just looked up a similar wooden model village online; it took me seconds to find a shop called, appropriately enough, Past Times who were selling one at the very attractive price of £6.00

Perhaps someone can let Waterstones know?

Is the writing on the wall?


handwriting (Photo credit: eef-ink)

I listen to the radio a lot, mainly because I drive, a lot, which is why my inspiration for this blog often comes from having heard something that has struck a chord with me, leaving me feeling sad, happy or indeed sometimes howling with indignation.

Today’s emotion is unfortunately sadness, as I found myself listening to a perfectly enjoyable radio interview with Michael Palin on Radio 2 which touched on writing letters – fan letters to be precise.

Chris Evans, the presenter, commented on how ‘old school’ performers who used to appear on a previous show he presented would always write a letter afterwards thanking him for their invitation to appear. Something he said just didn’t happen nowadays.

This got me thinking about just how few letters are sent nowadays and how little joy the ones we do receive bring to us, corporate missives and bills in the main. How sad I thought that courtesy and manners are slipping along with the art of letter writing

What a coincidence then that upon arrival at work I found that I had received a handwritten letter, probably the first that I’ve seen this year and gosh did it stand out; mainly I think because the writing itself was beautifully presented and grammatically correct.

Personally I think that handwriting is a wonderful way of gaining a personal and unique insight into the sender by painting a picture about them that is sadly lacking in today’s world of quick emails and tweets.

I remember being forced by my parents to write endless thank you letters to relatives every Christmas and birthday when I was a child, looking enviously at my sisters beautiful writing and comparing it to my spider scrawl, never realising that in the future my skills would only be tested on keyboards and computers, mobile phones and tablets and that my poor handwriting really wouldn’t matter anymore to anyone but me.

My parents were great letter writers, their courtship was conducted long distance and their correspondence provided them with the means to express themselves to one another in a way that would prove impossible face to face and boy did their letters rock. Many years later both have passed away but their carefully preserved conversations remain an affectionate and living testimony to a deep and abiding love.

So it is fair to say that my emotions fluctuate between deep affection for the lost art of letter writing and a sense of sadness that later generation’s just won’t ‘get it’. Don’t get me wrong, I am not slating anyone. Indeed I wonder if I would have even noticed the fine detail in today’s handwritten letter if I hadn’t been prompted by the radio this morning.

But one thing I do know is that even though the contents of that letter were not what I wanted to read, their method and delivery softened the blow and allowed me to continue my day with a wry smile and a burning desire to put pen to paper again.

Now where do I keep my envelopes?

Autumn shadows

Gosh its starting to get cold in the morning. Twice this week I ‘ve had to scrape ice off the windscreen and wandering across the car park is no longer a case of grabbing my suit jacket but a full on overcoat job. Still it’s nice to see a change in the season and I feel ready for the winter months now with new boots and a very warm jacket indeed.

What is truly great about this time of year though is the amazing light in the sky. First thing in the morning and last thing at night it is truly inspirational. I spent about twenty minutes on the road today moving through traffic on the way to work and was fortunate enough to cross the Forth just as the sun broke through the cloud and just set the rail bridge blazing.

Scotland is blessed with beauty and cursed with rain. But sometimes you can be lucky enough to catch the perfect moment. Then it all seems worth it


(Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)


Fast cars

English: The Skelta G-Force, a car produced by...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I the only person in the world who is constantly disappointed with the drivers of little sports cars?

I mean, every day I drive to work and back, amble to and from the shops and on occasion even wander further afield. Yet hardly ever do I feel any sense of well-being when driving past smart cars or luxury vehicles.

I live in hope that just once the driver will match the promise. Maybe this time they will be a gorgeous female model or a smart suited city gent tanned and handsome. But no, invariably they are old, dry skinned, fat or far too skinny with all the life leached out of them. Maybe that’s why they look so very unhappy with their lot. Which is a shame when you think about it.

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