Monthly Archives: November 2011

An outdated institution?

Marriage may be “for better or worse, till death us do part” in the words of the Book of Common Prayer but it seems that fewer and fewer of us believe those traditional words to hold true.

Marriage rates in the UK are at an all time low, with 4 out of 10 of those marriages expected to end in divorce. And getting a divorce is becoming easier too – with advent of “cyber divorce” a marriage can be history in the click of a mouse.

It seems the institution of marriage may be in crisis. It is a trend that is worrying church leaders, prompting the Church of England to publish its own rescue plan.  The Archbishop of Canterbury says the consumer culture has contributed to the breakdown of marriage, that people are encouraged to believe “there will always be something better, faster, shinier just around the corner”.

But is marriage really the cornerstone of a stable society?

The Prince of Wales, Nelson Mandela, the person next door – divorce is everywhere. But does divorce really lead to social breakdown? Is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage “for the sake of the children”?

Is it realistic to expect two people to live together for a lifetime? Or do you think that a throwaway culture is to blame for the increasing number of marriage breakdowns?

Or, like me, did you just get married to the wrong person?  29 years ago this month I got married and for me, thankfully, divorce was the best thing to happen in that relationship.  I was too young, to naive and too stubborn to listen to the advice I was being given – perhaps a written test, not dissimilar to a driving test, should be introduced to ensure that the reasons for marrying are centred around wanting to spend the rest of your life with that person and not to stay with them for “as long as it lasts”. 

Blonde on an escalator – no, it’s not me!

6 months – thank you!

Lest we forget

11th November is a very important date.  It’s my birthday – woo hoo!!!

But seriously and more importantly, it is Armistice Day – the day which commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

In many parts of the world, people take a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. local time as a sign of respect for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war.  In the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. After the end of World War II, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The change was made in many Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day.

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields”. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

After initially forbidding the England football team from wearing an embroidered poppy on their jerseys during their match against Spain at Wembley Stadium on 12 November 2011, FIFA eventually agreed that the team could wear the poppy on armbands instead. It is also hoped that the Scotland team are able to wear poppies on black armbands when they tackle Cyprus in their international friendly in Larnaca tonight.  Let us hope that common sense prevails!

All is not what it seems

London 2012 organisers have been forced to apologise for airbrushing the historic World War II ship HMS Belfast from an official poster depicting the capital’s skyline.  Games organisers said it was “a simple mistake in the advertising production process” for London 2012 Festival.   The ship, which served in both World War II and the Korean War, has been moored near Tower Bridge since 1971.

A London 2012 spokesman said: “HMS Belfast was unfortunately excluded from one of the seven adverts for the London 2012 Festival.  “We are very sorry about this – it was a simple mistake in the advertising production process, and we apologise if this mistake has caused offence.  The mistake has been rectified and posters without HMS Belfast in are being removed.”

One of my own personal favourite Photoshop blunders is this one – how on earth did this manage to get past quality control???


Scotrail Update

On a final note regarding my Scotrail “incident” a few weeks ago – here is the response I’ve received from Customer Relations today:

“Dear Ms Heywood

Thank you for your email dated 18 October 2011. I am sorry that you have had cause to complain.

On most routes we offer a combination of fares being an Anytime single, Anytime return and Off-Peak return. On the Edinburgh/Glasgow route the Off-peak return fare has been reduced to less than the Anytime single and as a result it has created an Off-Peak single fare which is only 10p less expensive than the return. The Off-Peak return fare was reduced to less than the Anytime single to try and encourage passengers to travel at Off-Peak times. The Off-Peak single is an anomaly in the system and cannot be removed.

I understand that on this occasion you purchased a single fare instead of a return, and although I appreciate that the similarity in fares may cause some confusion when ‘rushing’ to buy your ticket it is the customer responsibility to ensure that they have left enough time to purchase their tickets, and that the ticket they have bought is valid for the journey they wish to make.

I also note that you tried to upgrade your ticket at Haymarket station. Since you were no longer in possession of your outward ticket it was not possible to change or upgrade your ticket. I can only add that the member of staff who did eventually upgrade your ticket was actually acting out with ScotRail policies and should not have carried out your request. Any ticket for 10p issued without the outward single ticket would generally not be valid for travel.

On a separate matter, I notice that we have not responded to your comments within 7 working days. I apologise for this delay and am happy to inform you that you are entitled to a Rail Travel Voucher for £5.00, in accordance with the conditions set out in our Passengers’ Charter. The voucher can be redeemed for tickets with any UK domestic Train Operating Company within the next 12 months. In order for us to send this to you, we will require that you reply to this email with your postal address and quoting the reference number above.

Thank you for contacting ScotRail.”


Note to self – must read this Passengers’ Charter that they refer to – wasn’t expecting the £5 voucher – this might actually get me almost half way to Edinburgh next time I need to go!!!

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