Wednesday, 7 December 2011
I knew that there was a double murder in Southport this week but the victims' names meant nothing to me and I paid little attention to the story. But when I opened the local free newspaper that dropped through the letterbox today I immediately recognised the younger woman as Angela, one of the checkout operators at the local Tesco. It's a very big store and has scores of men and women who operate the checkouts but we always look for a familiar face and are prepared to wait for an operator who we know will guarantee a friendly smile and a few minutes' conversation over the tedium of packing the groceries. There are perhaps four or five on the checkouts who are always worth an extra few minutes queueing and Angela Holgate was one of them. Always polite, efficient and friendly and prepared to say 'hello' when we passed in the street, she was a person at the periphery of our lives. We didn't know her in any capacity other than someone who scanned our shopping. But she was someone who made that weekly chore a pleasant and friendly experience and treated us as customers rather than just another trolley to scan. Her premature and violent death is a very sad and tragic reminder of the fragility of life.
We can't wait to see our granddaughter Rose tomorrow. Fortunately she has yet to encounter the horrible world that can snuff life out so needlessly and hopefully it will be many years before she understands such horrors of 21st century living. Our daughter Sarah is travelling down from Leuchars to Preston and we've got a whole four days with them before they have to head back to Scotland. Sadly Duncan can't make it this time but we hope to see him in the New Year.
I see the payroll loan companies are in the news again today. There was a bloke on Radio 4 this morning attempting to justify their enormous interest rates. But there is no way that you can justify charging somebody £50 to borrow £100 for two months. It means that if the lender started with £100 and lent it out on 1st Jan, on 1st March they would have £150. If they continued to roll up the loan (or lend it to another borrower), on 1st June they would have £225, on 1st August they would have £337.50, on 1st November £506.25 and at the end of the year £759.37. This is an annual interest rate of 659%. Now I don't know about you but if I could get 5% interest on our savings at the moment I would be quite happy. That means that my £100 would be worth £105 on 31st December compared to £759.37 "earned" by the payroll loan company. So are the payroll loan companies respectable or are they simply loan sharks under another name? I'll let you decide.
We saw Hugo on our Orange Wednesday trip to Vue today. Although it's classified U, this is not a childrens' film. Filmed in (for once) spectacular 3D it is a magical story of a young orphan who lives amongst a labyrinth of clocks in a Paris railway station. It is very much a film buff's film with director Martin Scorcese playing homage to the early days of moving pictures in a whimsical tale of a boy, a girl, an old man and the boy's father who are all connected to a wonderful mechanical automaton. Sacha Baron Cohen adds a touch of comedy as a Railway Inspector cum child catcher and Chloe Moretz adds yet another fine performance to her already impressive CV. She's only fourteen but has already stolen three big films. As I said on an earlier blog, the most impressive child actor since Jodie Foster.