Grinding my gears

Regular readers know only too well that here at NonBeige we don’t live in the past; we grab the present by the throat and head towards the future with a beaming grin on our face. However, a recent run in with a CCTV camera that resulted in me getting a ticket for the heinous crime of parking on a yellow line for the sum total of 1 minute and 45 seconds got me thinking.

I have no intention of ever becoming a “grumpy old man” but there really are some features of our modern world that really do get me embracing my inner curmudgeon.

1. Backpacks


Now, I’ve never been a fan of public transport. Buses take forever and the London Underground system is packed, dirty, hot and just generally unpleasant.  Nevertheless sometimes I have no option but to join the throng and make use of what is available. To add insult to injury there is a now a new threat sweeping the capital that ensures an added frisson of discomfort to the unavoidable commute. What is this object of evil? It is Dear Reader the common backpack.

Everybody seems to have one. They take up almost double the space of a normal human body and without fail at some point in your journey you’ll get barged, bullied or bashed by one.

I have no truck with them being used by genuine travellers or tourists after all they are entitled to tote their worldly goods the most effective way possible. It’s just their use by the rest of the city I just don’t get.

What vitally important objects are being stored in them? We live in an age of miniaturisation. Our smart phones are pocket sized. Laptops and tablets are slim and lightweight and have neat little cases or covers. Documents and files fit in briefcases that have, probably, got more than enough room for your sandwiches too. If women need a change of shoes handbags come in all sorts of sizes and plenty of them will accommodate a pair of stilettos and – let’s be honest – the rest of the contents of a small bungalow.

So why the bloody backpack? It can’t be ‘cos they are a fashion statement, most of them are just plain ugly.  Answers on a post card please.

2. Speed bumps

speed bump

Back above ground I can relax in the comfort of my car and glide effortless around ensconced in air conditioned comfort and enjoying the smooth ride effected by the state of the art suspension……no, I bleedin’ can’t! Why not? Because of traffic calming devices better known as speed bumps or sleeping policemen..

I completely understand the concept. Ensuring that vehicles in urban and suburban streets cannot cause a threat to life and limb by driving in a reckless manner. All well and good, all very sensible. My issue is why oh why are they all of different sizes? Some are rounded, some are square, some are short and some are long but most importantly some of them are just plain dangerous. Even travelling at an acceptable rate of knots I’ve scraped the underside of my vehicle on countless occasions and one memorable night on a darkened street I nearly knocked my teeth out as the bump was nigh on invisible and so high it might as well have been a brick wall. Still, I’m sure every local council has a very valid reason for creating them like that…..shares in Kwik Fit?

Having avoided the “tube” and manoeuvred around the pot-holes and speed bumps I arrive at my local supermarket to stock up on a few basic necessities.

3. Self service checkouts

self checkout

Of course there’s a massive queue at all the manned checkouts, in other words 6 out of the 10 or 12 available, so the logical solution is the self-service checkouts.

The process starts…invariably badly. “Unknown article in bagging area”. What article? Ok start again. Firstly, I should free up a carrier bag. Easier said than done. Trying to separate plastic bags on the dispenser is like wading through treacle. After destroying two or three (sorry environment) I free up a pesky little blighter and proceed.

Bar code – bleep, bar code – bleep, bar code – no bleep. Try again, no bleep….Help! After they have dealt with the three other hapless self servers who are all struggling an assistant sidles over. “The machine won’t read this item!” They studiously inspect said item. “Sorry Sir, you have to fold back the wrapping so it can read it properly…there you go”, “Thanks”.

A few more items pass through successfully and then it’s the bottle of vodka. Firstly it has to have the security widget removed and secondly an assistant has to verify that I’m over 18…please, please, please ask me for I.D.

Bottle set free and age verified I am now ready to insert card, complete transaction and go on my way. As I pack the last bag and look up I notice there are at least three manned checkouts with absolutely no one there!

4. Werthers original advert


Back home, fresh cup of coffee and time for a spot of telly. No more than ten minutes in there it is. That blasted advert. “Do you remember when you first went to your favourite caramel shop?” No I bloody don’t and do you know why I don’t? Because I have never seen a caramel shop in over 60 years. Not here, not in Europe, not in the States not anywhere. I’ve even asked friends and none of them have ever seen one either. Is there some sort of secret society that has access to an underground network of these exclusive establishments?  If so it’s time they were outted if for no other reason than the safety of their grandchildren’s teeth.  (See the advert here)

I was going to end the article here and ask you to submit your own personal little gripes about contemporary living, except as I was editing my writing I got distracted by a phone call. The caller asked me to check something on my computer, checking duly done I started closing down the files. Unfortunately the process also included wiping the original article which I have just completely rewritten. So the final thing that gets my goat is my own techie stupidity…GRRRR!