On Tuesday we had one of those palindromic dates – 22/02/2022; it reads the same forwards as backwards and in a digital format upside down. The comedians also refer to it as Twosday, presumably a nod to the Winnie the Pooh stories and Owl’s inability to spell, although Pooh’s feathered friend would be the last to admit it!
(Thanks to Beth St Claire in Auckland for this)
Not sure what goes on with coincidental observations. Is it our minds that are unconsciously seeking connections that we subconsciously are eager to see? Let me explain. I have started painting again after many years of inaction and needed some paper to sketch out an idea. Sellotaping sheets of A4 together worked but I suddenly thought of those flipchart paper pads that I used frequently in past careers.
A visit to the nearest Rymans, a High Street stationery shop, saw me heading home, a rolled pad under my arm and £16 poorer! The next day we arrived at the Yoga Studio early, to find the lovely Armando Colucci waiting. Armi works for Schwarzkopf UK (Note 1) as their Academy Coordinator and under his arm …… was a roll of flipchart paper!! Actually his was a very superior type, magnetic and wipeable; he was off to London after class and the paper roll wouldn’t fit in his suitcase.
After last week’s postcard about phrases (PC 270), the very next day I find Robert Crampton’s column in the Saturday Times starting: “I reckon the worst phrase in the English language is: ‘I like you … as a friend.’” He went on to mention phrases that he liked or disliked. In the latter camp was his wife’s ‘It was the one thing I asked you to do.’, trotted out on her return from a few days away and necessary because he clearly hadn’t done the one thing she had asked of him!
The third coincidence was a mention of ‘ad infinitum’ in some television drama script. Having written it the day before was it simply lurking in the background of the subconscious? One of my regular readers asked what other phrases I use; I jotted down ‘A miss is as good as a mile’ and ‘inch by inch life’s a cinch, yard by yard life is hard’ (Note 2) and realised my engineering education may have given me a bias towards numerical phrases. Just a thought!
As I entered The Hope Café this week I thought I would do more than nod to the grey haired chap in his regular seat and say ‘hello’, for how else do you develop a ‘community spirit’? Having got my coffee from Susie I stopped by his table and introduced myself. He smiled in recognition, said his name was Sami Gupta and suggested I sit down. He put aside a hardback copy of ‘This Charming Man’ by Marian Keyes.
“Such a great book!” I declared, having read it last year, and he smiled in agreement. Old habits, such as my initial need to understand someone’s back story, die hard and I found myself asking if his parents had come from India.
“Do you know, my mother was English? She was working in the Colonial Civil Service in Gujarat when she met and married my father; 1946 I think. The following year the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan, and the majority of Anglo Indians decided to leave. My parents settled in Southall, which was rapidly developing into a ‘Little Punjab’. I was born in 1956 and after school worked for the Post Office. Eventually I became a sub-post office manager in the main one in Southall.”
Southall lies to the north east of London’s Heathrow Airport
“Please don’t tell me, Sami, that you’re a victim of the Post Office scandal?” (See PC 235 June 2021)
“Actually I am! Got charged six years ago with fraud, as £10,000 was missing. I was taken to court, fined, declared myself bankrupt and left the Post Office. Have been unable to find a job since so come in here, read books I get from the library and enjoy the warmth and atmosphere of this café.”
After the successful High Court action that has led to the Public Inquiry
“I would love to know a little more of what’s happening with the Government Inquiry but this morning I need to complete my next post, so can we get together next week here?”
“Of course! Good luck and chat next week.”
Back at ‘my’ table, I glance through my cuttings. Here in the United Kingdom a debate about one’s gender has been rumbling, in the background for most of us, in the front line if you are unsure of your gender or sexuality. I read that ‘trans people do not feel safe here’ but ‘for the average Briton allowing people to legally define their own gender presents no concern at all’. To be honest, I don’t think ‘public opinion’ has really considered the topic, as most of us are happy to think of him and her, mother and father and raise our eyes to heaven when we read that ‘birthing parent’ should replace ‘mother’!
Where the topic is interesting is on the sports field. Individuals who have changed gender should not be able to take part in competitions of the opposite sex. This is particularly true of those trans males competing against females; too much testosterone in their bodies that can’t be erased!!
Richard 25th February 2022
PS Today we wish our friend Sandie a Happy 50th Birthday!
PPS I am trying to persuade Rahmi to quit smoking. Yesterday I told him he would have saved £715 if he had stopped his packet-a-day habit on 1st January 2022. He probably thinks I’m a plonker!
Note 1 Always amuses me that an international company dealing with hair colouring products and shampoos is called Schwarzkopf. For ‘schwarzer kopf’ translates as ‘Black Head’!
Note 2 This does not work well in the metric system: “Two point five four centimetres by two point five four …….” You get the problem!