How to Pay More and Get Less

February 15, 2014

So today I am bumbling round our local supermarket (Waitrose – “Ooh get me being so  lah-di-da”, but no. They are our closest) looking for routine supplies and I stumble across shelves full of empty jars.

No frills. Just jars

No frills. Just jars

What? Why would a supermarket sell empty jars. Or more correctly why would anyone BUY empty jars? Then I remember. I am in Waitrose. Home of the middle classes (self included) who don’t have to worry about a few pounds here and there. It’s less of “You look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” and more “You look after yourself dahling and the masses can fend for themselves”

Anyway, in the ‘home cookery’ section with numerous shaped biscuit cutters, muffin cases and the like.All in pretty polka dots and pastel shades.  And these empty jars will be for the jam-makers. But not the ordinary jam makers like my husband who has made jam year in year out from his home grown blackberries. No, presumably these are the “I want to be a retro housewife/goddess/but most of all a fabulous Mummy” jam makers and the ” I  don’t care how much money I throw at it as long as I can post a pretty pic on Pinterest of my gingham topped, hand labelled jars and impress everyone so much they want to punch me.” jam makers. These empty, unadorned, stand alone standard screw top jars (made by Tala the icing people who no doubt think they are on to a good thing) are £2 or £3 each. Each. Yes each.

I was so taken aback I actually plodded to jams to find the standard own label jam comes in at 95p.

Under a quid

Under a quid

Even organic with a fancy quasi french look to it comes in at less than £2 and you get the jam in it already!waitrose 003

And remember. This is Waitrose – Tesco do one for 29p.

Tesco own label - 29p

Tesco own label – 29p

Why wouldn’t you just buy the jam and give away the contents rather than pay a premium for an empty jar? Some people astound me.


Life on the wards

February 14, 2014

A long long time ago, when I used to work on hospital wards, nurses were assigned to one particular ward and the doctors would be covering a number of different wards. So obviously the nurses would spend more time with each individual patient than we did and would get to know them better.

In those days nurses did nursing. The caring, the chatting, the feeding, bathing and hand holding. As well as the routine observations or ‘obs’ as they were known, that they filled in on the chart at the end of the bed. To be honest the latter were the least reliable bits. Pulse and temperature they usually seemed to manage OK, BP a bit hit and miss and hardly ever was respiratory rate recorded correctly – they just seemed to take a guess. Fluids in and out could be fairly random, but unless there was a concern over the patient’s kidneys as long as they were peeing we were happy. And for the vast majority of patients it was the human care that they were getting from the nurses that was by far the most important. Obviously in the wards where patients were very sick, then the observations took on a greater importance and were done with more diligence. But still the nurses did the caring. The gentle rinsing out of dry mouths with swabs, helping people to the toilet, painting nails and washing hair if they had time or the hairdresser wasn’t available, changing dressings, changing sheets, plumping pillows.

And we of course would swan in, white coats flapping, following the Consultant on his ward round (and they were nearly all ‘his’ in those days), trying to anticipate the questions and furiously writing down the notes and instructions being barked at us. Sister would push the trolley round and hand out the notes of the relevant patient. Each Consultant had their own preferences, which Sister knew all too well. One would want to be handed the patient notes, another would want the Registrar to have them. We’d view the XRays by holding them up to the windows, or move to the light boxes if we wanted to see real detail. In these situations Sister was far more senior than we were and could silence you with a flare of the eyebrow if she thought you were going to annoy her Consultant. She prided herself on looking after his every whim and making sure everything was ship shape.

Curtains around the bed would sometimes cause a few stifled giggles  (and a  raised eyebrow from Sister) when they would appear to have a life of their own and trap people in them. Or when they would simply peel off the rail completely when you pulled them. But the best comedy moment of ward rounds I have been on was when the Consultant, a fairly bumbling, untidy kind of guy, somehow  got the zip of his trousers caught in the handle of the notes trolley. When Sister set off for the next bed he was suddenly yanked  at such speed that when she stopped as soon as she realised what was happening, he still travelled forward so that his head ended up in the files and his feet shot out from under him and he accidentally kicked a junior doctor in the nuts. It was like something from a Carry On film; Sister mortified at what she’d done, the Consultant with bright red marks on his face where the metal bits of the files had dug in to him and his trousers still caught up in the trolley, one SHO (junior doctor)  bent over nursing his groin, and me and a nurse desperately trying not to laugh.

I know I am aged. I know I am not street. But this is about work communications. Not banter between friends. Not text speak. This is when one is trying to have a professional relationship. In these circumstances I cannot understand why one wouldn’t want to speak as plainly and clearly as possible. Why do people feel the need to overcomplicate things? And make up new words or new meanings for old words?

The 3 offenders that have annoyed me already today are:

  1. Ahead of:  As in “Ahead of our meeting today I wanted to …”Ahead is in front of in a physical sense, not on the time space continuum. What is wrong with ‘before’?
  2. Upskill.  As in “We need to upskill the team so they understand the core demographic.” What happened to train? Teach?Improve?
  3. Revert. As in “I will revert as soon as I know the answer”.  What  – they will return to a state that they used to be in? Become embryonic? Primordial? Revert means to return to a previous condition or state – it doesn’t mean “I will get back to you.”

You might have thought I had exhausted all my energies on hating the way language is used in previous posts. But I haven’t. Just as I was about to post this my blue touch paper has been lit by the suggestion to ‘reach out’ at the end of an email rather than straightforward suggestion to ‘contact’. “I’ll let you reach out to x directly.”
I don’t want to ‘reach out’ to colleagues. If I need them, I’ll email. Or call. “Reaching out” is overblown, emotive, nauseaous. It conjours up visions of the comfortably off opening their loving arms and hearts to touch the poor and needy.
If I get another one today, I might just revert to my previous neanderthal  self ,  ‘reach out’ and club someone.

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