Monday 1 November 2010

Trick or treat - or kindly leave the British culture?

Oh, how I hate Halloween. And how all my friends and neighbours know it. We had no pumpkin in the window. The pumpkin, I'm given to understand, being the established "we are joining in" symbol. We would have had one but the Hire Shop didn't do Kalashnikovs to go with it ... We had neighbour's kid saying to the other kids, "Don't go to Sharon's house. She says it's a Bomber Nation" They rang the door bell incessantly anyway and then put mud in our letterbox. Oh, how lovely. Thank you so much, American cousins, for bringing us this horrible "tradition" that we're now stuck with.

Yes, I know Halloween is a pagan festival. Yes, I know witches were originally European etc etc. I have several good friends who are pagans, though I can't for the life of me understand why someone would want to follow a set of beliefs that declares that people who are ill gradually have their soul taken away until there's nothing left and they don't "pass over". It does seem to lack compassion for the sick. Become ill and you're off the team. Fortunately they can accept Jesus Christ as their saviour and be with him it heaven, not left behind. He didn't condemn the sick.

Yes, I know Christmas and Easter are based on old pagan festivals. So what? Those festivals were probably based on whatever the cave man did and anyway they are much improved with Jesus. I get it that traditions evolve and are based on someone else's.

My pagan friends and those of other religions, including those who believe there is something out there then go on to offend that something on a daily basis, can do as they please. My objection is to a "holiday" imposed on us not by Americans as a people but by American TV and marketing. Just as there are marketing sciences (anyone see the Head and Shoulders woman in the lab advert?) there are whole traditions thought up by companies who decide what we celebrate by the amount of plastic tat they can sell.

Halloween might be fun in the US. I can see the attraction of the kids dressing up and lots of candy. Two issues, then:

1) Our kids don't play so nicely. Halloween is a chance to be nasty and older kids even use it to menace the old, lonely and vulnerable. I can't think of anything more horrible.

2)We already HAD our autumn festival with Bonfire Night and that has now been pushed out by Halloween. Our local Rotary Club holds a big public fireworks festival. A few years ago when Bonfire Night actually fell on a Saturday they held it the weekend before so it could be a Halloween festival as well. What ?????

My American friends and anyone over 30 CLICK HERE to see what Bonfire Night is all about. It falls on November 5th.

The independent shops can't afford to stock fireworks and Halloween tat. The chain stores are told they must stock Halloween tat. The parents can't afford both and, with the excuse that fireworks are dangerous - as opposed to knocking on the doors of strangers and causing criminal damage, which is apparently OK - they "celebrate" Halloween instead. So no making a guy, building a bonfire for weeks beforehand, eating sausages and potatoes cooked in the fire, writing your name with sparklers. Forget that. Here's a plastic pumpkin instead.

We've had hundreds of years of Bonfire Night. It's an important part of our heritage and you'd think, as the first anti-terrorist festival, it would be important. It's wiped out with one generation of marketing cheap plastic goods from China. How utterly depressing.

My family celebrates Bonfire Night. We even had my Dad's funeral party (photos below) on 5th November because his funeral was the next day. He loved Bonfire night and would have thought it a huge joke if he could have been cremated on 5th November but in 2006 that was a Sunday so we couldn't arrange it for him. We had a wonderful time although building the bonfire without him was heartbreaking. We'd had such wonderful bonfire parties as children. The whole neighbourhood would be invited.

We celebrate on 5th November, not some more convenient day near it. We even set off fireworks in the pouring rain if we have to. The only reason we don't have our own fireworks at the moment is that the rocket launching site is a bit too near the rabbit hutch! Once the elderly bunnies are gone we'll have the rockets back.

I urge all British people to celebrate Bonfire Night and eschew Halloween. Let's take our autumn festival back!

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Saturday 29 May 2010

Here we are being the stars again

Dolly Says: The computer was very quiet as Mum was knitting but then the knitting got too complicated so she started playing on Hey Mum we need some new pictures!

Friday 2 April 2010

Happy Easter!

Molly says: Mum says Easter is not about chocolate and bunnies but she likes playing with Smilebox so she helped us make this:
Click to play this Smilebox greeting: Easter Bunnies 2010
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Digital greeting customized with Smilebox

Molly's Medicine

Sharon Says: Poor Molly had a gut flora imbalance. I'm surprised she's got away with it for so long, I'm sure she breaks out of the hutch and goes down to McDonald's. She's such a little piggy. At least the vet told us she's generally very healthy with excellent teeth. We've had to give her the bunny version of yakult with a plastic dropper which she's not too keen on but it seems to have worked. No more carrots or grapes!

Molly says: That medicine tasted disgusting. I don't know why they can't make it taste like something rabbits like. Dad was holding me and I spit out loads of medicine on him but then I kept still because Mum kept telling me what a good bunny I am. I feel much better now and I'm jumping around like I used to. The standard of catering seems to have gone down though. I haven't seen any carrots in my dish. I don't know what Dolly gets. Mum has separated us for tea for a long time because apparently Dolly doesn't get much when we share. What does she mean by that?

Dolly Says: Ha! No carrots for you!

Friday 12 March 2010

Tummy Trouble!

Molly Says: I'm feeling ill. I have diarrhoea and therefore an excuse for a mucky tail. Mum keeps watching me through the window and coming out to see me. I'm trying to be cheerful but not giving many kisses.

Sharon Says: Oh no, it might be the vet this time. Molly has a lot of tummy trouble due to her piggyness but this time it dosn't look very good. It being Friday we need to go to the vet soon if we're going but given her sad history I don't want to put Molly in the carrier and take her away from Dolly if I can help it.

Friday 5 March 2010

Finally ... some photos on Facebook!

Molly says: I don't know what Mum does all day. Some word beginning with W that's not in a rabbit's vocabl... vocalub.... vocabuary ....list of words that we use. She's taking forever to do our digital scrapbook. She's probably lost half the photos .... but at least she's put an album on her Facebook profile so everyone can see how fabulous we are.

Dolly Says: Yes, the problem is she has to do a lot of editing to remove the scruffy fat rabbit (you ) and include lots of pics of the utterly gorgeous rabbit (me).

Sharon Says: The Facebook album is HERE. More pics to be added soon!

It's making me .....sic

"I hope it doesn't make you I'll" was spotted by Yours Truly on Facebook the other day. I hope it doesn't make you what? You will do what? Is this some kind of "I have no idea where apostrophes go but I don't want to look ignorant so I'll sprinkle them everywhere" syndrome? Does anyone ever read what they write?

This morning's virtual brick was thrown at someone asking the usual "what u doin then" sans question mark, naturally, who professed to be a teacher. Wonderful. The morons are teaching now ...

Friday 29 January 2010

Let's take the F word out of Facebook

Grumpy old woman here again ....

One of the many surprising delights of Facebook is seeing photos of a friend's grown up child when the last I saw of the child was at the delivery of some exquisite hand made baby item (if they were lucky ...). It's a "My, how you've grown" moment for me. Fortunately for them they can't hear me say that.

The other day I panicked as it looked as though a friend's daughter's Facebook account had been hijacked by a porno outfit. "Come F*** me boys" etc etc. I think "ad nauseam" is apposite here as is the thought "thank God I don't have a daughter". There was no hijacking of her account ... apparently foul-mouthed slut is how she wants to appear on Facebook. To her friends, to her parents' friends, to the teachers of the school whose network she belongs to, to her elderly relatives, to her future employers .... for, make no mistake, these things can come up in searches no matter how careful you think you've been in the settings function. Here's a thought - surely if you have to hide what you're writing there is something wrong with what you're writing!

The internet is unforgiving and has the proverbial elephantine memory. How do you want it to remember you?

Friday 22 January 2010

Some winter sun

Dolly: Today it's pouring with rain but yesterday it was sunny for a few hours so Mum let us play on the grass. She puts our run half over the grass and half over the rubber matting stuff the jacuzzi sits on (why do humans want to get wet?)so our feet don't get too wet. Here's a photo of me dozing, I mean resting my eyes. Mum has a whole load of these pages. She's going to make a proper album of us when she's finished that work thing.

Molly: Hey I'm in that too! btw Mum says digi layout is by Lliella designs from Sweet Shoppe, whatever that means. I didn't see my name in that sentence.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

I found some of my own kind...

Do you cringe when you read a single sentence containing bad grammar? Do aberrant apostrophes cause you physical pain? You are not alone ...

I was flicking through the live feed on Facebook while enjoying my first coffee of the day. That's rather sad, isn't it? Since it was 7am here I was mainly catching up on the activity of my US friends. One had joined the Grammar Nazis and I quickly followed suit (or followed "suite" as some writers, presumably those in a comfy armchair, would have it). There I found my own kind of people. What a joy!

There is one problem in joining this kind of group or, indeed, writing on this kind of blog - I have to be very careful what I write and keep a close eye on my own grammar. At least I now have reliable people to correct me.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

The Chickens Are Taking Over

A very capable friend of mine who keeps chickens remarked on Facebook that she was "in chicken coup hell". Such tiny creatures and yet they can organise their own coup. Amazing....

Sometimes a teeny spelling mistake really can make a difference to what the sentence means. This friend has a first class brain but is of the generation who went to school just as the teachers stopped caring about spelling or - as my theory has it - stopped being able to spell.

Good luck in sorting out your chicken coop problems, Chrissie;-)

Saturday 16 January 2010

Dreadful Faux Pas by Royal Caribbean

RCI promote their Haiti resort while ignoring the earthquake for hours!

I joined the Royal Caribbean fan page on Facebook. I'm a loyal P & O cruise passenger - it's only polite when the ships dock half a mile from my house - but I've been on one RCI cruise and always enjoy hearing news of cruise ships. Wandering on to their page the other day instead of doing urgent work I came across an eloquent piece of prose about the private resort of Labadee in Northern Haiti which is visited regularly by its cruise ships.

I'm not too keen on this private "island" idea. The passengers are waited on by cruise ship staff, eat and drink supplies brought by the ship and the local people are usually corralled into a small area to sell their wares if they're lucky. Not the kind of thing that makes you feel comfortable on holiday unless you're a rich person who doesn't care about the locals and would prefer them to be kept away.

I read the comments out of curiosity to see where it was. That geography A Level will not be wasted ... I was absolutely appalled to learn - from the comments - that the earthquake had just happened. I've been chained to my tax return program and hadn't seen any news. The post by Royal Caribbean could not have been more insensitive. Now that might have been unfortunate timing but RCI left the post there for several hours - at least six I should say - while commenters got more and more angry with them.

They have a public relations department, don't they? I imagine it employs several people. If a company wants to have a Facebook page as part of its marketing it's surely incumbent upon them to monitor it. If a car insurance company can pay a marketing bod to mess around impersonating a meerkat on Facebook then RCI can surely have someone watch over their page.

They quickly got their act together as soon as someone was kicked into touch. Unfortunately their blog is called "Why Not?" and anyone reading it would have a tab on their screen proudly proclaiming "Haiti Earthquake - Why Not?" Oh dear. Could their IT bods not have set up a new blog so we don't get the frivolous title and the superfluous information that their boss has a mean table tennis serve?

Today's/Yesterday's blog post by Royal Caribbean is HERE. They have sent the Inpendence of the Seas with supplies. That's all very well but a ship can't just dock and fend for itself - unless it's there only a short while it needs to hook up to water, power etc and needs port staff available, thereby using local resources already under severe strain. Delivering supplies is no doubt the best option from a logistics and, being cynical, PR point of view. Whilst a cruise ship has plentiful accommodation and medical facilities any cruise line cancelling a week or two of passenger cruising would lose millions. Far better to run the cruises and hand over the money to relief organisations. I see RCI have pledged $1 million. So far.

There's another piece in that blog post that bothers me. It seems Royal Caribbean passengers are now whingeing about security when they visit the private island.

"I’ve been reading some of the responses on the blog and one common concern I noticed from our readers is the subject of security. Throughout the 30 years that we have been working with Haiti, safety and security of our guest has always been our top priority. As any resort area would have, we do have a dedicated security team that protects the integrity of the site.

In addition, we approach security in Labadee by developing strong relationships with the local communities in which we live and work. We put these words into action by sponsoring schools; constructing water projects, bridges, docks, community centers; and supporting continued development efforts within the region. We do these things not just to ensure security, but also because it is the right thing to do for our neighbors and the people of Haiti.

We also create employment and financial opportunities for businesses who supply us with some of the goods and services that we need to operate on a daily basis. Labadee employs 240 full-time people and indirectly impacts another 300 through the straw market, hair braiding, and other companies that supply goods and services to the site.

I'd believe the last paragraph if I ever saw it in action. I find the first paragraph somewhat disturbing. What does it mean exactly? Do they propose to shoot the starving and homeless to protect the wealthy? I'm imagining a future RCI blog post - "The End of Days brought to you by Royal Caribbean - Why Not?"

I've commented in this vein on the RCI Facebook wall. Now that someone IS in charge of monitoring it it will no doubt be deleted. That's if they can find it amongst the sycophantic "We love you" posts from those more concerned with enjoying their cruises than helping the people of Haiti.

UK readers: Please go to to make a donation to the relief effort.

The DEC Facebook Page is HERE

Thursday 14 January 2010

Molly: I'm really bored. Is Mum still up half the night and giving us early breakfast? And are we going to get out on the grass today? Snow is getting on my nerves now.

Dolly: Why don't you just look outside, you thick rabbit? You can see Mum sitting at her computer. In fact she's sitting there just as I'm typing this and I can see what she's doing on Facebook too. Seems to be sending messages to her mates rather than working. Again.

Dunno about the grass. The rain is melting it but then ....there's the rain. You can't go out on wet grass 'cos you'll get your tail all mucky again. Messy rabbit.

Molly: Yea. We'll have to see what happens to the weather.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Shame on you, UK Business Forums

I just received a newsletter from the UK Business Forums.

" If I was Prime Minister..."

If I were Prime Minister, surely. I'm not sure why I'd want to be Prime Minister since I've walked the length and breadth of Downing Street and not seen a decent wool shop but I like to think I'd say it correctly.

Welcome to my new blog

I've been blogging amongst the tax returns for light relief, as it were, and it occurred to me that I had no general rambling-on-about-everything blog so here it is. It shares a fancy header with Wool and Flax. I plan to give this one a header with pics of me from baby to old lady but these things take time and that's too much time taken away from work right now.

I'm not going to turn this into a "I took the dog for a walk" blog. For a start that would be an out-and-out lie since we don't have a dog. I could take our neighbour's dog for a walk ..... but even then it would be an utterly tedious "I took the neighbour's dog for a walk" blog. Not much better. It won't be a Grumpy Old Woman blog either. There are many places, including my own home, where I can be a Grumpy Old Woman

I have 12 blogs, 9 that you can see. One of those is written by my bunnies who have WiFi installed in their hutch. What the heck, they're free. Blog, that is. The bunnies have the best of everything and cost a fortune. And most of mine are specialised. Again, I'm talking about the blogs. My tax clients who read the Horswills blog don't particularly want to read about my daily photo project although they can find it easily enough if they follow the blogging trail or are Facebook friends.

Feel free to comment on anything!

Warning: Grumpy Old Woman on Facebook

This blog is the closest I have to a Grumpy Old Woman blog. It might be appropriate to have one called that but the blogger url has already gone and I'm a tad blogged out talking about scrapbooking, bunnies and the tedious minutiae of the tax system.

Don't even get me started on the lazy way the "book" part of Facebook is now pronounced. The phonetic symbols are beyond me but just push your lips together and forward to see how the work "book" used to be pronounced.

That out of the way and this being a blog about the written word ...

I have resisted Facebook for a long time, partly because I would have stuck pins in my eyes rather than have anything to do with people who were inviting me onto it, partly because it seemed silly. I was a moderator of a marketing forum for a while and reading pages and pages of how to collect friends and then spam them to death completely put me off. Never, ever, allow someone who is in network marketing (it will be proudly displayed on their info page) to become your friend unless you want incessant messages about saving money on your utility bills or "lose weight now, ask me how". If only the latter, or indeed the former, worked.

So, resisting the Scrapbook Police, marketers and those who owe me money or vice versa .... it's been good to catch up with cousins I haven't seen for years and people I knew messing about on the radio. I was doing the messing about, they were doing it professionally. I even found a few chums from school and university. How sad that I only found out a neighbour's father had died through Facebook. My terror of falling down and breaking something during the Tax Season has kept me in until such time as I can see the pavement outside the house. I had high hopes for tomorrow but it's snowing again and the Southampton bin men have been absent long enough to get their own Grumpy Old Woman post very soon.

I'm also resisting all the Farmville type games, the gifts and various other applications. Whilst it all seems fun it's not fun to have your computer compromised by all these things that require your log in details. In any case another distraction is something I need like a hole in the head. Digital scrapbooking and games provide plenty of that.

I have a few quibbles with Facebook or, rather, its users. For many names the search comes up with hundreds of options. I seem the be the only Sharon Horswill on there, she declares from a position of superiority, although there are a few others on th'internet. How are we supposesd to find anyone? Why doesn't their location come up in the search? Their email addy doesn't find them as many people sensible choose a different addy just for Facebook and if you haven't been in touch with people since before the days of email - some of us go that far back - then you are not likely to know their email addy are you? What's with the picture of someone in a field, baby scans, pictures of two people etc etc? FACEbook. The clue is in the name! Do you want to be found or not?

What's Sue Smith Was Jones all about? Did Sue Smith nee Jones go out of fashion or did our American friends never use that?

Fair enough, groups of teenagers or business networks might not want to be found/let any grownups in but even they should be careful since internet searches last for years. Do they really want a future employer to find pictures of them falling down drunk? In my short time on Facebook I've even seen people having rows on there. Probably with people in the same room. Does the warning about washing dirty linen in public not apply any more?

My real quibble is with those who need to build a business presence on Facebook. I'm not talking about those who need to market directly on there, having trashed them a few paragraphs above, but those who would like others to know what they do and who have pride in what they do. I'm going to show you two friends who manage Facebook very well indeed:

Jane Hill - a stand-up comedian who entertains with witty status reports while letting FB friends know what she's up to

Paul Easton - the leader in his field of commentary on the radio industry who provides useful information to fellow radio peeps and find his friends are thrilled to bits when he modestly tells of his publishing achievements this week. Incidentally it's Paul who has helped me avoid some of the pitfalls.

I've linked to Jane's site and Paul's blog; I'm still not entirely sure how to link to FB pages ie how you do it when you're not a FB friend of theirs yet. There are many more mysteries ....

As for Twitter, I'm not keen. My life is far too boring to "tweet" about all day and should it ever become interesting I would hope it would be worthy of a broader canvas than however many characters Twitter allows. Short lines only encourage text speak which, as we all know, is a wrk of t dvl.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Hey, we're famous on Facebook

Dolly writes:

Mum's been working hard and doing anything to avoid working hard so she's been messing about on Facebook. She joined the Rabbits! group, naturally since the whole purpose of Facebook is to allow Rabbits to network across the globe. It's shame she added the embarrassing photo of me showing my undercarriage but - ha ha - there's already a comment about Molly having big feet.

Molly writes:

What's that? Who said I have big feet? Maybe we should go and have a look. See right for Mum's facebook badge ;-)