Thursday, 28 May 2015

What's wrong with a handshake?

Can I just ask, what's with all the air-kissing and hugging these days?

Call me old fashioned, but when I'm meeting somebody I don't know particularly well, I think that shaking hands is a perfectly acceptable form of greeting.

In a 'previous life' I soon found out that in the industry in which I was working air-kissing was the expected greeting at meetings, from males, females, young and old.

I still cringe at the awkwardness of proffering a hand for a handshake, only to find the recipient closing in for a kiss - yes, this happened to me, and I was left whacking him in the stomach, but I know it could have been so much worse.  Gives a whole new unfortunate dimension to the term 'pressing the flesh'!

I was beginning to wonder if I was unusual in that I reserve hugging and kissing for family members or close friends, however, having asked around, I realise I'm not alone.

Generally, the feeling seems to be that a hand-shake is always perfectly acceptable.  In fact, more than that - I would say that it should be the only form of greeting in a business environment.

A hand-shake can't be misconstrued - it is what it is.  A social pleasantry, complete with a formal 'How do you do?' or more informally 'Pleased to meet you'.  Nobody can be offended by that.

Whereas social kissing is a minefield.  Which cheek do you go for first?  If you get it wrong you clash noses at best, and end up head-butting somebody at worst. 

How many times do you do it - one on each cheek, or maybe a third (kiss, not cheek), but surely no more than three?  What if you end up kissing the person's ear?  It's just awful.

But worst of all are those who try to kiss others on the lips in a social greeting context.  Please, nobody try that on me - I reserve the right to turn my head so we at best clash noses!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

What's in a name?

I know a bit of time has elapsed since our latest Princess was born and named, but I like the names given to her.

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana pays tribute to both paternal grandparents and great-grandmother, so seems very fitting.

I'm a big fan of family names.  My daughter and nephew both have monikers which have been in our families for generations, and I think it's nice to carry on these traditions.

Names are so important, aren't they?  I know they can be changed by deed poll if you really hate them, but other than that you really are stuck with them for life.

That's why I feel naming a child is a huge responsibility, not to be taken lightly.

I'm guessing that there's not many babies being named 'Helen' at the moment.  Names come in and out of fashion, and mine was big in the 1970s (as well as Ancient Greece).

When I think of the people I was at school with, in my class we had three Helens, three Lisas, a couple of Katies, and in my year there were a number of Karens, Sarahs and Claires.

According to the top names for girls in the UK in 2014 were Sophia, Emily and Lily, while for boys they were Muhammad, Oliver and Jack.

Interestingly, this website also lists the names on the verge of extinction - for girls these are Bertha, Corrine, Dinah, Edwina, Philomena and Gretchen. 

For boys, it appears that we're no longer naming them Bertram, Clifford, Frasier, Godfrey, Mortimer or Virgil.

It also speculated on why these names were unpopular, and it turns out it can be negative associations which put people off.  I can relate to this - I remember a bully at school, and that put me off that name for life.

But I think with the above list it is probably associations with MPs and TV programmes which are the cause - nobody wants to name their child after a Thunderbird, a radio-psychiatrist, an egg-obsessed former Health Minister or a cartoon Big Red Dog, do they?!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Election result 2015

Well, the opinion polls certainly got it wrong, didn't they?

Personally I've never had much faith in them anyway - I don't think I know anyone who's ever been asked, so from where exactly do they get their information, and is it the same people they ask for Family Fortunes?

I didn't stay up all night to watch the results, I watched the exit poll information at 10pm and then went to bed, wondering if people had actually been truthful when answering.  Now we know the result, I guess they must have been.

Truthfully, this has to be the most interesting election result I can remember.  There were lots of surprises, followed by the inevitable stream of leadership resignations,  with many well-known names now looking for employment elsewhere.

I also believe the turnout was higher than in previous years, and for the first time I can remember I had to queue at my local polling station. 

We did have three ballot papers to complete though - UK Parliamentary, borough council and parish council elections - so that could have been why it took more time.

I took my 11 year old daughter with me, as I think it's important to get children engaged in politics from an early age.

A bit like you take them to the Dentist's before they've got teeth, I want her to grow up knowing that voting is an ordinary part of life, and nothing to be scared of.

I feel that voting is a responsibility to be taken seriously, never forgetting that people died to give me the freedom to vote, not just in wars, but also suffragettes.  Sadly, there are still some places where women can't vote.

Plus my grandmother always told me that you should vote, because if you don't, you can't complain about the result.

Interesting times are ahead - the Scottish results show that, let's see what happens over the next five years.  In the meantime I'm looking forward to the next episodes of Have I Got News For You and Newzoids!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Our throw-away society...

Regular readers will be aware that for some time now I've been writing about waste plants and how I'm opposed to them.

But I do also appreciate that we all create waste.  We have a responsibility to do something about the amount we create and what we do with it.

My family and I went on a community litter pick the other weekend.  We spent a Saturday morning going around the streets of the area we live with a group of people collecting bags of rubbish.

Amongst the more bizarre finds were a washing basket, a pair of pants and a set of furry dice - yes, the mind boggles.

But the majority of litter consisted of the usual suspects - fast-food packaging, chocolate wrappers, empty drinks cans, and hundreds of cigarette butts.

This makes me really cross, on two levels.  The first that anybody thinks it is acceptable to simply throw their litter into the nearest hedgebottom, the second that we are creating so much waste that isn't biodegradable.

I mentioned in a previous column about dog poo bags and how they're going to preserve our dogs' waste for the next millennium - I do believe that people should of course collect their dogs' poop but ensure that it's in biodegradable bags.

If we all do our bit, we can make a difference.  Each of us needs to look at what we buy, how it's wrapped, how much food we waste because of sell-by dates or multi-buy offers etc, and make that change.

For example, I would love to see a return to paper bags for fruit and veg and other groceries.  I remember my parents buying just what we needed from market stalls and the purchases coming home wrapped in paper bags, which were then reused for something else.

I have had enough of our throw-away society, and I'm sure I'm not alone. 

Reduce, re-use, recycle should become our mantra for helping preserve our environment for future generations - let's all commit to doing our bit.