Friday, 23 May 2014

If Hell Is A Computer Mega Store, Then Heaven Is Creeping Thistles, Pill Woodlice, Nettle Weevils And The Dusk Coming Quietly Down....

Yesterday, I spent a small fortune on a new laptop for L. Computers are an essential part of secondary school kit these days- all the homework is set on line, most of it is completed that way too, and if it isn't, then it often needs to be presented via power point or excel. There is no getting away from the fact that a decent laptop is not a luxury anymore.

The fact that it also gets used to a higher degree for the playing of games and the skyping of friends all round the country and indeed the world most nights is neither here nor there, apparently :-)

So, it was off to our local computer mega-store (which is the absolute definition of Hell On Earth for me) after school. Forty minutes later I was suffocating in a window-less hanger buzzing with a thousand different electrical force fields, my ears assaulted by music I didn't want to listen to, my eyes squinting from the constant stream of movies and adverts flashing out continually from a thousand different screens in a thousand different positions, and I had been divested of five hundred quid, plus another thirty five for a laptop that had already been backed up, because apparently windows won't do that and it takes hours and you need a certain type of USB which costs the same anyway (all said in a breathless hurried rush because the people who run these stores have cunningly worked out that most of us haven't got a clue what they're on about and if they speak really fast without pausing for breath at all we'll be so grateful when they stop we'll agree to anything). 

If I hadn't already been deeply suspicious of the modus operandi of these places, we would have been fleeced for another hundred quid for Microsoft Office, eight for some back-up protection we didn't want, and another forty for anti-virus software. When I said we already had anti-virus, quick as a flash the girl with too much makeup, lots of jangly jewellery and even more attitude who was serving us tried to put the frighteners on me by predicting Happenings Of Immense Gloom because 'did you know not many anti-viruses protect for identity theft and you really need that, just saying.' 

I felt like asking whether many computer mega-stores protected for their customers getting severely pissed off by their staff gabbling away at five thousand miles an hour and talking to them as if they were complete idiots who'd come down in the last rain shower, but thought better off it. She wouldn't have heard me anyway, because by that point she was too busy flirting with the boy who was drowning in aftershave who'd come over to input his code on the till (for which action we were doubtless also charged in some way). 
I endured watching them inanely sticking bits of label on various parts of their anatomies for a few minutes, and didn't find it Remotely Hilarious in the way they seemed to, before, apparently remembering we were still there and she was supposed to be serving us, she casually chucked a direct debit mandate at me and asked me to 'sign on the dotted.' 

I was Pretty Pissed Off by this point and something sort of snapped.
'Why?' I said.
A response that clearly wasn't covered in her sales patter script.
She stopped trying to stick the label on the back of the boy's neck and stared at me.
'It aint nothing bad.'
'I've paid for the computer' I said, 'so why do you need my signature on a direct debit form as well?'
She stared some more as if seeing me for the first time.
'It's for the 30 days free protection.'
'Why do I need to sign a direct debit form it if it's free?'
She thought about this for a minute or two.
'Cos it proves it's your card.'
'But you're not taking any money from it because this service is free, so you don't need to prove whether it's my card or not.'
This seemed to be more than her brain could cope with.
'It aint nothing bad,' she said again.

This could have gone of for Quite Some Time and it is Conceivable that I might have died there. Deciding I had had enough of sitting in that horrible place and had better things to do with my time than argue with an idiot, I signed the paper and we left, me vowing loudly NEVER to set foot in that place or any like it EVER AGAIN.

L, whose sense of humour is rather like my own, grinned as the air turned into a small blue cloud around us with all the colourful and inventive adjectives I was finding to describe the place, and said as we reached the car 'I think I might try for a job there when I'm older.'

Because he was a Captive Audience and I was still feeling Cross (despite the venting of, by that point, quite a substantial number of adjectives, some of which were wholly unheard of before and quite possibly shouldn't have been used together) I subjected him to a Long And Serious Lecture all the way home about Ambition and Application and ended with a Dire Warning that working in windowless, airless, humourless, jangling with electricity, bleak computer mega-stores for the rest of your life is what happens to you as punishment if you spend too long playing on your computer and not enough time doing your homework and learning your spellings. 

In response to this well-observed and adroitly delivered piece of Parental Guidance, he plugged in his I-Pod and I was forced to listen to second-hand metallic 'chh, chh, chh, chh' the rest of the way home. I put Radio 4 on as revenge, but to be honest it wasn't that much better. I think I'll get a birdsong CD for the car instead.....

Right, on to calmer things. 

The dogs and I went up to the old vineyard a couple of evenings ago when it was last sunny. It's so long since it was managed in any way that this year there are many interesting plant and insect species to be found, so I took the decent camera and spent an hour pottering while the dogs tracked bunnies, collected about a thousand burs on their tummies, legs, tails, ears and noses, and managed not to roll in fox poo....

Here are the results....

Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis), also known as Alkanet. Its numbers have plummeted since the 1950s thanks to agricultural intensification and it is now quite hard to find in some places, so it's a treat to have a huge patch of it growing on our doorstep. It is beloved of bees and flutters.

Our Buzzard out hunting

Creeping Thistle

Dandelion Clock

Forget Me Not...

7 Spot Ladybird

It's perilous in the undergrowth

Phyllobius pomaceus Nettle Weevil. Lots of these folk about. I love them :-)

Pill Woodlouse! My Favourite Type :-)
Plantain Seed Head

Can't go far without spotting a moth. This Silver-Ground Carpet flew past my nose and alighted on the Alder nearby

Flutter eggs on underside of Nettle (small tort?)

Spittle Bug (Froghopper)

Creeping Thistle Flower

Creeping Thistle Stalks

White Campion

Wild Strawberry

It's raining here at the moment. I am hoping for a dryer afternoon to seek out flutters, but we will have to see. In the meantime housework beckons.... :-(

Have a great weekend all,

CT x


  1. Oh my word I was snorting with laughter after reading the first part of your post, I am so, so glad I found your blog. My dear it could have been me myself in your place! My youngest son lovingly looks over the counter at a major burger bar & often comments how he would like to work there. Same lecture takes place including the need to pay for a mortgage, family, pension & have savings & same response, but I really don't think he is joking awful child! Lovely photos as always, I hope you have a calm weekend.

    1. Oh Joanne you have my sympathies. They do know how to push our buttons these children of ours, don't they? You'll have to remind him of his wish to serve burgers all his life when he's a high-flying lawyer! :-)

  2. This is hysterical!!!!! When I bought my new laptop - in a well known department store that claims to be never knowingly undersold - I told the child that was serving me that I was a blogger and needed something good for photos etc etc. He looked at me as though I had two heads and could not even know what a blog was, let alone write one. You have my total sympathies as I know just what it is like after that experience!!!!!!!!! I totally agree with you about the talking so fast thing, horrendous isn't it! There is very little - apart from destitution - that would induce me to work in one of those places. Having said that they would probably not want me as I would talk to customers as though they were real people! At least you will have your laptop back again. Hope that your weekend is less stressful! xx

    1. Glad it gave you a smile. I don't know what it is about those kinds of places.... x

  3. Too good! I had a similar experience in my local book shop the other day. It was all going well. I was talking to the young male sales assistant about books (obvs), and the a young lovely came in through the door and that was it. Flirting over the counter and totally ignoring me. Two things 1. a realisation that I ma no spring chicken. 2. how bloody rude!
    Have a great weekend.
    Leanne xx

  4. "It ain't nothing bad" - I'd have to be restrained from giving her a punch in the head for uttering that little horror. Those places get on my nerves as well.

  5. I know I shouldn't be laughing at your expense, but this was hilarious! I think you could submit this to a magazine. It would have a very good chance of getting printed. You might also consider emailing it to the store management.

    Your pictures are beautiful, especially the ones of the lady bug. :-)

    1. Thanks Kristie :-) Glad you enjoyed. I seem to find myself in these situations all too often.... :-)

  6. I've just hopped onto your blog from somewhere - and smiled all the way through your visit to the computer place. I've remembered why we use our little computer shop in the local town, it might be a tad more expensive but much easier.
    I love your pictures. Will be back to visit again now I've found you.

    1. Your computer shop sounds like exactly the sort of place I need to find :-) Thanks for the comment.

  7. Great post, love your photos, I still haven't managed to find a Pill Woodlouse,fingers crossed the rain stops this week..

    1. Sunday forecast is good... I seem to be seeing Pill WHs wherever I go at the mo...I'll send some your way :-)

  8. Great post - really laughed at the mega store story. Had a similar experience and emotions myself recently!!

    Love all the wildflower photos and the nettle weevil is rather cute - will be keeping an eye out for that species :)

    1. I was in such a foul temper when we left :-( I hope I remember never to go back...

      Check your nettles- I've seen lots of these little bright weevils all over the place in the last fortnight :-)

  9. I hate computer stores, they are so mind-numbingly boring and I avoid them at all costs, especially as the staff usually know less about computers than even me. As a result I always try and buy the most powerful machine going in the hope that it should last at least 10 years before it needs replacing !

    Love the wildflower and insect pics, especially that rather handsome Weevil, and many thanks for another enjoyable and entertaining blog post :-)

    1. That sounds like an extremely sensibly policy, and one which I shall follow from now on too...:-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x