Sunday, 4 August 2013

A post of many parts.

It's hot and humid.  I watched on of those drama documentaries last night on youtube about what would happen if society collapsed, I went to bed hoping to die before morning - and woke up with a sore throat, I may have been screaming in my sleep. Have just had a text from friends in Liverpool who are in Brighton for the day - have not seen them in years so I'm meeting them later.

Part 1

Walked the dogs through one of the campsites, at saturation point due to Hastings Carnival. Campers here are usually either English and ordinary working class - they have big tents, large families, barbeque's and dogs, some of them leave their rubbish behind - or Dutch /German/French - who are very polite - have MASSIVE mobile homes with satellite dishes, but cannot read road maps or take directions. Today I saw a new variety. Brand new 'vintage style' VW camper van in Farrow and Ball colours, filled with wicker picnic baskets and the worlds largest private collection of Kath Kidson home wares - they had two very refined looking whippets, both wearing spotted neckerchiefs. I wanted to run and hide.

Last night I had a MASSIVE spike in hits on here, I think I know why, I'll go into detail later - but it's fascinating how interconnected the internet is - I suppose the clue is in the name - which leads me to -

Part 2

TwitterSilence. So - the trolls have won, women are being driven from the interweb by their own hand. Honestly - my stream is rammed with people telling the world they are not tweeting. I get the feeling that if I tweet today - which I don't - I'm a woman hater by default. I really like twitter as a work tool - we had a conversation in the studio this week about work magazines and periodicals - nobody subscribes any more because everything gets posted online instantly. I know exactly whats happening in my industry at any time. Sadly, I also have to plough through a forrest of re-tweets by 'opinion makers' and bored journalists who tweet drunk, or angry, or when they are bored and nobody is listening to them and they feel the need to be heard, loved and worshiped. I've never liked Caitlin Moran paricularly - I've never read her book, apparently it's very good, even people who don't like her have praised it, but she really does think that twitter is all about her. When they have a 'report abuse' button, can we have a 'report bore' button too? Her twitter silence lasted exactly 2 minutes. I imagine she's probably crawling the walls by now - or skyping Suzanne Moore. Twitter isn't responsible for abuse - people are. I'm amazed an intelligent woman like Mary Beard takes silly boys making bomb threats seriously and wastes the police's time with them. The real enemies are wankers like AA Gill who start the whole think in the first place.

As an aside - I watched Mary Beard's program about Caligula last night. She's engaging, warm and obviously very committed, and for the record - I think she's quite an attractive woman with much better teeth than mine - but it all seemed very speculative - 'it's said that' 'there are no contemporary accounts but...' ' 'the story goes..' - very fact light, really annoying. Clearly aimed for a TV audience but one that isn't expected to be too bright.

Part 3

More on the internet. There is a blog that I once made the mistake of following and cannot find the mechanism to 'unfollow' - it's the blog of a poet who - to be fair, has worked very hard over the last few years to make contemporary poetry in the UK popular, runs a press and events and showcases a lot of work. The problem is, he's very pompus and self assured - and, I'm sorry  - but it's true - he's a terrible poet. He's recently been involved in an astonishing incident when several members of the boy band 'The Wanted' ( look them up - I had to ) poured champagne out of a hotel window and he got a bit wet. The fuss he's making is hysterical - I still have a creeping suspicion is all a big joke. It's been reported to the police and has even made it's way into The Sun. You can read about it all here - but try and avoid the poems (unless you like that sort of thing. Each to their own)

Part 4
More internet stuff. This probably explains my 'spike' last night. I said something a few posts ago about Aiden Moffat getting into a strop in his local Waterstone's because he was trying to buy something near the end of the day. I then had a comment from someone who actually works in the store - they have a blog themselves and you can read their perspective here.

They seem like a perfectly nice and intelligent person. It's a good post and quite comprehensive - if they read this blog (I don't think they do) they would know how I feel about retail - from both the perspective of someone who uses shops (and has worked in them) - and as someone who actually designs them. I despise out of town retail space. It destroys communities, gives too much power to the head office tossers to make bad decisions, cloggs up our roads and damages the way we structure our lives. I said on here quite recently that another reason I despise them is because of the way they make their staff live a life of modern slavery - low wage earners are probably not car owners and are forced to use expensive and inadequate public transport, they are trapped in fortresses of commerce all day - under artificial lights, eating from the overpriced food outlets, bullied by management and shoppers - once the British Public get into these places they turn into idiots - Dawn of the Dead is more prophetic every time I see it - and their lives are generally quite crap. The problem we have in the UK is that we still have this hangover from the class system that means we treat anyone in 'service' as a 2nd class Citizen. It works both ways, shoppers need to be much nicer - and so do shop staff. I've had some phenomenally bad experiences in shops  (and I make a point of being as decent as possible), but I've also had some very good ones, they are the ones I go back to. I've also said before that the large retail group I worked in was held hostage by the store managers because they felt that the quality of applicant was generally so poor - they had to keep the ones they had - who were, frankly - crap, but knew exactly how far they could go before they were marched out by security. It's interesting that this is about Waterstones, my local store is going through a bit of a trough at the moment - big reductions in stock range, far fewer books instore, all resources aimed at the Costa outlet, they don't even sell magazines now. The staff are surly and distant, don't make eye contact, and have an air of tired resignation. Maybe they have good reason - I don't know, but it's driven me back to Amazon.

Part 5
Leading on from the last bit - there is a shopping centre in the middle of Hastings - one section used to house Evans, Dorothy Perkins and Burton - all owned by the same group - and all closed down at the same time a few weeks ago - guess what the centre owners have done. Rather than try and rent the space out - they have built a huge curtain wall in front of them. That's right, bricked them up, no trace that there was ever anything there . You couldn't make it up.

In other news - this is probably the last time I'll be able to type a post without wearing glasses, it's been much harder than I expected. I'm clearly falling apart.


Steerforth said...

I completely agree with your comments about retail. My staff were paid to work from 9.00 to 5.30, which is also when the shop opened and closed. They were expected to arrive at least ten minutes before opening and not leave until the last customer had gone and the till drawers were taken to the office, so they did well over an hour of unpaid work every week. I used to turn a blind eye when people took longer breaks and make sure that the ones with trains to catch got away in time, but I've have preferred a fair pay for a proper day's work.

Nina said...

That certainly was a well-thought-out response (and explains my blog views, I did wonder!). Cheers for taking the time to do that. I certainly agree with you about shoppers and staff, manners cost nothing, and I'm sorry you had a bad time in your local branch. It's not an easy time to be in bookselling, but that should be reason to make the effort to encourage shoppers, not drive them to the competition through surliness.
In spite of you using the Dread Amazon (for understandable reasons), it's good to know there are some people on the side of the staff, and that sometimes the management are too (thanks, Steerforth).

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