Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shocking Lives and Ordinary Life

Recent newspaper reports and practical experiences led to this blog post's title.

Many though not all, of  the hard copy national  newspapers in the UK at present seem to be coming of better and better quality  (both left and right wing papers) but probably for the same reasons some of their news reporting, particularly on the foreign news pages, is so dire that the feelings they often engender are those  of sorrow at the grotesqueness of actions by man upon man. For example the reports yesterday and today of Syrian fighters apparently  targeting pregnant women that is by shooting them aiming for their unborn babies are truly hideous shocking and dreadful. Mrs maytrees could hardly bear to listen to my reading to her an extract about this from today's Indy.

Other newspaper reports raise issues which thankfully are not grotesque but are still  difficult to fathom other than to conclude that in cases of doubt, the rights of the individual should be respected. For example the report, also in today's Indy, reading:

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is being sued in a case funded by the Kenyan government after she criminalised a herbal stimulant using by thousands of Africans living in Britain.

Earlier this year the Home Office announced a ban on the import, sale and possession of khat (Catha edulis) – a leaf widely chewed or made into tea across Africa and the Middle East...
The article suggests that some users of this herb become depressed but that many of Kenyan extraction living in the UK use it. Apparently the banning of its use was not recommended by the UK drugs regulator and reading between the lines, the banning arose simply or mainly because other countries in Europe have introduced bans. The Kenyan government is funding appeals in the English courts because of the huge harm likely to be caused to local Kenyan farmers who grow khat for export - I think worth to them c. £15m annually. I doubt that I'll ever want to take khat but really banning  Africans in England from doing so when the drugs regulator does not express serious concern about its health effects, seems to me to be unfair so I hope that  the JR proceedings are successful.

So on to an ordinary life issue, comprising happenings of less import like buying some fruit and vegetables etc. in our local Sainsbury's supermarket this morning:

Having a pocket full of coins and spying a self checkout with a notice reading "cash only", I started the process of checking out the purchases. All went well until I started feeding in the coins most of  which the machine then began to spit out  nor would it accept the various points and 'money off' vouchers  I attempted to feed in.

I can imagine if I was an assistant at Sainsbury's early on a Saturday morning (I was once as a holiday job about 40 years ago) a customer raising such problems would make me a little grumpy. But no - 2 assistants quickly came over. One went off  change my coins into notes (which the machine then easily accepted  and the other went over to the manager  to ensure that my various vouchers were accepted on their main computer. They were both happy looking, made jokes,  apologised and  seemed quite unfazed;  the shopping process easily then completed.  A trivial enough incident but changed my mood from slightly weary to upbeat for the day.

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