I recently had a text conversation with my sister that has led to this month’s Outsidethesquare activity:
#92 Write a short story—in Messages
The words of Clive James’ moving poem to his father—My Father Before Me—woke me this morning. As the radio tribute’s final words were spoken, “My life is yours; my curse to be so blessed’, I thought of my own father on this Anzac Day.
#88 Pay Tribute to a Special ANZAC
and, to compound his bad luck, was on duty in Cowra on 5 August 1944 when over 1100 Japanese prisoners-of-war attempted to escape.
That day is described as ‘the largest prison escape of World War II as well as one of the bloodiest’. It was only when he was dying that my sister and I learned it was an event that had stayed with him forever.
Jack lived till he was 89 years old, but he never celebrated Anzac Day. In fact, he positively disliked it, so my sister and I have a rather different view of it to the rest of Australia.
He wrote to my mother from Cowra, the month before the outbreak, speaking of movements in the camp: “Most of my friends are gone, or else going within the next few days. Gosh … you have no idea how attached we can become to each other, it hurts saying goodbye knowing that we will probably never meet again. That is the only redeeming feature of the army – its remarkable, firm comradeship among men who have been in it for a fair while. They will do anything for each other.”
In a letter he sent to his father-in-law dated 6 September 1945, which we found after he died, he wrote: “Much has happened in the past few weeks, the war is over and we have been told we are the victors. Perhaps we are, I don’t know. Personally, when millions of men are killed, cities of culture razed to the ground and nations ruined economically, I don’t consider anyone to be the victors. Still, if peace can be maintained for the next century or so, this war will have achieved something.”
Unlike Clive James’ father, Dad was fortunate enough to return home safely, where he settled down and worked hard for his family in his own small business all his life.
They say, Lest We Forget.
It’s a shame that procrastination is so much easier than action.
Imagine how much you could achieve in life if instead of thinking about it, meaning to do it one day, or planning to get around to it in the very near future, you actually … just … DID it?
With that in mind, my friends in Discovery group and I recently decided to complete some of those nagging little jobs we’d been putting off for ages and report back on our achievements.
I found it so empowering that I’ve decided to keep it going and set aside the first week of every month to …
#82 Just DO it!
— even if it’s no more than completing one small job each day.
Apparently this rewards us in several ways. According to psychologists, tasks we haven’t done distract us, but the mere act of making a plan to get them done frees us from this anxiety.
Completing them then gives us small bursts of dopamine, generating feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Bigger tasks can be broken down into so called Micro-tasks and as each one is finalised, it spurs us on to continue.
During our Discovery experiment, one of our members finally compiled an album of photos using Snapfish that she’s been meaning to do—since her 2014 trip to Italy. Now, she’s enthused about doing all the other albums waiting.
Another friend has a neat-as-a-pin office at home which, from the pictures she showed us, looks nothing like it used to look, whilst a third friend weeded her husband’s overgrown vegetable bed AND planted tomatoes for him!
Buoyed by this quick and easy success, I sorted through my earrings to locate the ones needing minor repairs:
All it took was one drop of Superglue© to the backs of each detached piece:
Two pairs of earrings as good as new.
Not everything works to plan. One of our members was determined to bake a light, fluffy sponge which she’d never managed to achieve before. Although we didn’t get to taste the result, the report she presented on the day, reminiscent of a Maggie Beer presentation, would easily score 10 in any cooking show. It was replete with photographs of the recipes she’d consulted, pictures of all the ingredients used, shots of each painstaking moment of adding, folding, beating. It even included images of the sponge through the glass doors of the oven. Masterful!
She was disappointed that the end result was more like a dense cake than the light and fluffy concoction she’d been aiming for, but the most teethgrinding moment for her was when her husband—who’d never baked a thing in his entire life—tasted it and suggested perhaps she should have separated the yolks and the whites.*
It’s true that each completed task encourages you to do more.
I came across a letter in an old storage box a few months ago that had been sent to me in 1985 by someone who was beginning to think at the time that I may have been the one for him.
He’d been hang-gliding for a week up Newcastle way, and the letter was full of the exhilaration of his exploits and a humorous tale of how he’d landed —unexpectedly—almost on top of a young women lying on the beach.
Well, Reader, he married her!
So I felt this letter belonged in his family archives, rather than mine, and after a Google search for his work address, (I’d not seen or heard from him in 34 years) I returned the keepsake, with slight trepidation.
He responded very quickly, saying he was thrilled to receive it, planned to show his children the story of the exact moment he met their mother, and finished the letter with an invitation to meet for coffee in a few weeks as he was returning to the district for a weekend …
Now in the grip of reconnecting with times past, I decided it was time to dig out the 8mm films my grandfather had taken of the family back in 1962. Walking past the local camera store these past umpteen years, I’d seen their signs saying they could convert old 8mm film to a DVD, and had always thought, ‘One day, I must …’.
Misty-eyed viewing, if truth be told
There’s a lot to be said for Just doing it.
It was my misfortune recently to be the victim of a crime. This means that I’ve had dealings with our justice system up close and personal, and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight.
It all began when the tax agent who’s looked after my Super Fund for the last ten years suddenly went rogue and stole my tax refund. He was able to do this by virtue of him being my tax agent in the first place, because the position gives him entry to my tax portal at the ATO.
This, I’ve now learned, is like giving him my front door key and mentioning that I’d be away for the long weekend and that a very valuable package was about to be delivered.
So several thousands of my hard-earned dollars — dollars that the ATO was supposed to refund to my account — were shifted into his account instead.
Getting justice has proven to be quite difficult, so I seem to have been left with only two options. Either go mad and turn into yet another old person yelling at clouds, or
I feel your pain, Grandpa Simpson
#78 Rate the Justice System
And thanks to the great example set by Miles Barlow, there’s a precedent for scoring life’s experiences as one would review a restaurant or film. So here are my star ratings for the whole sorry saga.
1. The Criminal (hereinafter known as X)
Despite my repeated phone calls and emails to X, he has proven resistant to repaying the stolen funds. In fact, he went so far as to suggest that he had been unable to look at my problem “due to health reasons” before adding that “the only thing I can think is that another client … [with a name identical to yours] … owed us money and had agreed to us receiving her refund.”
Really, X? That’s the only thing you can think?
Verdict: ***** No stars
2. The Lawyers
The lawyers sprang into action for me. They were outraged! The man was a criminal who had committed fraud and irrespective of his company’s ability to pay, he had stolen this money and was therefore personally liable. A very stiff letter, outlining sections and subsections of the Corporations Act was sent demanding X return my money … or else. The lawyers even had the chutzpah to add “your assertion that these changes were intended to apply to another of your clients named …[exactly the same name as our client] … is, frankly, absurd.”
…it was pointed out to me that trusting anyone who’d
wear a lime green tie might have been my first mistake.
It turned out X owed over a million dollars and had assets of about $15,000. So my lawyers reluctantly, but kindly, suggested that any further action on my part might be throwing good money after bad. I had to agree with them.
Verdict: ***** Four stars. (At least they tried)
3. The Police
If you can avoid living on the border between two states, I’d urge you to take that option. I live in New South Wales. X ran his business across the Murray River in Victoria. My experience with the police has thus far entailed both me and my statement bouncing from one side of the river to the other for several weeks as they decide which jurisdiction should handle it and whether to call it fraud (NSW) or theft (Vic).
My statement’s currently down a rabbit hole somewhere in Victoria, but they’ve assured me they’ll ring me back the minute they find it. Very, very soon, or possibly even earlier.
Verdict: ***** Two stars.
(They are trying. In more ways than one)
4. The Liquidator
So then I rang the liquidator and spoke to his offsider, a youthful sounding lawyer by the name of Will. Such a perfect name for someone who comes in at the death of a business.
Will didn’t say it in so many words, but after he’d explained that I was at the back of a long line of creditors, with the Tax Office at the front of the queue, I gathered that the likelihood of ever seeing my stolen money was even more remote than my chance of visiting Antarctica soon.
Verdict: ***** Three stars. (It’s not his fault
that the cupboard is bare).
5. The ATO
It seemed a reasonable idea to lodge a complaint to the tax ombudsman. After all, the ATO knew X’s business was heavily in debt to them as they were the ones who wound it up, so why would they meekly pay my tax return to him without checking with me first?
Nope. Not our fault, they said. It was ASIC who had the strike-off action against his business, not us. We just entered the game at the end. So move along, please, nothing to see here.
Verdict : ***** One star. (I bet it’d be my fault
if the roles were reversed)
6. The Regulator
Make sure you report X to the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), everyone from the lawyers to the police, the ATO to the liquidator, exhorted me. The TPB won’t stand for this behaviour. They’ll come down on this miscreant like a ton of bricks.
So I lodged a complaint with the TPB, was heartened when the case officer took a keen interest in my complaint, elated that she understood all the points I made, relieved when she said the Board took these issues very seriously.
Then I received this letter from the Board:
No further action after one of their own stole money from his client? Ton of bricks indeed! More like a piddling pile of Lego.
Verdict: ****** Minus one star. (The extra deduction’s for using
the term ‘incorrectly’ instead of ‘feloniously’)
Quite frankly, I’m a bit disappointed. For years I’ve watched the opening credits of the TV show Law and Order tell me that in the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. And their stories are always resolved in an hour.
Sadly, this awful episode, which just drags on and on, has been my story.
Verdict: ***** One star
Imagine being in a job where you’re rarely praised, often the target of harsh complaints and dismissively known as the Rates, Roads and Rubbish people.
Such is the lot of local councils, but in reality, they’re so much more than that. The council can help make it a real pleasure to live in your town or city.
At our most recent Discovery Group meeting, a local artist, Ken Raff was invited to speak to our members about the public art works he’s been commissioned to create for the Albury-Wodonga area. Since hearing him speak, it’s caused me to stop, look around and …
# Admire Public Art
Ken spoke about the evolution of a public sculpture, and it was the first time I’d realised that our council has people assigned to this very process. Impressive!
Extensive work is involved in the development of such pieces, involving the tender process, the artist chosen, site evaluations, various council departments as well as engineering and fabrication experts and businesses. And through all of this, the artist has to hope that the vision of his work will be maintained.
Here’s one of Ken’s wonderful creations, where it all came together so well.
Called Porta, this installation is sited at the entrance to Victoria from NSW
The choice of colours and even the tilt of the spheres have been meticulously considered by the creator.
This also shows the importance of ‘place’ in public art. In the wrong spot, it might have been lost, but here – simply magnificent!
Degrees of Separation (Crossing Paths)
and on to the imposing galvanised steel artwork called Grow by Warren Langley, representing the crimson spider orchid, an endangered flower found in Albury, but few other locations …
… so perfectly suited to this position.
Public art can also encompass improving some of the plainer aspects of modern living, like applying mural art to otherwise dull areas such as drains and NBN boxes –
It’s exciting to come across the art in your local neighbourhood. I know there are several more pieces for me to discover.
During this adventure, I stumbled across a copy of Banksy’s Rage – local artist unknown – stencilled under a bridge on the New South Wales side of the Murray River.
It’s positioned to look like the person is about to lob a hand grenade – into Victoria!
Fortunately, the missile is a bunch of brightly coloured flowers.
Photo of the Tai Chi Bunnies taken at Circular Quay, Sydney in January at the Chinese New Year celebrations. I’m told they glow at night!
It is the unalienable right of retired people to spend their days tut-tutting about the state of the world and remonstrating about the general drop in standards to anyone within earshot. Or, in the alternative, to pen outraged letters to the editor about the shocking loss of civility in current times.
Being loath to miss out on this activity, and noticing how many bizarre signs abound, signs that would never have been seen in my youth (like the above advertisement where a beautiful face was deliberately graffitied to sell a product!) I thought it worthwhile turning into a fussy old pedant myself, and using this blog as my pulpit:
#72 Discover Odd Signs
Is it my imagination or are there more egregious misprints nowadays?
Presumably to somewhere further away?
Verison sounds so much like a word one might find in the Macquarie dictionary, that I’ve decided to start using it to mean a misleading statement about faith.
Schools, above all others, should take care with spelling. One can only feel sympathy for young ‘Sohpie’, having her moment of glory spoiled like this.
I wonder if the two Sophies fought over whose name was the misspelled one? Or is it possible that somewhere, some 16 or 17 years ago, a father and mother decided to call their daughter Sohpie because no-one else in the class would spell it that way? (Speaking of which, is Aby really a name?)
Especially satisfying are those misspellings that throw up an incorrect, but real word that completely changes the meaning.The anti-abortion group mentioned are actually called ‘The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants’ but as legislation now prevents them standing directly outside clinics invading the medical privacy of the patients attending, maybe the misprint ‘previous’ is perfectly apt.
Bad grammar can throw up some disturbing visual images:
Really? The bullets were singing Amazing Grace? Now that is amazing.
Poor juxtaposition of discrete articles can lead to unintended outcomes. I suspect someone’s head may have rolled when the bosses discovered this posted on an ABC news site. It was only up for about 10 minutes:
But the signs that really make me hot under the collar are the ones that lie.
A shop that cared so much about their ‘beloved Balmain doggies’ that they didn’t even bother putting out any water!
Then there was the hoarding for Clive Palmer’s party, erected recently at the end of my street.
We’re supposed to believe that this man cares about farmers?
But before I had a chance to slip out on a moonless night with my hoodie and black paint and fix it in real time, someone else’s anger had spilled over and this was the result:
It wasn’t me, I swear!
…taken at Tabletop by my Bunnings buddy
Anything less is, quite frankly, misleading advertising and I’ll be writing a stiff letter to the editor about it.
Enid Blyton must take some responsibility.
The idea that you can spend years entertaining children with exciting tales about other children solving mysteries (The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Five Find-Outers & Dog) without it having repercussions in their later life is fanciful. Without a doubt, it’s the reason I’ve always had a deep seated urge to solve mysteries. And this need continues well into retirement.
#63 Investigate a Mystery
It began back in mid January when my sister bought me a birthday present online to be sent directly to my post office box. But when my birthday came and went and I hadn’t thanked her, she realised the item had gone missing, and so began the investigation initially known as The Mystery of the Missing Parcel.
No problems. A copy of the original Australia Post receipt, showing its tracking number, should set things right:
A trip to the post office will sort this out, we thought naively. The gift will be there, sitting on a bench waiting to be collected. It did seem odd, though, that they hadn’t placed a ‘parcel awaiting collection’ card into my PO Box.
‘No,’ they told me. ‘We don’t have the item here. It’s already been picked up.’
Not by me it hasn’t. Who signed for it?
They shrugged. No one has to sign to pick up parcels any more nor show any ID. Even when the parcel’s been registered and the sender took out extra insurance. Naturally, I made a fuss. It was my birthday present after all. They finally offered to look at the CCTV footage taken of the Post Office collection hatch at the exact time the parcel had been collected – ‘11.28am Mon 22 Jan’ – to see who’d picked it up.
And this is where the story takes a darker turn. An unidentified man was seen on CCTV taking possession of an identical box to the one I was awaiting at exactly that time. This was no longer a simple mystery, this had turned into a crime.
The birthday present, it turned out, was a box housing four bottles of Vino Cotto, an elixir so delicious that, well, it just had to be found or someone would have to pay. My sister had recently discovered that this little gem was being made to the original Italian recipe right here in Australia.
Its literal translation is ‘cooked wine’ but it’s so much more than that. Making vino cotto involves the long, slow reduction of grape ‘must’, the juice of a particular variety of grape, with the addition of ash from the burnt grape vine. The resulting rich, exotic syrup is then stored for months before being brought out for special occasions.
When I was a child, my grandmother would slave over its production so that every Easter it could be retrieved from storage and served drizzled over Crostoli as the entire family – parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, scrambled for the last drop of this liquid gold. Making it was so laborious, so complicated that we all knew we’d not see it again for another year.
That did it. No strange man was going to get away with my birthday bottles of vino cotto, so I swung into investigative mode and set up my white board.
I’ve concluded my investigations now and have decided the most likely sequence of events is as follows:
The Post Office hasn’t taken kindly to my suggestion that they place a WANTED poster sporting the unidentified man’s image on every billboard around town, so I have little hope of discovering his identity.
But a couple of things cheer me up. Australia Post has finally refunded us for the value of the goods so I’m expecting more bottles of vino cotto to arrive any day now.
And best of all, unidentified man wouldn’t have had a flood of lovely childhood memories as he indulged in my vino cotto and I trust he was bitterly disappointed to discover that, despite being utterly delicious and addictive, it contains no alcohol whatsoever.
My culprit may remain elusive, but three bottles of vino cotto PLUS a jar of marinated wild baby figs in vino cotto arrived at my door (thank you to Angela from Il Baronello) in time for Easter. Just drizzle over fresh Crostoli.
It was Socrates who held that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’, so as the fifth anniversary of my first blog entry approaches, it seems an opportune time to dip into the archives and ask a few questions about some of the #53 adventures undertaken so far.
What’s worked, what hasn’t … and will the blog make it to #101?
So without wanting to sound too pretentious, here’s the latest activity:
#54 Hold a Blog ‘Retrospective’
Ah, the first blog post.
I remember it well.
A cold winter’s day back in 2012. Water in the bird bath had frozen and frost was still crunching underfoot as I…
Here’s the real review:
#1 Blog was titled ‘Start a Blog’.
How was I to know that within a couple of years, blogging and bloggers would become as obsolete as – well – Betamax video recorders? And almost as outdated as books. All victims of the relentless progression of technology like live streaming, Facebook, Instagram and their electronic offshoots.
A book about a blog? Sad.
But cursed with the trait of being a completer, I’ve persevered with this blog in the knowledge that at least it’s forcing me to undertake adventures I might otherwise have missed.
(Which probably answers the question ‘will the blog make it to #101?’)
#2 Blog ‘Create a Home Cinema’ melded nicely with #16 Blog ‘Attend a Major Sporting Event’. If there’s one thing a BIG screen is good for, it’s showing sport up close and personal.
So this is the view you have from the stands when you attend a game:
Whereas this is the view when watching from home:
…simply add ‘Surround Sound’ to further enhance the atmosphere
Combine this with #18 Blog ‘Make New Friends’ and watching the Olympic games, or the Melbourne Cup, or an AFL Grand Final (or election night for that matter) with friends, old and new, in the snug comfort of your own cinema in front of a giant screen is just the best.
#3 Blog suggested trying to ‘Cook a New Recipe Weekly’.
Why, I asked myself upon realising that this challenge was turning into a total fail, would I not just let a professional chef do that for me?
So it seemed sensible to merge this one with #17 Blog ‘Indulge in Life’s Little Luxuries’ and schedule a weekly, scrumptious meal at a café or a restaurant, preferably one located somewhere gorgeous, sampling something new…
…like at LuMi beside Pyrmont Wharf
#6 Blog discussed the day I became ‘An Extra in a Film or Telemovie.’
No doubt about it, the thrill of knowing that I was the blurry, shadowy woman glimpsed for 0.03 seconds AND my tuft of hair was highlighted for 0.01 seconds in the background of the Australian Telemovie ‘Cliffy’ has carried me through for years.
So much so that I put my hand up again recently to play an extra in a locally shot film called ‘The BBQ’ starring Shane Jacobson and Magda Szubanski which may or may not be released near Christmas.
I figure that a 0.05 second fleeting shot of me wandering around the showgrounds will constitute a Personal Best (which fits in nicely with #41 Blog ‘Take up a Sport’. Sporty people are always talking about PBs).
Alas, they wouldn’t allow us to photograph the actors or even the set, but as the day of the shoot was a real stinker, my aspiring thespian friend and I were given plastic cups half full of Kool-Aid to enjoy as a thank you for our services. Using a smuggled camera, we managed to take a blurry photograph of them. (As the drinks were lowly extras like us, they didn’t deserve to be in focus either…)
#10 Blog was a call to ‘Keep Backyard Chickens’.
I may have taken this one a bit too seriously, as I’m morphing dangerously close to becoming a chicken fanatic.
But oh, the photo opportunities…
Dixie and her darling chicks
#21 Blog suggested it would be great to ‘Rediscover the Elegance of Fountain Pens’.
In reality, this turned into a coded blog to loved ones called ‘Guess what Someone would Love for her Next Big Birthday’ because here’s what arrived gift wrapped the following January:
AND with a gold nib. Most successful post EVER!
#35 Blog ‘Unearth Buried Archeological Skills’ together with #46 ‘Learn How to Nest’ touched on the topic of volunteering.
I learned a lot from these activities, resulting in the odd coins and bits of glass and small chips of crockery found buried in my own back garden becoming a source of great excitement. And it’s resulted in the creation of a new display of these little treasures outside:
But mostly I learned that having to turn up anywhere regularly is awfully like work.
So maybe I’ll take up volunteering seriously when I’m tired of retirement…
If there’s one thing Socrates has taught me though, it’s that only good things can come from a blog examined.
After spending quite a bit of time laboriously reopening and reviewing all 53 previous posts on my outsidethesquare101 website during this journey of self discovery, I received an unexpected message from WordPress, the host site of the blog, telling me just how successful my site is becoming.
And if WordPress doesn’t guess who’s been viewing it so much and thinks outsidethesquare101 is a booming blog, that’s good enough for me.
[With special thanks to LR for traipsing to the outskirts of Balmain to photograph the ‘Memory Lane’ street sign for me]
Who doesn’t have fond memories of the Rosella logo on the ubiquitous bottle of tomato sauce that was a staple of growing up in Australia?
It was the only brand my mother ever entertained using. In her case, it was for the taste: in mine, for the gorgeous crimson Rosella on the front.
So since childhood, I’ve cherished my tiny, brightly-coloured enamel rosella pin which the company used as a promotion back in the day when children didn’t expect their favourite toys to be endlessly interactive or need batteries or gigabytes to function properly.
And what a marketing ploy. More than fifty years on
and I still balk at using any other brand!
But imagine if these pretty birds could be enticed to come into your garden every day. There’s a challenge:
#53 Encourage Native Birds into the Garden
Sorry, starling, but I don’t mean you…
One brief glimpse was not enough though. I wanted him to visit regularly, and I figured that the best way to do this was with food.
Mind you, an article published in The Conversation last Spring suggests that the jury is still out on the virtues or otherwise of feeding and watering wild birds. Do they become dependent on our largesse, resented in the bird-working world as seed-bludgers, expecting handouts on a platter? And does the bird population implode due to a lack of resilience should you go away leaving them with no food and water for a time?
Notwithstanding this debate, I raced out to my favourite hardware store and purchased a small bird feeder, filled it with wild bird seed and placed it close to the backyard bird bath. There was a lot of fluttering around it, but no takers. Was it because the treats weren’t being served on a platter for easy access?
No worries. There’s a waterproof material that can be cut to shape, spray painted and rimmed with clear plastic tubing to keep the seeds from falling off. Good old corflute.
Enter bird feeder Mark II and a lot of interested birds, first watching and hovering…
…before landing and enjoying:
It’s a magnet for sparrows, starlings and spotted doves who empty the feeder in no time.
Based on this early success, I bought a second feeder for the front garden this time, which is where I’d spotted the young beauty in the first place.
A kind friend made a real wooden base for it before I perched it on an upturned pot and waited for the flurry of activity and the return of my lovely rosella….
It’s been filled with wild bird seeds for over two weeks now, but not one taker. In fact, no interested party has gone so far as to land and inspect it.
What’s going on?
It is too wooden? The wrong colour? Too square? Not far enough off the ground? Does the fact that the seed is Homebrand® offend the birds’ sensibilities?
What must I do to entice you back, gorgeous Rosella?
I don’t want to sound needy, but I’ll do anything, buy anything, make any changes you desire.
But please come back.
A lot of trial and error, then just when you think you’ve struck gold, a flaw is found that’s significant enough to lead you to think, ‘No, you’re not the app for me.’ But the search can be fun, and you get to go on lots of app dates as you try and:
#50 Find the App of Your Dreams
I came to the app dating scene quite late. The truth is, in the early days, I didn’t understand what an app was for and why I’d need one, and I dreaded the thought of investing in something that turned out to be a dud. But when I discovered that heaps of apps are free, and that a pointless app or even a less than perfect one can be banished, no questions asked, by applying a little pressure to its logo before giving it the Flick! from your screen, I turned into a serial app dater. And unlike partner interactions, it’s okay to keep several of them on the go simultaneously, toying with them and using them only as long as they remain useful.
So here’s a run down of some that I’ve tested.
A young friend told me Instagram was essential, though I was reluctant to give it a try, due in part to attending a filmmaking course once where the teacher kept interrupting the session to say “I’ll just put this on my Instagram feed.” Already I’d judged it a tad narcissistic, endlessly gazing into the mirror with admiration and pride at its own reflection.
Then I came across this Instagram post about a breakfast prepared by a famous chef for his young daughter:
I LOVE breakfasts, but as John McEnroe might have said “You cannot be SERIOUS!”
How could I join in the Instagram game and keep a straight face? Time to Flick! this one.
So I moved onto
I’ve had this one for a while now, but to be honest, apart from being a mild diversion during times of boredom, I’m not sure that it does anything useful. Maybe I don’t understand it well enough, but I’m finding it a bit repetitive. How many times do I need to see a cute puppy? I’m tempted to give it the Flick! too, but then again, I’m a sucker for cute puppies…
Who hasn’t heard a piece of music they love and wanted to identify it? If so, Shazam may be the app for you, but be prepared for disappointment. Without doubt, it will let you down one day.
By the time you’ve opened the app, clicked on the start button and waited for it to ‘hear’ the music, it will tell you “we didn’t quite catch that. Please get closer to the sound and try again”, the music will have stopped and you’ve missed your chance. I call it the Sloth app. Too slow to be considered the dreamboat you’re after.
This is Choice’s clever little app that tells you, after you photograph the carton, if the eggs are truly free range. But as I can hear them being laid in my back garden, it’s not quite the one for me, though I’ve talked it up to my friends suggesting it may be a real keeper.
This app’s very impressive. Ever walked into a bottle shop and been overwhelmed with choice? Just photograph the wine’s label and receive instant feedback on its rating.
In my dreams….
They’ve added an even more impressive feature lately – listing the best wines available in a certain price range.
Bit worried spending too much time with this one might lead me down the path to alcoholism, though….
SNAP SEND SOLVE
Finally, an app that sits slap bang in my demographic. An app whose logo tells me EXACTLY what it does, so I don’t have to look at it and think “What’s this one for again?” But even better, one that has the word SOLVE in its name.
Have you seen something in your local area you’d like fixed? All you need to do with this app is snap a photo of the problem, send it to the relevant authority from the list it provides and sit back and wait for it to be solved. Probably too good to be true, I thought, but worth a try.
Crossing a small footbridge recently with the dog, I discovered loose, rotting boards underfoot crying out to be repaired before they gave way and injured someone.
THEY’D READ MY MIND AND FIXED THE BRIDGE ALREADY!!
This app was definitely looking too good to be true.
So shortly after this spooky event, the aforementioned dog was being walked in a dog-off-leash park adjacent to a fenced children’s playground when he found a space beneath the bars and shot inside. This wasn’t good. It took some coaxing for him to return…
Time to test the app for real, so I fired off the photos with this message:
I kid you not, three days later I received a call from council to explain that although fencing in children’s playgrounds is strictly controlled by a number of inflexible by-laws that prevents netting being added, they’d work on a solution.
The very next day, here’s what I found:
Try getting through that, Ziggy!
Of all the apps I’ve spent time with, this might just be THE ONE.