Archive for the ‘Hexposé’ Category


Hexposé is a repository for the random thoughts that run through my brain. It could probably best be described as a social commentary.  All opinions are my own, and I take no responsibility for any effect they may have on you.  If you don’t like what you read there’s a simple solution – stop reading and go elsewhere.

I started writing Hexposé in 2004, and continued until 2005.  Why such a short period?  Well, in truth, I had a very, very dull desk job and had permission to basically entertain myself between taking telephone calls and letting patients in.  So I wrote my little social commentary pieces.  Then the business closed and I went to work elsewhere – so I stopped writing!

I thought I would resurrect the original pieces, all of which can be found in the new Hexposé category – click here to visit it.

Why is it called Hexposé?  A bit of an amalgamation between ‘hex’ and ‘exposé’ – I thought it was pretty appropriate for a witch 😉

I’m going to try and start writing again this year, so the Hexposé section will be added to sporadically, new additions will be written as and when I have the chance/inspiration. If there’s a subject that you want to see given the Hexposé treatment then e-mail me at: info@the-gift-shed and put ‘Hexposé’ in the subject line.

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…I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
[Mary Frye, 1932]

A beautiful poem, which unfortunately I’ve had occasion to copy out into cards of sympathy twice in as many weeks. Death’s one of nature’s certainties, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a shock to us when it occurs. Whether we knew the deceased or not, death still strikes a chord with most of us, reminding us of our own mortality.

That’s the rub, isn’t it? Death is always hardest on those who are left behind. However tragic or painful a person’s demise, at the end of the day death is a natural end to their suffering. What of those who die young? You may well ask that question, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that death comes when it’s your time – whether you feel it is, or not.

So what of the mourners, the bereaved, who are left behind to pick up the pieces? Everyone deals with grief in their own way; sometimes they accept what has happened and move on quickly, but for others grief can be an all-consuming emotion that overwhelms them.

That’s why, really, I’ve started putting this poem into the cards I send in sympathy. To remind people, if they need reminding, that people only really die if you let them – if you continue to think of them with love, then their love can be found all around you. Let them move on in peace, because as long as you have your memories of them, they’ll always be with you.

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“We’re sorry that the 14:48 service to Stratford has been delayed by approximately 47 minutes…”

That’s great, it’s very big of them to apologise, however it’s currently 15:55 and I was hoping to catch the 15:33… goodness alone knows what’s happened to that. Or the 15:18 come to think of it. Oh, wait, what’s that coming over the tannoy? Ah, it’s an apology for the delay of the 14:18 train. It’s now 16:00 – be honest Ms. Service Announcement lady, the last five trains aren’t delayed, they’ve been cancelled.

It’s not that I don’t believe trains can be an hour late – because I know that they often are. However, that’s usually national trains, not this sodding metro service that’s supposed to be taking me, and I kid you not, about 3.5 miles down the road.

I walk at a good healthy rate, and I can easily do a 15 minute mile – and if I’d had any idea the train service was going to be this bad then I’d have just walked it. But no, the timetable says one every 15 minutes off peak, so that’s four trains per hour. I figured I’d easily get to my meeting on time – boy is presumption the mother of all cock-ups.

I’m late for my meeting, even if I go and catch the two buses (which, walking aside, are the alternative route), I’m still going to be late.

So, how about some honesty from Silverlink Metro in future? Why not just say that the previous 5 trains have disappeared off the face of the planet, and that you actually have no idea when a train will next grace the platform with its presence? If, instead of apologising for the delay and asking travellers to “wait for the next announcement”, you were to just say “no trains until further notice” I (and, no doubt, most of the other stranded passengers on this platform) could have found an alternative route from the outset.

“We’re sorry to announce that the 14:48 train to Stratford has been cancelled. The next train to arrive at the eastbound platform will be the 15:33 service to Stratford…”

It’s 16:15, I’m going to have to take a cab…

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Senile dementia?

Life’s strange isn’t it? Bit of a random question, and not an entirely rhetoric one either. I caught up, by e-mail, with a friend I haven’t seen in a while…

Me: I’d better get on and tidy my lovely new tool cupboard – it’s really weird, if someone had said to me when I was 18 that I’d be excited to have a tool cupboard I’d have thought they were utterly bonkers, just goes to show you can never tell!

Him: Face it we are getting old – I got excited when I bought a drill.

You know what, he’s right. Our priorities change so much, even over the space of just a few years. We go from being desperately interested in boys and make-up, to being desperate for five minutes peace and quiet, and wondering when exactly it was that they discontinued our favourite range of cosmetics… It makes sense I suppose, that as we age we want different things from life – but does that necessarily mean that we’re different people?

In the space of six years I’ve gone from being immaculately (if skimpily) attired and perfectly coiffed to being comfortable in jeans, a scruffy jumper and with hair that often makes me look like a survivor from an oil slick incident. Does that make me a different person? Possibly, although my values, ethics, and other defining characteristics are pretty much the same. Does it make me a better person? I think it might well do, although not by any recognisable standard. I’m pretty much the same person inside, but I think the outward changes signify a serious change – I no longer care what people think of me anymore. I don’t pay much attention to what I wear, I don’t bother with make-up – if people see me looking less than my best then quite frankly they can take me or leave me. It’s not that I don’t care anymore, it’s that the opinions of others are less important to me than they used to be.

Is this what maturity is? Being comfortable going to the shops with unwashed hair and no make-up on? Going out in public in clothes that should have been sent for disposal years ago? I think it might well be – at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

And yes, I do have a new tool cupboard, which I love so much that I actually hugged it when it first arrived. Make what you will of that.

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The BBC recently ran ‘The Hard Spell’ – a televised competition to find “Britain’s best young speller”. In short, contestants were read out a series of words, which they then had to spell aloud. There was much praise for all the contestants, and of course the finalists – but what exactly are they being praised for? I’ll happily give them credit for not succumbing to stage fright, but at the end of the day they’re just spelling words.

Words, I might add, that they don’t necessarily know the meaning of. Words, I dare say, that they probably couldn’t use in a conversation if their lives depended on it. Ok, so they don’t need to know what the word means, as long as they can spell it, but to me it seems utterly pointless to learn how to spell reams and reams of words that you’re not going to use. A well-trained parrot could do the same thing, and I’d probably be more impressed.

Is there a point to this particular rant? Probably not actually – there was a point when I first started writing, but I ended up taking an unscheduled break due to illness in the family.

Actually, perhaps there is a point. So the best speller in the UK can spell all manner of words, I’m sure they can spell ‘meningitis’ – but does being able to spell the name of an illness mean that they have even the slightest inkling of what the ramifications might be if they caught it? Does the ability to spell ‘alcoholism’ mean that they’ll be able to avoid suffering from it when they’re older? Does the actual spelling of ‘Alzheimer’s’ in any way suggest how painfully protracted and heart-rending it can be for both the afflicted and those around them? I don’t think so.

Words have power, we all know that, but merely being able to spell them doesn’t signify a thing. It doesn’t mean that you’re intelligent, it doesn’t confer any kind of superiority – all it means is that you’ve done as you were told. I thought that learning by rote was outdated and obsolete, but maybe we’ve just taken a step back to a time when knowing what something is was the same as knowing what it was actually like.

Experience is everything, words pale in comparison. Perhaps those who believe in the Hard Spell should try learning things the hard way instead.

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Excuses, excuses…

An alien sighting, following winds, a dying hamster, and a desperate need for the lavatory, were all offered as excuses by speeding motorists. “It is quite amazing the lengths that some drivers will go to avoid a £60 fine and three points,” Ray King, of Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership, said.
The Times, Friday December 3 2004

It’s not amazing at all, Mr King. In fact considering the way we’re raised on lies it would be more surprising if we didn’t embroider the truth on occasion. Yes, I said lies – if excuses were true, then they wouldn’t be excuses, they’d be reasons. Right?

I expect many people would be appalled at my saying that we’re raised on lies, but it’s true.

Father Christmas, the tooth fairy, watching TV will give you square eyes and carrots will make you see in the dark, if the wind changes your face will stay like that, and if you pick your nose your brains will fall out… you get the picture yet? Ok, so we’re quite young when those lies are told, and perhaps they don’t make an impression (although the phrase ‘formative years’ does spring to mind…), but it doesn’t improve with age. At secondary school we’re lied to as a matter of course: the hundred years war (a bit of a misnomer that, eh?), Nelson’s last words (“Kiss me Hardy” – another convenient lie, as you’d feel a bit of a twat telling a class of kids that his final utterance was, in fact, “Drink, drink. Fan, fan. Rub, rub.”), and of course the ubiquitous “your GCSE grades will have a real impact on your future employment”.

What about as adults? The theme continues: one size fits all, open wide this won’t hurt a bit… it’s not you, it’s me…

It’s no wonder we come up with dubious excuses at the drop of a hat, it’s just what we’re used to after all.

Oh, and Mr King? Perhaps you’re on a massively inflated salary, but to the rest of us £60 is a lot of money – and if telling a little white lie means we might get out of paying it, then so be it.

Besides, it wasn’t a hamster, it was a gerbil…

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A poster campaign reminding people that God is always there to hear their prayers opened in London. The Churches’ Advertising Network depicts Heaven as a call centre with operators wearing wings and the slogan: “It’s business as usual in Heaven. Lines to God open 24/7.”
[The Times, Friday December 3 2004]

What’s next, a premium rate number leading to an answering service for God? Give me a break.

24/7 telephone lines are, on the whole, a waste of time – so why the church believe this campaign will put them in a positive light is beyond me. My bank has a 24 hour telephone service… I called them one evening this week, and despite the fact that they were polite and solicitous the outcome of the conversation was that I had to visit my local branch to sort the problem out.

Great, very useful so far. Someone was able to listen to my problem but couldn’t help to save their life.

So, lines to God are apparently open 24/7, but even the most optimistic religious devotee will have to eventually concede that they’ve been put on the ecclesiastical equivalent of hold.

“I’m sorry but all our lines are currently engaged. You are being held in a queue, our next available deity will be with you as soon as possible. Your belief is important to us.”

What then, a sudden rush to their local branch – sorry, church? It’s possible I suppose, but even there they have little chance of any answer to their prayers.

And that’s the flaw with religion in general, and prayers specifically. It’s all very well for church representatives, in the comfort of their homes or offices, to say ‘God is listening’ – but what people actually want, and need, is someone to answer them. Listening has its place, but people need results.

“Thank you for your continued patience. In order to improve customer services we are attempting to keep callers informed as to how long they can expect to be waiting. You are currently placed 1,498,723 in the queue, estimated waiting time is infinite.”

If my bank can’t deal with my problems on the phone, and I have to visit my local branch, they can record it as a service failure (i.e. I’m dissatisfied with the service provided) and try to compensate me. If you pray to God (“Lines open 24/7”) and get no response, what compensation can you expect? Seems to me as though the church ought to be done for false advertising – although, let’s be fair, they haven’t actually promised any results, so perhaps we can get them for false representation of a product or service that can’t be proven to exist.

“I’m sorry, but we’re experiencing higher than usual call volumes and all of our deities are still busy. Please hang up and try again later.”

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You know, it’s strange, but I’ve never really thought about what it means to have grown up in the time that I have. Being born in the early Eighties I’ve never known a world without, say, computers, mobile phones, or the internet. And having been raised in an ethnically diverse part of London, where white was a bit of a minority in my school, I find it hard to picture a world where colour doesn’t exist.

Racism is a mystery to me.

I live in a world where, on the whole, people live and work happily side-by-side, not caring about skin tone or ethnic background. Granted, there are still those who harbour racist thoughts and feelings, but it’s understood that it’s not acceptable to express them, and that it will, at the very least, be severely frowned upon.

Imagine my horror, therefore, when watching England play a friendly international, at hearing the crowd burst into monkey-chants whenever a black player went anywhere near the ball.

It’s sickening, incomprehensible, and bang out of order. It also saddens me greatly, because it’s not an isolated incident – black players at English clubs have been subjected to racist abuse when playing abroad in Europe for years. What’s worse is that, in this particular instance, the racist abuse was all but condoned, with the Spanish national coach getting away with making a racist comment only weeks previously, and refusing to condemn the abusive supporters. When I think of racism in modern day society, the first place that springs to mind is the deep south in the United States, where the Ku Klux Klan are still rearing their ugly heads – it’s frankly scary to think that such outright bigotry exists just down the road in other European countries.

You’d think that people would have more important things to worry about than the colour of a person’s skin. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I find myself wondering if it will ever cease to be a problem. After all, racism isn’t infectious, it’s not a communicable disease, so why can’t it be stamped out?

We managed to eradicate smallpox – perhaps we should start looking into a vaccine against racism.

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Isn’t it strange how life’s little disappointments can knock you sideways? Life’s so full of incident that we become blasé, barely pausing when a real tragedy occurs, but even then we can be caught unawares and be left breathless and gasping by a trivial set-back.

A case in point: I went out to buy some trainers today. Not a big deal at all but I was, as they say, ‘psyched’ as I’ve been in desperate need of new footwear for both work and otherwise. On Saturday, just three days ago, I saw a pair of fairly cute, yet very practical, trainers in a shop that was having a ‘buy one, get one free’ sale. Fantastic, thought I, as I’d previously bought shoes from the same shop at the same sale rate. The shop being packed to the gills though, I left it for the time being. Hence today’s little jaunt into town. So, I strolled in, grabbed the shoes I’d seen previously, and another equally nice pair. I tried them on, faffing about the sizes. I walked around plenty to ensure they fitted comfortably. Then I took them to the counter, only to discover that the sale had ended. Disappointed? That doesn’t seem a strong enough adjective for what I felt. I felt as though someone had knocked the legs out from under me. Two other emotions vied for my attention: anger and frustration. Anger at myself for not braving the crowds and buying the damn things on Saturday, and frustration because despite really needing new shoes, I can’t afford to spend that much money on just one pair. Living on a budget really sucks sometimes, but I just can’t bring myself to be one of those countless people who live beyond their means.

As I wended my way home, shoeless, slightly dazed and on the verge of tears, I wondered why I was taking it so hard. It wasn’t just the disappointment itself, I think; it was the fact that it’s the first stroke of bad luck, trivial or otherwise, that I’ve had for a long while.

We grow thick skins to deal with the sometimes hideous things life throws at us. We learn to shrug things off as though they’re nothing more than specks of dust. So what happened to me? Perhaps my emotional calluses have softened through lack of abuse, leaving me vulnerable to any little set-back. Perhaps it wasn’t disappointment, but instead a sense of impotence because I can’t actually afford to clothe myself at the moment. Or perhaps I just really wanted the damn shoes.

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Is it just me, or are abbreviations and pointless acronyms taking over the world?

IMHO it’s really quite unnecessary, ISTM that the overuse of abbreviations in a written conversation can leave a casual onlooker mystified. In short, it’s little more than glorified text talk.

Seriously, some acronyms do have their place. For instance, scientists have abbreviated ‘ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase’ to Rubisco – now that is understandable. However, when people shorten ‘it seems to me’ to ISTM, it really does appear to be laziness of the highest order.

AFAIC, it’s a simple case of GIGO, and does rather point to IIIO – with clear connections to ESO. IRL acronyms are JOOTT that you come across every now and then. Mind you, YNK when you might actually need to write AP in a hurry, or be in such a rush to CTC that you think tapping on the keyboard to produce a TLA will give you some kind of VFM then you’re not so much thinking OOTB, more with your HUYA…

So, next time you’re tempted to take shortcuts when typing, remember how irritating it was to read the above paragraph – and don’t inflict your pointless acronyms on others.

For a list of common internet acronyms and shorthand visit:

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