Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keeping in touch!

There was a time that we all lived in a village - three generations of a family would often live in the same street and sometimes in the same house! Technology and globalisation have changed not only the way we work and live but also family life. I am so grateful for the fact that I can have regular physical contact with my family here but also that I communicate regularly with my family in the UK.  When we first came to South Africa we had to rely on the post to keep in touch - international phone calls were very expensive and only for emergencies or desperate homesickness - which counted as an emergency! If there was a faulty public telephone within an hour's drive,  word went around the immigrant community and there would be a long queue of people trying hard not to look suspicious or that they were engaged in criminal activity lest Telkom be alerted to the fact that we were phoning 'home' for the price of a local call!
Skype has changed all that and in recent years I can be in touch with family every day for free and Skype has enabled me to travel around my sisters home on her laptop to see her latest d├ęcor projects and to give (and receive)wardrobe advice. Skype also kept me in touch (and sane) when my grandies went to live in Pretoria for a while. There are many, many Skype parents and grandparents in society who so look forward to virtual conversations - communicating in this way is changing peoples lives. Through writing this blog, I discovered the term 'Skype Granny' not only refers to a techno granny but also to a whole team of retired people who are reading to and assisting with education in 3rd world countries - you can read about it here.

It must be more than a bit bewildering for a young child to be placed in front of the computer and be expected to have a l-o-n-g conversation with an adult. I can remember the strain of keeping a conversation going with Jessica and Craig - who was only a baby at the time and the only way to get any of his attention was to Skype at feeding time.   Kids at the best of times struggle to sit still for 5 minutes and this artificial situation does put a strain on all concerned and it doesn't come anywhere close to a snuggle with a fairy story. A friend of mine had a particularly disappointing Skype experience this week.
After having a Skype conversation with her adult daughter, the grandparents were  handed over to her 5 year old grandson who chatted for a wee while (Aye they are in Scotland) and then announced that he was handing them over to the dogs. "No"! they shouted, "Please don't!" - to no avail. They were carried on the ipad protesting to where the dogs were, which happened to be under the table. Finding themselves under the table with the dogs was more than a little disappointing when they wanted to find out how their grandson was getting on a school! To add insult to injury, the dogs clearly didn't want to Skype either and promptly got up and left their under-the-table sanctuary, leaving two unhappy grandparents with a view of the underside of a table top and no one listening to their shouts for help.
Sometimes you have no alternative but to hang up!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cape Town Vibes

I am having a real love affair with Cape Town at the moment. I have always loved coming here and right now Cape Town seems to be the place to BE! this is what I am loving about BEing here this week:-
  • There is an optimism here that is missing from PE - Cape Town has a pulse while PE seems to be on life support.
  • Business is brisk - the shops are busy and service is generally good - (but not a Boardman's Canal Walk yesterday)
  • There are places to eat other than the dreaded Franchises!
  • There is a Woollies food store on every corner.
  • The streets are clean - in fact everything seems cleaner.
  • That mountain is just BEautiful.
  • Kirstenbosch was just like botanical heaven today - it was lovely to see families picnicking and spending time in nature and taking their rubbish home with them.
  • It's great to stretch my legs along the Atlantic seaboard - fresh air, seagulls and the walkway is close to the ocean.
  • Sunsets...need I say more!!
  • I haven't seen any  rusting old jalopies held together with tape on the roads.
  • I saw a really good movie that didn't have aliens, superheroes or animals that talk in it! Shadow Dancer - Well scripted, great acting and with a twist in the tale!
  • There is so much to DO - This is my 3rd visit this year and I still have a list of stuff that I haven't done or seen and that I want to do!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Everyone knows I ♥ my toes!

I have romantic toes! Yes - it was confirmed today that I have toes that snog while I am otherwise occupied. I had to book an appointment with my foot doctor (podiatrist) as since I came back from Australia last year I have had a sore little toe - a tiny toe that I was hardly aware of. Granted I did schlep a lot around Melbourne...and Sydney and duty free, and while I was doing this my little toe fell in love with the toe next to it. As their relationship developed - they became inseparable and I developed a kissing corn. Isn't that a cute term? In reality it is a painful experience...but love does hurt sometimes. I had to put a stop to things today and my podiatrist has prescribed a protective cover - a gel condom - for the worst offender and so until my baby toe can behave herself she will have to get used to the separation. I am having no trouble getting used to walking on Cloud 9. I think I will paint the town red and my toes ♥

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Respect is a Verb

In response to a request, I am putting together a presentation on etiquette in the business world. I usually dread such sessions as I find it amazing that grown up people who have had an education and have been successful in getting employment, don't know how to behave. I feel a bit silly being paid to address the topic and wonder if it is a genuine need or the desire of someone else (a manager) to impose their rules of behaviour. Etiquette is a term that refers to behaviour in polite society and it seems that people have forgotten how to be polite. Perhaps because I am reflecting on and exploring this topic, I have been more aware of manners or rather the lack of them in the last couple of weeks. "Manners maketh man" seems to belong to an era long ago when the motto was chosen by William of Wykeham for the school he founded – Winchester. Thank Heavens that we are not governed any more by the strict code of conduct enforced by the Victorians but this phrase is as true today as it ever was. You can tell a lot about a man or a woman by the way they behave and communicate and even more by observing them when they are angry or upset. Here are some of the things that I have witnessed lately that have convinced me that it is necessary to have this discussion with working 'adults' :-

  • People arriving after late at the movies today who just trampled past me while making their way along the row to their seats - no "excuse me" or "thank you" and talking as they went despite the movie having started.
  • Knives and forks just abandoned on plates or sometimes next to them - instead of being placed neatly together at the end of a meal.
  • Courtesy in shops is declining at an alarming rate - no greetings and a lack of please and thank you.
  • It was so nice to have the door held open this week while entering a company. While etiquette is almost dead, chivalry is on life support!
  • The Telegraphs writes about it here.
  • Mobile phones are really not to be answered when enjoying a meal with  guests and the side plate is not meant to hold yours! 
  • In fact if you are in a restricted place with another person, like a lift or car you really should ask their permission to answer your phone.
  • When do you stop reminding people to switch off their phones? It should be common sense to switch them off in class, church or the theatre!
  • A "high five" may be acceptable when with your bro' but it doesn't belong in the boardroom or the office.
  • I was taught at school to keep strong opinions about what I dislike - particularly about food to myself - Its just not polite to say you 'hate' something or that it is "gross". One mans meat is another mans poison was the term used at school.
  • Lets not go into snorting, grunting, coughing all over people and not covering your mouth when yawning - I am shaking my head!
These are just a few of the things that I have noticed in the past week that have convinced me that it is necessary to remind people about courtesy. I don't come from a wealthy family, nor did I go to a Public School but I was raised to be kind, considerate and respectful. Etiquette is a combination of all these ....and respect is a verb!