Tuesday 28 July 2009

eBay is no company for old sellers

I didn't do Latin at school, but I know that 'caveat emptor' means, 'let the buyer beware'. Is there a phrase for 'Let the seller beware' ?

I put something on eBay as a 'seller', for the first time last week. It was not a pleasant experience, but I am being philosophical by telling myself that 'you learn more when things go wrong, than when things go right'.

Initially, all was well. The bidding on my '1950's 'Midwinter' cake stand' in the 'blue domino pattern' and from the 'Jessie Tate' stable, went well. After a week the bidding closed at £32.00. I was pleased. Then things started to go wrong.

1. The,'apparently', female buyer, was paying by e-cheque and not Pay Pal. E- cheques take 8 - 10 days to clear.

2.Unbeknown to me, I must have been identified as a first time seller and as such was open to predators.

3. I was e mailed by 'service @ paypal.co.uk'.

Subject : Don't forget to claim you money from R.... H..... The e mail then asked me to provide my bank details in order to get the buyer's money.

4. Initially, I fell for this and began to type in the details, but when a direct debit instruction appeared, I smelt a rat.

5. Some research on Google revealed that this was the address of a well known phishing scam.

6. I deleted the email and sent a copy of the phishing spoof to Pay Pal fraud.

7. On my instruction eBay had sent the offer to the next in line bidder, who declined to put in the bid again. Why ?
On reflection, I began to wonder if this bidder had been working working with R.H. to give the impression that they were bidding against one another and so drive off the opposition, before I was set up for the sting.

8. I then received 2 more e mails from R.H. saying that 'she'd' seen the re listing 'was it too late ?' 'She'd' tried to sort things out. Remember,I still don't know and will never know if R.H. is a 'he' or a 'she'.

9. I replied that the deal was off, I had specified payment by Pay Pal and 'she' had tried an e-cheque. I told 'her' that I'd sent a copy of the phishing e-mail bearing her name to Pay Pal.

10. She 'indirectly' confirmed her complicity in the fraud, when she replied by saying that, I, as the receiver of her payment, had to reject the incoming cheque. 'She' did not refer to the fact that I had reported to Pay Pal fraud. A genuine seller would have said " Oh my God. What are these people doing using my name?"

11. I checked with Pay Pal and 'yes' I did have to cancel the 'apparent' transaction.

12. I have the option of reporting 'her' to eBay as a bad buyer. Her other 'apparent' buyers have given positive feedback, but these could be her fellow fraudsters. Either way, she now has my e-mail address and could therefor do me more and spiteful damage.

13. I do have the option of putting 'her' on in future transactions, as a buyer I don't want to do business with. I think I'll do that.

I reflect. How many people old and young are targeted by people like this and find they have their bank accounts emptied ?

What have I learnt?

E Bay is peopled by men and women who may, or may not, be the people they say they are and who may, or may not, do the things they say they will do and whose motives may, or may not, be honourable.

I will continue sell on eBay, a wiser and dare I say, older man.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Britain's Old Timers - you are not alone !

Born on this day :

76 years ago, Lance Percival the entertainer.

66 years ago, 'Rolling Stone' Sir Mick Jagger.

64 years ago, actress Dame Helen Mirren.

59 years ago, actress Susan George.


Some thoughts :

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucille Ball

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. - Jennifer Yane

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. - Robert Frost

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip!

"Grandma, is it exciting being 99?"
"It certainly is! If I wasn't 99 I'd be dead".

And the greatest birthday song of all time :

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Britain's Tescos - no company for complaints

The story I am about to tell happened to this old man, but it could have happened to anyone. It is about something very small - a box of Felix cat food sachets, costing £3.75 ,which tells us a lot about something very big - the Tescos Supermarket chain which made a profit of £3.13bn or £3,130,000,000 last year.

The tale began with an awful stench in our larder, where our noses led us to a punctured sachet of cat food, which was oozing a decomposed sludge of fish. Things were cleaned up, but the smell lingered and made a comeback a few days later when a second punctured sachet was also found to be leaking and stinking. This time an examination of the other sachets revealed a bloated 'salmon sachet' and the realisation that the sachets had not leaked, but had 'blown' with the pressure of the gases coming from the bacteria in the unsterilised food.

Ever the good citizen, I dutifully made a note of the batch number on the sachet, thinking it might be of some use to Tescos and the food manufacturer. I need not have bothered.

I phoned the Tesco number for 'Complaints Process' flagged up on their website. The first advisor said that he didn't deal with complaints and put me through to the second advisor who also didn't deal with complaints who put me through to a young woman who said she did deal with complaints.

I began by pointing out that the phone number on their website was wrong and then related the complaint. She was silent. She didn't put the phone down on me, but I knew she was still there. I could hear her breathing and sighing at the other end. I waited and she waited for me to put the phone down, which I eventually did because the call was costing me money.

I next sent a e-mail with the details above to the address on the website. I need not have bothered. I've received no reply.

Yesterday, I took the bloated sachet to the Tesco store where I bought it. I need not have bothered. The customer service advisor took the sachet and asked me to get a new box. I returned with the box. She then told me that there was a problem because I had returned one sachet but the box contained a number. She suggested I paid half price for the new box. I refused saying that we spent thousands of pounds a year in the store and suggested as a mark of goodwill, I should be given the box.

She phoned her manager . She should not have bothered. The manager confirmed that I should not get the box. I took the bloated sachet and said : " A multi-million pound company can't give me a box of cat food as a mark of goodwill after all the inconvenience." I was laughing as I said this and made it my 'laughter tonic' for the day.

....but, what a sad country Britain has become.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

B.B.C. is no company for Old Women

Joan Bakewell, at 76, is this country's 'Ageism Tsar', has criticised the B.B.C. for getting rid of women news presenters once they reach the age of 50.

News Readers :

Moira Stewart : retired off at 57
Anna Ford : left at 62,claiming she faced being sidelined
because of her age.

Also, 'Strictly Come Dancing' Judge :

Arlene Phillips : laid off at 66 and replaced by 30 year old Alesha Dixon.

Still there, the men -

'News Night' presenters :

Jeremy Paxman : 59
Gavin Esler : 56

Also working for the BBC, the broadcasters :

John Simpson : 64
John Humphrys : 66

Meanwhile in the U.S.A. Barbara Walters who became the anchor of N.B.C.'s 'Today' 48 years ago still has a show on ABC at 79. Diane Sawyer, presenter of ABC's 'Good Morning America' is 63 and in France, Christine Ockrent is still on 'France 24' at the age of 65.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Laughing Clubs for Baby boomers ?

In the link below, John Cleese visits Dr. Mandan Kataria in India. He is the founder of the World's first 'Laughing Club' who makes the point that if you fake laughter with others in a group, it is just as beneficial to your body as the real thing. His slogan is : " Fake it. Fake it. Until you make it. "

He has set up a Laughing Club in a Bombay prison on the basis that prisoners have stress, depression and anger and laughter can allay those feelings. Cleese says : "I found myself wondering, do we really want villains to be having quite such a good time ? And then I remembered that the people who are supposed to benefit from this are not just the prisoners , but also the prison staff."

I observe that, in a roundabout way, this is an example of Indian taxpayers' money being well spent.

As Britain's 'Baby Boomers' enter their twilight years, they will begin to make greater and greater financial demands on the resources of the National Health Service in particular and the Welfare State in general. State investment in Laughing Clubs today, could save the money of younger tax payers tommorrow. This idea is entirely logical and is guaranteed to find favour with abolutely no one in Government. After all, how could you justify spending tax payers' money financing clubs, designed to make old people laugh ?

John Cleese reports on Laughter Laughing Yoga

Friday 17 July 2009

Thoughts from an American Poet and an American President

Some thoughts from the the great American poet, T.S.Eliot who died at the age of 77 in the year I studied this poem at school. That was 45 years ago when I was a callow youth of 17.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
(From 'The Love Song Of J.Alfred Prufrock')

Some thoughts from the not so great American President George Bush, providing a tonic laugh for the day.

President Bush

One virus hoax and a Grumpy Old Briton

Yesterday, I received this e-mail from a well meaning ex-colleague.

You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message
with an attachment entitled 'POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK, 'regardless of who sent it to you.It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which burns the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in
his/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to send this
e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than
to receive the virus and open it.

If you receive a mail called' POSTCARD,' even though sent to you by a
friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately. This is the
worst virus announced by CNN.

It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair
yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of
the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.


So,being the good citizen, I duly sent it to everyone on my mailing list.

This was the reply I got from a very grumpy Old Man on the list :

I have just typed 'Postcard from Hallmark - virus' into Google and got an instant reply 'Hoax'.
Could you do the same next time and save youself and all your acquaintences a lot of time and worry.

His spelling and my highlight.

I've now posted his reply to everyone on my mailing list, with the exception of him.

After all, I wanted to put his message to some good use.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Baby boomers, we are 'The Pig in the Python'.

I thought I'd share this wonderful piece of nonsense - an essay in how to say nothing in 5 paragraphs. The writer must have had his or her tongue in both cheeks at the same time. Well done !

Baby Boomer
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baby boomer is a term used to describe a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom. The term "baby boomer" is sometimes used in a cultural context, and sometimes used to describe someone who was born during the post-WWII baby boom. Therefore, it is impossible to achieve broad consensus of a precise definition, even within a given territory. Different groups, organizations, individuals, and scholars may have widely varying opinions on what constitutes a baby boomer, both technically and culturally. Ascribing universal attributes to a broad generation is difficult, and some observers believe that it is inherently impossible. Nonetheless, many people have attempted to determine the broad cultural similarities and historical impact of the generation, and thus the term has gained widespread popular usage.

In general, baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values; however, many commentators have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations. In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of affluence. As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.

One of the unique features of Boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon.

The baby boom has been described variously as a "shockwave" and as "the pig in the python." By the sheer force of its numbers, the boomers were a demographic bulge which remodeled society as it passed through it.

The term Generation Jones has gained popularity to distinguish those born 1954-1965 from the earlier Baby Boomers.

Monday 13 July 2009

Laughs for the day - courtesy of President Bush

President funny speeches :

Showing how dumb George Bush Really is

Nine thoughts and One laugh for the day

Thoughts :
"Age is just a number. It's totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine".
Actress, Joan Collins.

"In youth the days are short and the years are long. In old age the years are short and day's long".
Pope, Paul VI.

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying".
President, Ronald Reagan.

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter".
Novelist, Mark Twain.

"If youth knew; if age could".
Psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud.

"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom".
Journalist, H. L. Mencken.

"Old age is when the liver spots show through your gloves".
Comedienne, Phyllis Diller.

"Old age is no place for sissies".
Actress, Bette Davis.

"Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought".
Poet, Emily Dickinson.


Showing how dumb George Bush Really is

Britain - a country where Big Business entice Old Men

British Gas have been at it again. In May, I put a posting on this blog called :

'Big business banking on poor memory'.

I described how this multi-million pound company informed me in February, that I'd signed up to a service agreement, which was £116 more per year, than the one to which I'd agreed.

I wrote then :

'I phoned the company to make my displeasure known and cancel the agreement asking the question : " how many old people would look at that document and say to themselves: Did I really sign up for that ? Oh well, if it says so in print, I must have done. Then go ahead and send the direct debit to their bank."
The advisor on the phone was apologetic and said that, as a mark of good faith, if I stayed with the original agreement, a £10 Marks and Spencer voucher would be with me in two weeks. I stayed with the agreement.'

Of course, the voucher didn't come.

Then, last Friday I heard from Britsih Gas again. I had a phonecall from a British Gas advisor, who told me that I was :
"entitled to an upgrade from my present HomeCare 200 to the HomeCare 400."
When I asked : "What's the catch ? How much is it going to cost me ?" He told me that it would only be, you've guessed it, another £116 per year. When I told him " No, I'm happy with my present agreement". He quickly ended the call. I can't remember if he thanked me for my time, but I suspect he didn't.

So British Gas are still up to their old tricks, this time trying to sell old people services they don't need, by convincing them they are special customers, hence, you "are entitled to an upgrade".

How many phonecalls did the advisor make on that day ? How many people did he ensnare ? No doubt he was on performance-related pay, which is why he put the phone down on me so quickly, after all 'time is money'.

What a sad country Britain has become.

Friday 10 July 2009

A role model for Britain's Old Men - Nathan Birnbaum

Nathan Birnbaum died at the age of 100 in 1996

Nathan was an American stage actor who wore a bad toupee and made a living, in the 1980's and 1990's, out of being, and reflecting on being, old. Here are some of the things he is remembered for saying :

At my age flowers scare me.

You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.

If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.

If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

It's good to be here. At 98, it's good to be anywhere.

You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

The author of these quotes was better known as the American comedian, writer and actor, George Burns. He would stand on the stage with the trademark cigar in hand and deliver the wisecracks in a distinctive dead pan style and gravelly voice. If you click on the link below you can hear that voice, either again, or for the first time, depending on who, or how old you are.

George Burns, his song - I wish I was Eighteen Again

It is only now, all these year later, that I begin to appreciate this man of wit, charm and equanimity who said - " Age means nothing. I can't get old ; I'm working. I was old when I was 21 and out of work. As long as you're working you stay young. When I'm in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age."

I remember seeing him on black and white T.V. in the 1950's with his wife Gracie on the 'Burns and Allen Show'. The clip below is from that long past, gentler age.

Clip from a Burns and Allen show.

Do you know anyone who would buy these T-shirts ?

I've found a company selling T-shirts with words and logos referring to old people like :


Another had on the front:
Not just for old
people anymore

and on the back:
Kids get arthritis too.
The Arthritis
Foundation :

Here is a selection of the others :


If you want to look
young and thin, hang
around old fat people

superimposed on a picture of an old man on a zimmer frame :
Old People
Scare Me

drawing of an old man in coat, hat and tie being burnt at a stake on a little grassy hill and the words:

with fire

old people
can multi-task !
we can laugh
cough, sneeze
fart and pee...
all at the same time

Never sneak up on
old people for a laugh
you may end up
with a concussion

Robots eat
old peoples

I think you'll agree with me that there is a lot high quality humour expressed on these T-shirts. I won't publish their web address for fear of advertising them without the company's consent.

Thursday 9 July 2009

For young and old - one thought and three tonics for the day

The thought, courtesy of the nineteenth century American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow :

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

The laughter tonics, courtesy of You Tube :

Funniest Prank in History
President Funny Speeches
Japanese Old Man

Laughter - a tonic for all Old Men

In Act I, Scene I of the 'Merchant of Venice' Antonio says :
I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano -
A stage, where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
Gratiano replies :
Let me play the fool : With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

The word 'mirth' is derived from the Old English word 'myrgth', from which we get the word 'merry' and it means 'merriment' or 'hilarious enjoyment'.

I'll start with a joke that made me laugh.
Two old men in the lounge and one wife in the kitchen.
The first said : “I am having a lot of trouble, I can’t remember anything anymore.”
The second : “Why don’t you do what I did? I went to a memory school.”
The first : “What's its name?”
The second : “What's the name of flower that has thorns on it?”
The first : “A rose.”
The second ( shouting ) : " Rose, what's the name of that memory school ?"

Shakespeare was pointing up the importance of laughter in old age and modern science confirms the positive effects of laughter in humans. It reduces the level of stress hormones in the body and increases life-enhancing hormones like endorphines and neotransmitters. It also increases the number of anti-body producing cells giving a stronger immune system and fewer physical effects of stress. Hence the old adage ' Laughter each day may keep the doctor away.' It is clearly good for people of all ages, not just old men. But there again, old men need all life-enhancing hormones and anti-bodies they can get !

Here are 3 links to U Tube. The first made me smile, but because of the contagious effects of laughter, the second and third made me laugh heartily and have set me up for the day.

Tom Rush - Remember Song
Old Man Laughing
Best Baby Laugh

Monday 6 July 2009

Hot old men in Britain, relax, your Government has a cunning 'Heatwave Plan'.

The 'Heatwave Plan' for England was published by the NHS in May. ( Click on the link then put Heatwave Plan in the Search box.) On its front cover, on the left, it has 3 photos. The first is a close up of three, young smiling children, with the sun on their uncovered heads. The second is an empty deckchair with a sun hat hooked on the strut and a glass of orange juice next to the leg. The third has close up of a grey haired old chap, out in the sun, wearing a straw hat and pruning some flowers. On the right a big yellow sun sits in a hot red sky.

The Plan says that heat loss from the body in hot weather can be impaired in old people as well as the chronically ill. They are more susceptible to heart attacks and breathing difficulties. Apparently, 'older women appear more vulnerable than older men, possibly due to having fewer sweat glands and are more likely to live on their own'. In other words, less likely to have someone keeping an eye on them.

So what does the plan offer those elderly couples or single people who are more vulnerable to heat and living in their own homes, like the old chap pruning his roses on the front cover ?

The answer is : not a lot.
In the section of the report entitled 'Protective Factors', people are advised to 'Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to stay cool. Ensure babies, children and elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars. Check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave.' So the old chap in his garden is reliant on good citizens to come round and check that he is staying cool and that he's properly ventilated in his car. And that's about it.

The heart of the Plan warns health authorities that, if the Met Office issues a 'red emergency' at level 4, in its traffic light system, they should be prepared for more hospital admissions. Social workers who already visit old people in their own homes and workers in old people homes should all be extra vigilant.

Apparently, by the 2080's we can expect heatwaves every summer, like the one in 2003, which was responsible for killing thousands of additional people - mostly elderly. Where the old tread today, today's young will tread tomorrow. Let us hope that by the time they reach 'their' seventies, strategies will be in place to protect all of 'them' from the worst excesses of temperature change.

Saturday 4 July 2009

Britain - a country where the class to which old men belong, still dictates how long they live.

Life expectancy for men in England has risen to an average of 77.7 years compared to 77.3, three years ago and for women to 81.6 years. The Minister for Public Health, Gillian Merron said : " The health of the nation is improving..It is good to see that you can expect to live longer, that early deaths from heart disease, cancer and smoking related diseases are decreasing." However, the fact is that there are wide regional and social variations. For example, the expectancy for men in Blackpool is 73.2 whereas in ultra-middle class Kensington and Chelsea in London, it is 83.7. That's a whacking ten and a half years difference !

The Professor of Social Policy and Gerontology at the University of Sheffield has pointed out that healthy life styles are more likely in middle class, professional households, than in working class homes and households on state benefits. He made the point that " when you are poor you can't choose what you eat...The health inequality statistics are a mirror of other inequalities. Those differences are getting wider".

So my fellow baby boomers,those of you leading comfortable, middle class lives are probably going to live longer than your working class contemporaries. As 'twas the the case in the past, so 'tis now.

Britain - a country where, despite the work of 'socialist' governments in this and the last century, social inequality lives on , alive, well, unabated and reflected in the lives of our old men.

Friday 3 July 2009

Britain is a country where burglars should beware some old men and women

A case has just come to court involving a drunken, 23 year old man who, armed with a knife, broke into a pensioner's house in Oxford, after he'd been to an all night party in August last year. Unfortunately, for the burglar, the 72 year old pensioner happened to be a former schoolboy feather-weight boxing champion and ex-soldier. He delivered 2 right hooks to the burglar's face and carried out a 'citizen's arrest' on the semi-conscious man and held until the police arrived.
The pensioner said he was scared when the burglar drew the knife, " but most people would have reacted in the same way."
The Judge had no sympathy for the intruder, who was found guilty of 'aggravated burglary' and given a sentence of four and a half years.

This was matched by an incident in August last year, where a 35 year old thief got into the home a a 69 year old pensioner and tried to steal a bottle of wine, but ran off after the pensioner delivered some punches. The judge in the Newcastle trial praised the pensioner for his bravery. The burglar got a suspended sentence with supervision and drug rehabilitation.

In another incident near Merthyr Tydfil this year, an 87 year old woman hit a burglar with her metal crutch 4 times across the back, when she found him in her kitchen. She then phoned the police and held him at bay until they arrived.
A detective constable said " I've told her she's my new heroine. She's amazing, a real inspiration."

These stories reminded me that, many years ago my feisty old Mum also found a young man in her kitchen and forced him to make his exit after raining blows at him. The police officer who arrived said that she was "a very brave but not very sensible old lady" and given the fact that my Mum was a tiny little woman, this was probably about right.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Born in the U.S.A.

Although, I have nothing in common with those U.S. celebrities who, like me, were conceived either in 1946 or early 1947 and born in '47, I feel an affinity with them, because of the confluence of our births.

What I found,as a result of my research, cheered me up. They are a gifted bunch, who have given a lot and are still giving a lot to their country.

In music, Billy Crystal, Arlo Guthrie, Iggy Pop, Meat Loaf and Carlos Santana. In films and T.V., Glen Close, Ted Danson, Richard Dreyfus, Kevin Kline, Sondra Locke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, O.J.Simpson and James Wood. Also, there is film producer David Ladd and directors, Steven Spielburg and David Mamet and last, but not least, the politicians Hilary Clinton and Dan Quale.

It's funny to think that, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, we all came kicking and screaming into this Old World within the same, short space of time, and apart from colour or gender, there was then, little difference between us.