Monthly Archives:

June 2021


SWB asks to Speak to the Manager

Miss Ranty Pants is back, fuelled by a jaunt into town Saturday. Now, in good old MumsNet style, I’m going to begin by asking AIBU? (‘Am I being Unreasonable,’ for the uninitiated.)

Picture the scene: I am in JUBILANT humour. I have met a friend from long time hence in Avoca and we have eaten scones the size of our heads and drunk lattes and chatted about ‘all the important things.’ I met Leeann in the queue when I went for my first Covid vax and we decided to have a coffee before our second. Isn’t serendipity a marvellous thing?

We were in and out of the SSE Arena under 20 minutes (it’s expedience personified down there) and so, gifted with this pocket of free time I gave LSB a ring.  ‘Away into ‘House of Fraser’ and buy yourself something nice,’ said he. Say what you like about my husband, but he’s not a bad auld spud.

Now, you know me by now. I champion the small businesses, the organic certified cotton, the second-hand boutiques. But the mischief was in, and I thought, feck it, I will treat myself, and stop being so sanctimonious. And, the delight indeed, when whizzing up on the escalator to the third floor, I spotted ‘Sale’ signs: festooned on walls; a-dangling from ceilings; perched atop individual rails. It was to such rails that I gravitated, because I do love a bargain. And then, didn’t I spy some silken loveliness in bright spangly colours. Four items I took into the changing room and after much deliberation, and some lamentation about the absolute STATE of my upper arms, I selected a green silk sarong and matching camisole with a fetching, (and some might say tropical) pineapple print. I also lifted another wrap top to cover the aforementioned arms.

And then, the guilt hit me. Pricey they were, and I couldn’t see anything on their labels about sustainability or eco-friendly credentials. I thought that maybe I should just go home, and ‘shop my wardrobe.’ I dithered. Then, who did I spy but a teacher from the school I was last working in. I explained my dilemma, to which she replied, ‘BUY THE OUFIT FOR GOD’S SAKE.’ She’s the kind of woman to whom one listens, so off I went to the cash desk.

And this, readers, is where it takes a very sad turn. Nothing was reduced: not a jot. Despite the sign atop the rail, it did not apply to any of the items I had lifted. The girl was very apologetic. Affronted, I left them there, and then took a dander back over to the rail. Nothing had any mention of money off at all, despite the signs indicating that they were on offer. And so, unable to contain myself, I became that person, and I asked to speak to the manager. Over she duly came, (we’ll call her Sue) and God love her, Sue looked like she could do with a nice coffee and a sit down. I explained the situation which I described as not only misleading, but duplicitous. I suggested that this was why the store was usually empty and why the High Street was in a state of chassis. (Not this Saturday. This Saturday it packed, which didn’t lend my argument much credence.) Sue revealed that the precise wording of the offer was ‘Up to 20% and only on selected lines.’ I retorted that I was a busy woman, and I hadn’t got the time to be prancing about, trying on ‘sale’ outfits which weren’t on sale at all. I may have used the phrase ‘false advertising.’

Phew, I’m done now. Needless to say, the outfits remained in the shop and I came home and found a dress I bought in Valencia in a small boutique two Easters ago. I think it cost forty euro. I thought it was very pretty, (but not so much in the picture below where I look like I should be presenting Songs of Praise from a National Trust venue.)

To return to the start of this rant, AM I BEING UNREASONABLE? Ever so irked I was. Do let me know your thoughts on the matter, and whether, after my experience, you are likely to be frequenting the store.


SWB feels middle aged

This is the most middle-class, middle-aged stuff I’ve ever read!’ raged a malcontent a few weeks ago when she took umbrage at my rant about cooking the dinner. Well yes, she may have had a point: I think we’re all agreed by now, that I’m more middle class than a one-shot latte in Kaffe O. Middle aged though? That stung a bit, I must say: I’m only 42, FFS. Sometimes, I still feel like a youngster; a fact to which LSB will testify, especially when it comes to renewing the car tax.

But a few times recently, I must confess that I have tragically felt very middle-aged. I blame Radio Two, and Claudia Winkleman in particular. The other day I was nipping down to the shops to pick up a few bits in M&S for the lunch. And there was Claudia, waxing lyrical about a tip Sally Traffic had shared the previous week about putting on a duvet cover. Tragically, she didn’t elaborate on it, and I still haven’t got around to searching for the feature on BBC Sounds. I struggle with a duvet cover, despite people saying: ‘Ooh, just turn it inside out!’

I still end up making a Horlicks of the whole thing and end up trapped inside, like Casper the Friendly Ghost’s deranged sibling. The duvet tip though, sparked a whole rake of people ringing in with ‘top tips’, or, as they’re known now apparently, ‘life hacks.’  All you cool young things will know, but I’m late to the party because I’m still stuck inside the fucking duvet cover.

Anyway, this woman was ringing in with the BEST, EVER vacuuming tip and a younger SWB would just have turned off the engine immediately and headed on into the shop. But wait to hear what 42-year-old SWB did. She only sat in the car and delayed going in to get her edamame salad and salmon nigiri, to hear the Henry the Hoover tip. Apparently, according to woman, (who had stayed up late from her home in Melbourne to ring in); we all hoover as though we are infants who are new to ‘colouring in’ and do a quick squiggle in the centre of the picture. We take the same approach to hoovering, thus targeting a mere fraction of the carpet. What you have to do, according to our Australian whizz kid, is head over to the outer edge of the room, and vacuum in a straight direction, then veer left and right, thus covering a thorough area in a few deft movements. (Seriously like, I don’t believe I’m regurgitating this for your edification.) This method is known as the ‘shark’s tooth technique’, and is very effective. Many more people rang in to agree. I am unlikely to adopt said technique though as it would involve me tidying the room first and lifting all the shite, instead of just flinging the hoover around willy-nilly and congratulating myself at even managing t do that. Since I only do this once every few months, I’m unlikely to have any pointy shark teeth on my carpet any time soon.

But the fact remains- I listened, and worse still,  I found it interesting. I WANTED TO HEAR MORE. Now, if any of you have discovered that you have overnight hit ‘peak middle-age,’ I would appreciate you sharing your findings. Now, I’m away to iron some t-shirts and pair some socks while my husband watches The Euros. May just have a cup of the aforementioned Horlicks before bed too.


SWB feels the love

You know my big middle-class moan about cooking the dinner? Well, it was the absolute BESTEST thing ever because since, I’ve been inundated with kindly folk sending me recipes, tips, and even FOOD. Oh yes, how my heart leapt when a friend left a tub of fresh tagliatelle with asparagus and lardons on my windowsill. It was generously doused in olive oil and black pepper and there wasn’t A WORD out of me the following lunchtime as I shoved it in my face.

‘I can see you’re enjoying that,’ said LSB, struggling to keep his ham baguette down as I shovelled it in, mouthful after glorious mouthful. My pal Stephen found the recipe on the back of a pasta packet and I can enquire further and share it, if you wish.

In the spirit of magnanimity, when it comes to food sharing, I sent another neighbour a portion of ‘Campfire Stew,’ a recipe a uni-friend sent me with the guarantee ‘your kids will LOVE it.’

Did they love it? No. Did they even like it? No. Did they at least eat it in an effort to please? I’ll let you answer that. LSB picked at it, miserably. ‘Are there baked beans in this?’ he asked.

I nodded.  ‘I thought the other ingredients might disguise the taste,’ I said, a tone of desperation creeping in. He picked out the meat, but said he could still detect, and I quote, ‘more than a hint of synthetic tomato sauce and an unpleasant orange-ness.’

‘That what you get for marrying a Protestant,’ I snarled.

So, I ate it for dinner, for the following lunch and then for dinner again. I grated cheese on top and served it with rice vermicelli and it was hearty and fabulous. But then my innards took umbrage at all the beans, which is why I sent it down the road.  My pal said it perked up her lunchtime no end.

We also did, and I recommend it heartily, a dumpling making course with The Edible Flower. I’ll be honest with you- my dough bore little resemblance to theirs, but it was worth it alone just to get cracking with loads of garlic and ginger and fresh coriander. I have missed FLAVOUR, I thought to myself, as I fried up mushrooms with scallions in butter. I made two different fillings, a meat and a veggie one, both of which left enough for me to cook up for lunch the next day. The wee ones actually ate the meat, so that was a bonus too.

Then another friend, (and I will stop after this, I promise,) but said she was tired eating on her own at lunch and invited me to hers. We sat in her sun filed kitchen and she handed me a bowl with a lentil, feta, sundried tomato and mint salad. That was it, four ingredients and it was a revelation. Really, I ought to have taken a picture, but I was far too busy eating.

It all made me think though- food is such an absolutely joyous thing and yet it ends up, for women anyway, a source of constant frustration. When I go to the supermarket, I feel shackled by what everyone else refuses to eat, and with a world-weary sigh I go back to the old staples. But every so often, a wee invite or a tub left at your front door, it’s enough to boost the spirit again no end.  And of course, restaurants are open again, so HURRAH.