Return to the current edition of "Anne's View" Click here.

Who is Anne Debondt? - "Suddenly" Anne's New Book..!

Previous Anne's View 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999

To contact Anne, please e-mail :

The Archive 2002

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt (Jan 2nd)

I was asked a brilliant question the other day - although my other half has a different opinion about the "brilliance" of the query. We were on our way to the car and he has rules about what subjects we discuss while confined in such close quarters. This quickly became another banned topic - right before the mother-in-law and just after the kids!

Anyway, I was asked what 10 things annoy me most and how I would change them. After careful consideration and a lot of eye rolling and uncooperative silence from the husband, I came up with my list.

1. I would like all newsagents to position a bin at the newsstand so that I may empty my newspapers, magazines and periodicals of the annoying bumph stuffed in between their pages before I take them home. Furthermore the unread bumph could be recycled. Although it would probably just end up being reproduced into more unread bumph....
2. I would like to stop shopkeepers from putting the price tag on the bottom of a breakable item, thus forcing the customer to needlessly handle the merchandise. Really, how irrational is that? I'm especially annoyed with this practise when sitting on the shelf alongside the item is a sign that reads, "All breakages must be paid for." Just to be ornery I place that sign under the thing at risk from us "touchers". Well, two can play at that game!
3. I would like just once to get into a queue where the person at the front isn't choosing the moment their goods are tallied to fish out their method of payment. I mean, come on, it's not as though the person ahead of them didn't do exactly the same thing giving us all ample time to choose how we're going to pay.
4. I would like people with umbrellas to either walk on stilts or crawl along the pavement. I've lost count of the times I've been pierced in the head by a thoughtless pedestrian with a rainfall attack weapon. Or better yet, wear a hat!
5. I would like the individuals who continue to leave brochures and catalogues at my front door, despite my repeatedly asking them not to, to see complaint number 1 as to my instructions for annoying bumph. These things most definitely qualify as annoying bumph.
6. I would like our elected government to remember who hired them in the first place. I would like them to keep a list of their election promises handy and refer to it from time to time just so that they're reminded of what they are supposed to be doing. And remember whose money they're spending.
7. I would like to see our schools given the same priority and advantages as asylum seeker's residences.
8. I would like to see asylum seekers residences given the priority of asylum seeker's residences.
9. I would like to see the elderly of this country given the respect and consideration they deserve by the nation they made sacrifices for and by the government they voted into office.
10. I would like our police officers, paramedics and fire-fighters to earn a salary that reflects the exceptional work they do. After all, they perform a task that we "civilians" hope to god we never have to. I for one wouldn't even begin to know how to pull a body out of the flames, police a risky situation or provide medical treatment to the critically injured. Life is invaluable and they save ours every day. What price should the government put on this?

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt (New Year's article Dec. 26th)

First, let me begin my New Year's article by thanking Charlie of Co. Durham for the lovely 2003 calendar he sent to me and the interesting newspaper clippings that accompanied it. And I would also like to take this opportunity to relay to Charlie that the grand total of full cups of coffee noted on last year's calendar was an impressive 113. I actually circled the dates I was served a full-up cuppa as Charlie suggested. Unfortunately I omitted to make note of the less than full cups so that I had a truer study. Rest assured I will be doing both throughout this year.
Lastly, may I add that the calendar makes me want to visit Co. Durham. The pictures and scenes are beautiful. Thank you again Charlie.

The concept of making a New Year's resolution has always baffled me. I can never understand giving up something that you obviously want to do or you wouldn't be doing it in the first place. And really, we are allowed the occasional digression. It's one of the perks of being an adult.
Gone are the days where we are told to eat our greens, stand up straight, say please and thank you or behave in a certain way when in certain company. Hell, why move out of our parent's home if we're just going to implement the same restrictions as they did?
I know a woman who's gone on a diet every January 1st for the past five years. And by each June she's still no lighter and making the same excuses for her failure as she did the year before.
Why? I keep telling her that if she's so hell bent on making a resolution that she'd be better off to begin doing something fun rather than trying (unsuccessfully) to stop doing something grudgingly! I advise her: resolve to spend every Friday night out with her friends. By June she'd be a screaming success.
And the number of people I know who try to quit smoking after Christmas is uncountable. Here's my theory ... if cancer doesn't scare you in May, chances are it's not going to scare you anymore come January! You should quit because it will kill you. Period!
Honestly, no matter how long I thought about it, I couldn't come up with anything that I am willing to sacrifice or able to deny myself. If I smoked, over drank or gambled it would be easy. But as it is, I don't. And I am quite happy with my ever-expanding girth and the fact that I still haven't bungee-jumped off the Forth Bridge.
Furthermore, I can say with unbridled certainty that I also won't be hang-gliding, running the London marathon or climbing some lofty, ice-capped mountain as a New Year's resolution, simply because of my advancing years or the fact that those activities are now Zimmer-frame friendly!
At my age I am entitled to and happily embrace my limitations. And if I was going to give up anything it would be to stop caring so much whether the house is dust free or the carpets and floors look as though we share our residence with cattle! You see, guaranteed success. What a great way to start the New Year.
And a very Happy New Year to all.


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt (Christmas article Dec.19th)

It's that time of year again. The time of year where I defrost an assortment of Saint Sarah Lee's deserts and pop the store-bought mince pies out of their cosy little containers and into the oven for a hasty warming. Incidentally, you'd be surprised at how many people ask if I've made them myself due to the appetising aroma wafting about the house when I do this. It always produces a hysterical laughing fit from any member of the household who happens to be within earshot of the question too.

To them it'd be like asking if I painted the Van Gough print hanging over the fireplace!

And I am overcoming a past distress and decanting a mixture of fancy chocolates into a bowl intended for visitors this year. I had stopped doing this when I was tempted to eat them all and never manage to have any left when we did entertain guests. This tradition came to an abrupt end a few years ago when my other half dared to enquire where all the recently purchased chocolates had gone (in front of the guests, I might add). We haven't had chocolates since.

As for the festive feast, that's all under control too as the deBondt clan will once again be partaking of it at a well known local restaurant where staff not only serve the food, they thoughtfully wash the dishes afterwards - all included. Needless to say, I have keenly investigated the full cup of coffee situation and am happy to report that I have been guaranteed satisfaction.

It has become somewhat of a family tradition now since the kids are old enough to lodge complaints about my cooking that we eat out instead of at home. When they were tiny tots they quite appreciated my failings in the kitchen area ... unsavoury food and burnt offerings meant they could get down from the table sooner and play with their Christmas bounty. They cared not a jot about what should have been turkey and trimmings and pies and tarts.

But somewhere along the way they began insisting things look and taste as they saw evidence of on television ads or in friend's homes. That's when we relented and began booking instead of cooking.
I was bought a new-fangled microwave last year to try and improve my culinary situation (the family pooled their resources and this is what they came up with as a ¿birthday present, I repaid their selfless benevolence by buying each of them a battery operated toothbrush. They got the hint, this year I received jewellery!)

But I still haven't come to grips with the blessed contraption. Although to be fair, my lack of aptitude here is more due to the fact that the digital display screen has a mind of its own and refuses to cooperate. I get more caution and warning alarms while I'm trying to programme a setting than NASA does when it's trying to land the space shuttle! My family think my protests are just a ploy to avoid cooking yet again - I can't imagine why they'd think that when I've never had the least problem admitting that I don't want to use the cooker despite it also being relatively new and showing no signs of a defect.

Evidently, according to HRH the mother-in-law, I have the Rolls Royce of cookers which would produce fabulous foods and magnificent meals - she only just stops short of pointing out that I would know this if I ever used it for anything other than the clock!

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Before I have even popped a store-bought mince pie into my mouth I am being advised as to how to lose my unsightly weight leading up to the Christmas merriment so that I can fit into my festive frock. And in the same breath, how to shed the inevitable pounds I will gain afterwards so that I can fit into my not so festive usual attire.

Not that I ever heed this sort of guidance - I can't remember the last time I purchased a party dress or wore one, for that matter - but there's something distasteful about being treated as though your waistline is just another purchase item on the commercial Christmas list!

For days (it seems more like weeks) we've been barraged by media coverage of the Miss Universe contestants. The fact that they can walk and chew gum seems to merit page after page of reporting. The fact that they perform such fetes while wearing stiletto heals and a smile is evidently remarkable!

All I can say is t hat it's worth having the 91 contest here just to have it over with. God forbid the organisers are forced to schlep their camera-hungry models off to yet another destination, delaying the closing moments of the pageant even further!

Now, it's only right that I acknowledge I have never even come close to taking part in such a competition, and nor would I want to such is my aversion to this sort of thing. So, although my opinions are rather harsh, they aren't just a load of sour grapes.

In the year 2002 - closer to 2003 - can we really still be entertained by single women parading up and down the catwalk in tune to music with their bodies stuffed into itsy bitsy, teeny weenie bikinis, spouting chapter and verse about good causes? I mean, are we really still fooled by their pretending to be concerned about environmental or humanitarian issues when they use all that silicone and botox to look the way they do? Hell, if they want to make a positive impact on the ecosystem or the depletion of the ozone layer, forget rhetoric and cheesy smiles, just cut back on the hair spray!

I'm convinced that the only people still stubbornly enthusiastic about the degrading pageantry are family members of the pretty young things and the pretty young things themselves. Ok, maybe a few judges too.

And what's it all for anyway? What does the winner actually get? A crown she has to return, a sash she can't wear anywhere else and a bunch of flowers that last just about as long as the botox injections. Oh yes ... and then there's the useless title, the privilege of opening grocery stores and her body measurements broadcast around the world!

And in case there are a few readers who think I'm just being bitchy and insensitive for the sake of it... can you recall the name and nationality of last year's winner..?
No, neither can I or anyone else I asked.

And just when you thought I wasn't going to mention the fire-fighter's strike...

It's odd that President Blair warns us of having to cough up an extra £1,500 a year to cover the fire-fighters wages should he cave in and give them what they are asking for.

But that threat poses an interesting question ...

I wonder what it cost taxpayers when MP's awarded themselves a 40 percent pay hike last year! Or, if it cost us nothing, how'd he manage it then but not now? I'm just asking....

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Just a word about the fire-fighter's strike ... it's ironic that our elected government who get a personal expense account worth more than most people earn (fire-fighters included) on top of their generous salary, have the audacity to state that they won't be blackmailed into wage negotiations! All right for some, eh?

Let me set the scene for you ...
... there I was casually watching the incessant news coverage of Paul Burrell and his version of the "Diana Years" - incidentally, for a man who was going to take his story with him to the grave out of respect for his beloved boss, he sure pieced a doozy together quick enough once his trial was over.

I mean, I may write for a living but I'm pretty certain I couldn't have chronicled several years of love, devotion, intrigue, back-stabbing and disappointment into a book in that amount of time! Makes me think it might have already been written and just waiting for the right opportunity.
Anyway, I digress...

So, there I was watching yet another bulletin concerning the Royal household and its shenanigans when my daughter inadvertently switched the channel. I instantly began to protest her insolence when something caught my eye and made me cease my objections mid moan.

It was a satellite music station she had chosen and on the screen was the grungiest, most sluttish looking woman I have ever seen in my life, dressed in nothing more than a thong, riding chaffs and a bikini top. And as though a thong, riding chaffs and a bikini top weren't an absurd enough combination - something tells me this lass hasn't spent much time on a horse - her hair (more like her hair extensions) were braided in a million stringy ropes and long enough to sit on - which again, makes the choice of a thong and riding chaffs rather illogical.

Furthermore, the female songstress was gyrating her barely covered wobbly bits to music in a way that made me blush! It crossed my mind what her parents must think of their little girl and her pseudo-sexual carrying on. Although no matter how proud they pretend to be, I'm sure it's a video that won't be shown to faint hearted family members.

Presumably the song is about fighting dirty because there were muddy mud wrestlers in the background, two she devils sparring in a boxing ring and a bandanna clad rapper throwing his arms about menacingly. "Dirrty" posted at the end of the non-Disney melody is the title. And no, that isn't a typing error. I mean, in that get up it wasn't going to be "Twinkle twinkle little star"!

As disgusted as I was by the performance I couldn't turn away from it. I followed the entire number with my mouth open. I suspect that that's what today's music is all about, not so much talent as shock value. And youths don't so much listen to music these days as survive it.
If that's entertainment no wonder Burrell's book is selling!

Is it just a coincidence that in the same week we are informed of an effort to have eateries divulge the calorie content of their food items, McDonalds has to close up a few shops?

Is it too much to hope that Cambridge is chosen as one of the towns to lose its McDonalds? Or perhaps it's just good timing on the part of the fast-food chain as soon it is bound to be law that patrons are to be informed if what they are eating is in fact food at all!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I have an American disposition. And despite that I have lived in England for more years than I did in the USA, I will always be a Yank through and through.

But, that said, each time I return home for a family gathering (as I have just done) I am made more and more aware of a transformation taking place from the homeland I left behind to the one I frequently visit.
And each time I arrive back here I feel more and more obligated to explain that we haven't always been high-fiving, back-slapping, good ole' boys.

For instance, I don't ever recall hearing as a child such undeserved, over enthusiastic support as I did last weekend at a local sports event. And I know I'm not alone in my confusion because the child being congratulated by the crowd for his less than meagre performance as though he had just won the World Series single handed looked just as baffled as I did. There seems to be this belief in the USA that if you constantly praise your child for their achievements - whether they've earned the praise or not - the children will feel good about themselves and become great successes in later life. Personally, I think it just makes them lazy. I mean, why try hard when you know a mediocre effort will produce a gushing applause from mom and dad?

Also, I was asked recently why the Americans refer to their baseball season's climax as the "World" Series when it's just the Americans playing the Americans, no worldly association at all. I always reply that it's because most Americans don't know they aren't the "World"!

Anyway, it would be even easier to believe that we all sing when we talk and that all females wave as though our four fingers are glued together and we can only make minute little movements so that it's barely obvious we are waving at all - this gesture is most effective when the hand is placed at the cheek accompanied by a cheesy grin.

Or a person could be forgiven for thinking we've always had round-the-clock shopping, dining and car repairs. Do you know that you can actually get your oil changed at four o'clock in the morning? I couldn't even find the car at four in the morning let alone decide it needs fresh oil.

And I absolutely don't recall ever having a waitress bug me five times during a meal when I dined out in my youth! During this last visit we all decided to go out to dinner and before we had even sorted the seating arrangements we were being bombarded by a waitress tagged Debbee (don't get me started on the name spelling thing), asking more questions than an interrogation team. I had less conversation with the people at the table. I ordered a simple salad and then practically had to fill out a sworn statement before she'd bring it to me. In the end I was tempted to tell Debbee to just throw some lettuce in a bowl and I'd slice up the tomatoes myself!

The America I came from was much less in your face. It was far more demure and nothing like the fast paced, multi-choiced, well meaning Mecca you see on TV programmes today. It's an absurd situation to be in where you don't fit in with your own people. I have nothing in common with them except an ability to complain.

I suppose in future I will be forced to describe myself as the nationality formally known as American.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I had hardly recovered from the image of John Major and the reprehensible Edwina Currie in a love tryst thanks to her hideously over hyped book (did it never occur to the dim-witted woman that the public didn't need her to set the record straight? That a large majority of us were quite happy with that particular record sitting askew!)

But then Bill Clinton and his ego show up at the Labour Party Conference to do an inadequate imitation of a concerned civilian - I especially enjoyed his common man eats at McDonald's performance - and I reinstated my boycott on all news programmes until the nonsense blew over.

Tony Blair employing former president Bill Clinton to bolster his party's enthusiasm smacks of desperation. The day a philandering louse is an asset to your organisation, it's time to throw in the towel.

And far from Ms. Currie seeming the scorned yet respectable mistress for her revelations, she has quite contrarily revealed herself as nothing more than a sad, middle aged woman whose purpose is in doubt and who must now rely on her disrespect instead of talent to earn her a living.

Is it me or is there an unmistakable connection between the soulless tart and the tactless Ms. Currie?

There's something condescending about household cleaning products that have been impregnated with aromatic health ingredients. You know, washing up liquid with tea tree and peppermint in the mixture, lemon zest in toilet bowl cleansers or calming fragrances in laundry detergents.

It's bad enough that I have to perform the chores in the first place. But to think that a whiff of perfume is somehow meant to speed up the process is just adding insult to injury.

I mean, the brains behind this advertisement strategy completely missed the boat. Wouldn't it be better if toilet bowls were self-cleaning, not just lemony? Or disposable clothes more readily available, not merely sweet-smelling. I don't need the water to be perfumed and medicated in order to feel good about washing the dishes, I need the water to be clever enough to wash the dishes unaided!

Only a person who wouldn't know the difference between a toilet brush and a j-cloth would think that by improving the smell of the job, the job was more enjoyable!

As well as getting myself in a lather over my domestic situation, I am in an even bigger frenzy due to my highly talented, ever accessible and much venerated hairdresser announcing that she is expecting a baby!

Not that I'm not ecstatic for Liz of Clipso's in Ely. Or that I don't wish her the absolute best for herself, her husband and their newborn child.

But let's be fair ... who's' going to crimp my coiffure while she's away on maternity leave?
I tolerated not being told where my favourite stylist honeymooned a few years ago lest I became frustrated with a fringe crisis and invaded her privacy. But is it asking too much that I be told where the little un' is to be born just in case there's time in between contractions for her to give me a quick trim, if needed?

Failing that, you'd think the least Liz could do is name the child Anne in honour of the sacrifice I am being forced to make!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

It has long been established that I am the queen of complaint. What's more, I believe I fully deserve the title...

For instance, last weekend I was trapped in yet another unnecessarily long queue and was beside myself with frustration and irritation at the slow and incompetent pace of the cashier - complicated by the fact that a few customers were also behaving as though they had porridge for brains.

It was bad enough that the gal behind the till knew the customer and chose that moment to discuss her recent holiday at length while the rest of us were quickly losing the will to live. But worse, the customer realised at the end of the transaction that she'd forgotten another item and unbelievably held up the queue again while she went in search of it.

That's when it dawned on me that the answer to all my prayers was quite simple and had been staring me in the face all the time...

What retail premises, restaurants and such like need is a queue organiser.

I'll explain:

An overseer or controller at the front of the line could methodically conduct the customers, cashiers and anyone else holding things up. They could instruct the approaching punter when it's time to have their method of payment ready or at least dug out from the bowels of their handbag - this is another delay that drives me to insanity. I mean, it's as if it comes as a surprise to these ditherers that their goods have to be paid for. I want to scream from wherever I am in the line, "What were you going to pay with, a smile?"

And an overseer would be responsible for spotting an impending difficulty, thus enabling him or her to quickly rectify it before things ground to a halt. You know, he or she'd say something like ... ok, you've dragged the stupid thing past the scanner six times, punch in the damn numbers, would ya!
Or they would have the authority to halt the time-consuming gabbing between customer and cashier if it began to interfere with the flow!

The queue controller would have to be quick-thinking, rude if the situation required it and a first class trouble shooter. But I truly believe these people are out there...
Hell, I've been doing it for years, for free!

...and while we're on the subject of complaints, I heard a doozey while in an Ely florist last week that threatened to snatch my title.

From what I could gather, the customer's grievance was that an assortment of anniversary flowers she'd taken delivery of didn't match her lounge furnishings!

Apparently her hapless husband had ordered them without ensuring that they'd harmonize with the household!

Now, I'm no one to throw stones, but even I had to choke on that one. How this woman expected the florists to know the colour scheme of her lounge - or, in fact, that she'd even be putting the flowers in the lounge, I still can't fathom.

Even though I had already made my purchase, I stayed to hear the outcome of the tête-à-tête because I wanted to relate the happenings to my other half.

He often says I invent things to whinge about. That if I don't have a reason to bellyache I'll create one....
Yeah, that may be, but at least he isn't married to someone who expects him to colour coordinate my birthday bouquet with the couch! It's proof that there are worse things in life than being married to me!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Of all the so called free, get-rich-quick schemes I get delivered through my door - the chance at winning a stupendous sum of money, winning lottery numbers, offers to pay my entire mortgage - the one that really insults my intelligence is when I'm offered the chance of a two week stay in a luxury house or cottage as a prize!

How can that be appealing to anyone? I mean, I can barley stand to visit a stately home or castle for an afternoon without holding a grudge, a fortnight in one would just be dangerous.

Without wishing to offend, let's be honest, anyone desperate enough to take the gamble isn't already living in a palace. So it's a safe assumption that a two week stopover anywhere affluent-like would be a step up the accommodation ladder. But therein lies the problem.

How do you go back to your meagre existence without a hint of disappointment?
Forget two weeks, two hours of having staff and finery around me and then having to trundle off back to my humble abode and I'd be impossible to live with for the rest of my husband's life!

We live in a world of contradictions. Speed limits are legally enforced on the roads despite that cars are manufactured to go twice, and in some cases three, times faster.

Minors are made to wait until they reach a certain age before partaking of harmful alcohol or cigarettes yet they can witness realistic murder and mass destruction as entertainment, either in a computer game or in movies, a year before they are considered legally sensible enough to inflict cancer or alcoholism on themselves.

Adults are not permitted to purchase more than two packs of aspirin at a time or alcohol before noon on Sundays. Clearly it's the third pack that's a danger and somewhere in the country morning drinking was getting out of control therefore we've lost the right to manage such choices ourselves.
Furthermore, we are instructed when it's safe to cross a busy road and when not to cross -the fact that you can see whether or not a car is coming is insufficient grounds to walk or don't walk!

These are just a few examples of compulsory rules and regulations that are forced on us because the powers that be feel we need idiot-laws when it comes to immoderation, the risk of ill health, welfare or safety.

But where's this nannying intervention when it comes to enacting a law that prevents a shameful rallying of support for a terrorist leader? How can we not be trusted to cross the road without government supervision yet the same government feels no supervision is necessary when it comes to a public meeting inciting agitation, national hatred and treason?

Drinkers are made to drink to an absurd schedule to avoid becoming alcoholics in the morning. Aspirin takers are treated like junkies supposedly for their own good and children can watch someone die a horrid, violent death, they just can't drink or smoke while they're watching it.

Yet in spite of the apparent significance placed on human life, Gunther von Hagen's sickening display of deceased individuals infused with plastic and in an assortment of animated poses shouldn't worry us too much because he's allowed to call his disrespectful use of the dead art!

In short, the government has powers to stop us harming ourselves ... they just don't seem to care much if we offend, endanger or inflict our stupidity on our fellow man!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

What is the world coming to when a parent has to shield their young from furniture advertising for fear of exposing them to illicit material?

Not that my offspring are of an age where I need to worry about this sort of thing but I know of a few households that would have been (and probably were) flabbergasted by a sofa catalogue delivered to them without the least concern that their children might see the salacious booklet first.

I'm talking about the unsolicited "Sexy Sofa" brochure dropped through my door last week where a set of red painted puckered lips imitated the o in the word sofa across the front page.
The suggestiveness was to get worse. Page one pictured a little leather number surrounded by hundreds of lit candles and subdued lighting. Page two revealed an odd shaped red couch with a painting in the background of a woman's face obviously in the throes of passion … and so on and so on.

But the last page took the cake. It was titled For Play and depicted another leather sofa (evidently leather is the Brad Pitt of couches) with a fluffy pink boa swathed across a table in the foreground and a pair of similarly fluffy pink handcuffs draped on the seat of the sofa.

Maybe it's because my grandmother always covered her beloved furniture with plastic in case her grandchildren stained it with fizzy drinks or bits of biscuits. We never knew if she lived with the slippery coverings all year round or just put them on for our visits.

Or perhaps my bewilderment is due to the fact that there were five of us children in our household and the lounge was off limits to us because we'd just as likely jump on the furniture as sit on it.
But whatever the reason I can not for the life of me see how a couch can inspire a sexy atmosphere as implied by this latest advertising nonsense.

Although, if the advertisers are hinting at what I think they are, my grandmother was ahead of her time with the plastic protection!

It's a well documented fact that I am not an energetic person. I complain bitterly if I have to walk more than half a mile in any direction, no matter what the purpose of the outing is.

So I am aware that my subsequent comments might seem a tad inexpert...

But some sportspeople are arrogant. It's as if they think their chosen physical activity takes precedence over everything else all because they have a goal to achieve!

Last Sunday while motoring our way into Cambridge we came upon a multitude of marathon runners causing quite a tailback of traffic on the small and already inadequate lanes around my neck of the woods.

Some runners were on the wrong side of the road, some were more strolling than running and others who were overtaking the foot-draggers were causing cars to swerve wide in order to avoid a collision. A marathon monitor positioned along the route even had the temerity to ask us to slow down for a few stragglers that had created a long traffic jam in the opposite direction and were threatening to do the same behind us.

I mean, we were already crawling along at less than three miles per hour ... any slower and we'd have been in reverse!

Considering the high price motorists have to pay to use the roads these days, wouldn't it have been wiser - if not more considerate - to organise the fun-run around the abundant sports fields in our area?

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I'm not one for anniversaries or special commemorations. Other than celebrating my children's birthdays, I can honestly say that I am content to allow a particular date to pass with nary a notice. An idiosyncrasy that has caused a few hurt feelings in the past, I can tell you.

Since my children are all young adults now and we don't attend church services, Christmas has been demoted to nothing more than the one day in the year where I actually use my cooker for something other than the kitchen clock.

And Mother's Day barely rates a mention since I am more inclined to want my brood to honour and respect me throughout the year … not just for one day of it!

Also, I genuinely have trouble recalling how old I am. Well really, what's the point in knowing your age when you are no longer required to show proof of it in order to obtain certain restricted items? It's enough that I am sufficiently wrinkled and haggard looking to qualify for all sorts of irresponsible behaviour without verification.

And the number of years I have been married is a mystery to me. Not that the fact that my other half has endured another year with me isn't worth some sort of reward but I figure that by letting him off the hook and not insisting he sit through a candle lit dinner where I complain about poor service and the inevitable half cup of coffee is a monumental gift in itself, there's no need to keep track of the numbers.
And should I be asked to relate the ages of my three children without sufficient warning I am forced to use the finger counting method and round up to the nearest ten!

My lack of attention to all things celebratory has nothing to do with not wanting to admit my age or a disinterest in my family. It's because I've always been too delighted that we're all still here with all our faculties in tact, how long we've been doing it seems irrelevant.

But Wednesday September 11th 2002 was a date that made me reconsider my apathy to anniversaries.

For the first time ever I deliberately recalled where I was and with whom on a day one year previous - a day that affected not just my family and me but also the entire world.

Quite by chance I was stuck in America amidst the horror. I had unwittingly flown on the targeted airlines headed towards the eventual destination exactly one week to the day prior to the events that could have seen me become a statistic. And on a more personal level, coincidently while all hell was breaking lose over here on home ground.

Wednesday I changed a habit of a lifetime and took a moment to appreciate what I have and how long it's been since I was given it all back.

Above all others this day will continue to merit my attention and respect. I will honour the day with quiet reflection and sadness for those less fortunate than myself indefinitely. Not because the encounter scared me into a self-interested gratefulness … more because my close shave obligates me to the many victims who can't.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I never knew I needed so much help or assistance when out shopping...
Yet a recent announcement gives me cause for doubt. Just to keep my facts straight I'll quote from the statement:

'Marks & Spencer is reportedly staking its reputation on technology that will tell customers when their clothes clash and invest heavily in microchips that will warn shoppers when food passes its sell-by date.
Once at home, the chip would inform the customer if the garment were accidentally put on the wrong washing machine cycle.
It is also hoped that the chips will warn customers when food has past its sell-by date.'

Now, the report doesn't make it clear as to whether these warnings will be verbal, illuminating or just discreet symbols but there are so many problems with the idea of having a micro-monitor in my clothes and food packaging that I don't even know where to begin!

Firstly, what if you intend for your garments to clash? Are the warning lights going to flash all day long, revealing to everyone else that you've miss-matched your outfit despite that it was intentional?
Secondly, what if you bought a skirt in an up to the minute, vogue and trendy colour and the chip is in last year's blouse? Can you appeal to the voice of doom or are you forced to defend yourself throughout the day?

Also, this wash cycle idea … like I need more criticism regarding my housework abilities! And what good would it do to tell you afterwards? The fact that the item of clothing used to be a bright yellow and is now dusky denim blue is proof enough. The last thing you need is the garment making fun of you. A memory chip that can separate the clothes into appropriate wash piles would be a better idea.

On the other hand, if the food expiry warnings come in the way of an illumination I'll save a bundle on light bulbs. My refrigerator will light up like a Christmas tree whenever the door is opened!

It was bad enough when some bright spark decided it would be a good idea for automobiles to come equipped with vocalised warnings about the lights being left on, the keys left in the ignition or seatbelts needing to be fastened. I rue the day. I've lost more arguments with dashboards than I have with my other half!

No, if Marks & Spencer's wants my business they'd do better to imbed a chip into their clothing that compliments me, no matter how diabolical my choice is. Something that remarks on the slimness of my hips - ignoring that the material is stretched beyond capacity - wouldn't go a miss either!
Or M&S might want to think about concocting a meal that instantly begins to cook once it's removed from the fridge and beeps when it's ready to serve. Now that's impressive.

Furthermore, this is a waste of technological intelligence. Most women already have a uncompromising domestic overseer. If she wants disparaging comments made about the state of her refrigerator or the colour coordination of her clothes she only has to invite the mother-in-law over for an afternoon.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Here we go again … no sooner are the GCSE results out, the criticizing begins. It's as inevitable as night following day.

Every year at this time a multitude of cynical old fogies attempts to ruin what should otherwise be a joyous moment by suggesting that today's students have gotten off light, that they only received such high grades and pass rates because the exams were so much easier than in previous years.

Of course the exams seem easier to those of you who've been working since before decimalisation. Incidentally, a driving test would also be a whole lot easier if the DVLA would allow you take it after being on the road for a few decades!

But the GCSE exams aren't intended to test the experienced, they're meant to assess the young school leavers just starting out in the world, the yet to be experienced. What test wouldn't be a breeze once you knew the answers?

Spiteful remarks about the exams only serve one purpose as far as I can tell - they allow the moaners one last opportunity to feel superior before they're replaced by the younger, fresher generation.
Congratulations to all the hard working, dedicated young adults who sat the exams and passed. Don't lose heart, there are just as many of us old fogies out here who recognize what you've achieved and praise your efforts.

And while on the subject of grades …
supposedly boys are not faring so well when it comes to exam results. Girls are said to be doing much better due to an anti-learning, laddish culture.

Apparently the fact that young men don't have creditable role models today is a major factor.
Now this accusation I'll allow without question.

You only have to look at the recent trial of a certain football trio to understand where it's all going wrong. I say recent but you could choose any day of any week and happen upon a similar story.
How many times do we read where a ludicrously overpaid sportsman has been given less than a slap on the wrist for his public outbursts or anti-social behaviour? When the likes of us less salaried, less worldly lot would surely have been dealt with much more forcefully.

How many times do we see serious personal fouls, punch-ups and verbal abuse within a seemingly innocent game of soccer? These offences are committed by players earning millions of pounds for little more than kicking a ball about a field.

How often do we hear of mega-rich rock stars and their tantrums when they don't get their own way?
Is it any wonder that there's no incentive for our boys to do better in school? Where's the motivation to hone anything other than their punching or shouting skills when all they see is proof that it isn't education that counts, it's arrogance and a complete disregard for respectability?

If we want future generations of young men to succeed, go forth with pride and prosper, perhaps we should stop treating violent, loudmouthed, thugs as though they were the second coming.

Maybe if an example were set whereby disreputable sportsman and entertainers lost all professional and financial backing for their insubordination, lads of today wouldn't be so eager to emulate them and might even be persuaded to pull up their socks.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Ok, this may be the only time I allow someone else the floor so make the most of it. But I just couldn't pass this up...

There is a dippy broad by the name of Karyn who considerably over-spent on her credit card to the tune of $20,000. Now it seems she's having trouble repaying the debt. Go figure! Perhaps she thought Father Christmas still delivered.

Anyway, she got it into her empty head that she could appeal to the kind hearted public for donations to help her out of the scrap. And there are actually folk doing it - to date she's received over $2,000!
But what's really prompted me to feature such nonsense in my article this week is an opposing website poking fun at her stupidity.

First go to - on the condition that you absolutely do not contribute and read the shameful begging!

Then go to and laugh your backsides off!

For a minute there I thought Bob and Ben were stage names for Michael and Lee! If they aren't, these guys ought to be writing for the Ely and Newmarket websites!

In spite of the frightening thought that there are actually people in this world as unhinged as this, I still loved the news article that an obese American filed a multi-million dollar suit against fast food establishments such as McDonald's, Burger king and the likes for gratuitously encouraging him to stuff his face with their unhealthy grub, thus causing his much-expanded girth.

His complaint was that they unsympathetically enticed him without advance warning that their hamburgers, french fries and milk shakes wouldn't supply him with the nutritional value of a salad. You know, like he looked at the dripping beef patty and saw a carrot!

Unfortunately, I believe the case has been thrown out. I say unfortunately because I looked forward to reading further evidence of this guy's refusal to take personal responsibility.

Not that I don't sympathise with his dilemma. I mean, eating well versus eating fun has got to be a toughie - especially when you are surrounded by such temptation! Although one questions how he wasn't just as enticed by the equally available health food stores on his way to fry-heaven!

However I also know that this sort of nonsense promotes similar cases and I eagerly awaited the freak show! I suppose I'll just have to wait. But in the meantime, let me share a couple of my previous favourites:

A Nevada inmate sued when he ordered two jars of chunky peanut butter at the Nevada State Prison canteen and received one chunky and one creamy.

A lady was bowling and got a piece of popcorn caught in her shoe and during her approach, she lipped and fell. She sued for $50,000, claiming the alley was negligent for not putting up warnings about popcorn on the floor


Despite my frequent complaints and protests concerning retail facilities in our area, I am still, nevertheless, hell bent on supporting local enterprises.
In a determined way, I even manage to convince myself that my recommendations will improve things… you know, tough love and all that …

But HRH (the mother-in-law) and I found a new shop in Exning that would test even my ability to find fault. It's a unique little place called Classic Design Interiors, located on Oxford Street that offers the most superb selection of quality fabrics, ornaments and fine furnishings in all shapes and sizes.

I spent a leisurely afternoon browsing through their range of stock, chatting with Madje and Lesley (we were on a first name basis after two Bucks Fizz and a bowl of complimentary nibbles.) and genuinely enjoying each and every item on display.

The reason I mention this new establishment isn't so that I might receive special treatment or discounts from the gals upon my return, although they couldn't have been more helpful or accommodating during my initial visit.

No, I recommend them because I genuinely believe that if we support services within our area - providing they supply professional assistance, value for money and can offer adequate parking or access, our loyalty will encourage other quality concerns to set up shop in our neck of the woods - hopefully replacing the glut of penny bucket stores and never-ending charity shops.

So, here's to Madje Tabbron and Lesley Gillam, I hope you have a long and successful run. And thank you for a most enjoyable shopping experience.

Incidentally, should my recommendation inspire a reader to investigate this place, be sure to tell them Anne sent you - they're bound to remember the American who requested a peek at every sample book on their shelves on the hottest day of the year!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Whatever happened to 'loose lips sink ships'? Whatever happened to media blackouts during conflict or war? Whatever happened to national security?

Because if anyone beside myself, the other half and a few militants were listening to a recent news bulletin, they'll also know that the UK is ever so slightly unprepared for battle!

To be precise, a hard-hitting parliamentary report finds that: THE UK has failed to overhaul internal security since September 11 and is poorly equipped to deal with a similar attack.

Now, I don't plan on making the same mistake so I won't go into to any detail, I'll just say it was bad enough that the damning report didn't just inform all and sundry of our predicament, it went on to specify just how and where our military weaknesses lie - in minute detail, mind you!

Did it never occur to the blabbers that anyone with a third grade education will be able to deduce from the much-publicised findings that we are terrifyingly lacking in the combat department? Did it never occur to anyone that the enemy might find this information a tad encouraging? Or that it might be more prudent to keep this report quiet since it practically invites an attack?

Hell, forget high-tech software, expensive hardware or military intelligence. The extremists only have to walk into British newsagents and plot their next attack from the front page of a tabloid!

Not that this summer has provided us with much of an opportunity, but how can folk still sunbathe with all the information available to them concerning skin cancer, premature aging and sun strokes?

What else has to be made known before people stop frying themselves to death - either in this country or when travelling abroad?

I watched in astonishment as a never-ending queue of holidaymakers disembarked at the airport with what can only be described as over cooked complexions! Evidently not one of them had thought to take the factor 15 along on their hols. They all looked as though they had been dipped in brown paint.

I appreciate that the objective was to get as dark as possible before returning home, but how can they overlook the grave health risks just so that they can show off?

Proof that the ego-factor motivates them into mindless sun tanning is that, anyone who's lived in this country for more than two summers, knows that a bikini top and shorts is never going to be warm enough even in the middle of July. Yet at least three quarters of the gals - and some of the men, tiptoe past me wearing scanty attire as though they live in Barbados! Incidentally, I've always thought a coat salesman in the arrivals lounge would do a bomb in trade…

Sun worshipers must have an astounding ability to overlook the high price of their ignorance. Because the sunshine may well be free of charge, but it costs a fortune to repair.

It's been a while since I've complained about the service in this country, so I'm due…

Is it too much to ask that when there are more than ten people waiting in a queue, the store manager open another till?

It has to be the epitome of frustration to watch five employees stocking shelves while only one sits behind the register - ineptly.

Just recently I became so fed up with the idleness of one line that I approached a shelf stocker (who was also talented enough to be chatting to a friend at the same time) and handed him my goods. I suggested he might like to shelve them too!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I've never been fooled by the television adverts that depict women with flawless complexions, silky smooth hair or rake thin bodies professing that some wonder-product gave them the kit.

In other words, I've always known that a striking model was chosen to promote a certain skin care cream due to her already perfect skin tone. She didn't use the absurdly priced rejuvenating ointment and then become gorgeous, she was born that way.

Similarly I am aware that the lass tiptoeing about the beach in a skimpy bikini already had the ideal figure - the healthy cereal she's recommending, at best, just gives her an edge (if, in fact, she even eats it - or keeps it down). However, what does get up my nose about that particular ad is that this paragon of physique is usually cavorting about with a child or two as if not even gaining three stones in weight through pregnancy, per child would be a problem if one should partake of the cereal.
Yeah, right! Only if one of the ingredients is a laxative.

Furthermore the flaxen haired beauty that feels compelled to wash her hair in public was selected from thousands of equally well-tressed candidates because the makers of the cleansing product wanted her magnificent hair to characterize the merchandise, not the other way around!

But I allow the illusory advertisements to go unchallenged. Really, what harm can it do since most of us already know that the likes of Heather Locklear, Elizabeth Hurley or Kate Moss wouldn't know a bad hair day if it bit them on the bum - if they had one!

But I absolutely draw the line at being forced to encounter one of these impossibly attractive individuals in person.

Just recently I was at a department store in Newmarket in search of a face cream that eliminates wrinkles, smoothes out rugged complexions, moistens old skin and turns the clock back a decade or so without actually having those words written on the packaging, when I was approached by a stunning lass (who I'm convinced was no more than 12 years old) asking if I needed any assistance.

Now, it's bad enough that I have to use a magnifying mirror to apply my cosmetics these days. I mean, the magic potion is supposed to minimise my flaws only to have the mirror enlarge them, how cruel is that? Or that I'm at an age where I have to spend more money repairing the damage sleeping inflicts on my eyes than I did on schooling for the children, but to have to confess all this to a preschooler is just barefaced cheek - actually, I think her cheeks were bare...

Anyway, I tersely declined her offer of help. What could someone with perfect skin, beautiful hair and no more than a mere babe know about the ravages of time? What advise could she possibly give? Unscrewing the lid on the minute jar is about where she and I part company. Incidentally, is it me or are the containers getting smaller whilst the cost increases?

I want someone who's suffered. I want a woman capable of empathy not pity selling me the stuff. If I'm going to make the effort to look more appealing despite my advancing years, I want a middle-aged married woman, mother of five to counsel me. Someone with experience. A twenty something Barbie doll who thinks crows feet is a lucky charm is just insult to injury!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I'd like to take exception to the recent remarks made in the press about Ely. I'd like to set the record straight and say that I think it's a well thought out, futuristic accomplishment.

I'd like to point out that a lot of time and energy has gone into making Ely a city to be proud of. I'd like to say that non-charitable proprietors from far and wide are fighting to acquire one of the many available shops.
I'd like to draw attention to the many facilities and amenities in the city of Ely that leave neighbouring towns in the dark.

I'd like to say all these things…. But I can't.

I will however add something to the recent press review of Ely and its lack of soul:

Ely is the Cinderella of East Anglia. It only seems to get what didn't work, wasn't wanted or of no use to anywhere else.

Your turn Council!

You might recall my earlier comments concerning the amount of household waste my family and I produce each week. And how we almost have more refuse bags stacked at the end of our drive than is collected from the entire street!

We look as though we are continuously having a spring clear out.
One passer-by was even prompted to ask if I minded the refuse collectors stacking everyone's garbage on our property so that the lorry only has to make one stop, such was the height of one particular black mountain…

For a split second I contemplated owning up to the accumulation but just as instantly decided against it…instead I magnanimously offered that I didn't mind, that I'm only too happy to do my bit for the community - thank god personalised garbage bags never caught on in this country.
Anyway, I mention this because, if true, a report in this morning's news means my mega-garbage situation is about to get a whole lot worse.

A proposition is to be considered this autumn that would mean households are to be charged £1.00 per bag over a certain number!

I tried not to panic. I took a deep breath and focused on the fact that no one mentioned anything about whether or not a homeowner would have the right of appeal. Nothing was said about dispensations being granted for exceptional circumstances. Like allowing for the fact that if manufacturers didn't package everything twelve times - for freshness, of course - we wouldn't have so many bags. Or that absolutely every product under the sun these days comes with at least one sheet of cardboard inserted into the goods, regardless if it's food, fabric or feathers.

But really, can you see the problem here? I'll be forced to make a midnight flit across the neighbourhood every Tuesday night to distribute my excessive bags, just to keep the bin-bill below a mortgage payment (again let me say how happy I am personalised garbage bags never caught on over here). Or haggle once a week with the dustmen, insisting that some unscrupulous, thoughtless neighbour deposited their overload of bags on my property (I think it's obvious the personalised garbage bag is a no-go).

And how will I pay, by credit card, personal cheque, Tescos club card points? Am I to be fined on the spot or billed each month along with the other utilities? Whichever method, it won't be cheap, I can tell you.

Forget saving for a holiday each year, if this comes to fruition, the other half and I will be forced to open a savings account just to afford being able to use our own driveway!

Anne's View

I often fly on long-haul journeys and can't think of a time when I wasn't seated next to someone who took up their own entire seat and at least a quarter of mine. Complaining to the stewardess about my discomfort makes no difference. I am always told that the plane is full. In short, I have to put up with it.

So you can imagine how elated I was when I read that an American airline was to start charging overweight people double the airfare should their measurements require them to occupy twice the amount of seating. I excitedly envisioned flights where I would be able to use both arm rests, drop my tray all the way down and go to the toilet without having to climb Mount Vesuvius to get there.

But as elated as I am about the long overdue ruling, I also braced myself for the inevitable lawsuit claiming that, by charging for extra ass space, fatties are being discriminated against. I mean, they give away extra legroom, don't they!

And I didn't have to wait long.

By the next day a large woman attempted to board her plane and was told at the ticket desk that she was obliged to pay twice as much due to her size. She immediately lodged a complaint and then tearfully faced the television cameras - which were coincidentally only a stone's throw away, just waiting for a chubby to turn up.

Amazing how this victim of unfairness overcame her humiliation enough to be interviewed on TV. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be penalised for being fat in front of only a few folk standing behind me in a queue - the worst they'll do is relate the story to their mildly interested friends…than to a large number of people watching the tube. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts the television audience was far less sympathetic than she had hoped.

And I'm equally as braced for the next chapter when, after booking via email or telephone, a sizeable person arrives at the check-in desk only to be told that they exceed the weight limit for a single seat price. Again, legal proceedings are definitely on the cards. As though the agent making the telecommunicated booking should have known by the voice or font that the customer was overweight!

But why do these people feel they are entitled to special treatment? Why should the likes of us smaller, less invasive citizens be forced to accommodate overeaters?

I'm not allowed to be disturbing or pushy, that would be considered antisocial behaviour. If I were to lay my head on the lap of a neighbouring passenger, so that I may travel more comfortably, regardless of how uncomfortable I made them, I dare say I would be instructed to remove myself
at once - while simultaneously being shoved to the floor! If I decided that I was entitled to sit with my legs draped across the adjacent passenger's lap, so as to avoid deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening ailment, I doubt I would be sitting next to anyone for much longer… I'd probably find myself restrained at the back of the plane with duct tape until the pilot could make a safe U-turn!

However someone's derrière is supposed to be less offensive? I am expected to tolerate only getting half the seat I paid for while they get two for the price of one?

Sadly it's to be expected that the ruling won't stick. There's bound to be such a hostile response from the big brigade that the airline will be forced to rescind its decision or face disruptive action.
But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the short-lived victory this gives the little people. And perhaps book a flight with the airline concerned just to experience what it's like to fly without losing the feeling down one side of my body.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

What on earth could pop idol Will Young have achieved in his few short years to warrant an autobiography? He hasn't even had a life yet forget merits writing about one!
Moreover, yeah, anything is possible when you're still living at home, barely out of short trousers and you don't even know how to spell the word mortgage, let alone have one.

Since I'll never read it, I'm forced to ask, what he filled the pages with, his nursery school drawings and a few teacher comments? Hell, my weekly grocery list would contain more suspense!
He was born, he went to school, he had acne, and he sang for a made-for-TV competition and questionably won.

I say questionably because everyone who ever appeared on the programme has now released an album or single, been offered lucrative recording and advertisement deals and travelled the country spreading their ability to cover archaic, long-forgotten songs - I fail to see the distinction in being the winner.

And, really, can there be an English speaking person left in the country who hasn't already read about everything from how he combs his hair to his sexual preferences or how he has his cornflakes of a morning?

Please! It's bad enough he pretends to sing… need he pretend to be interesting as well?

Unthinkably the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California ruled 2 to 1 to abolish the Pledge of Allegiance in schools in the United States due to the words "In God We Trust".
For those of you unfamiliar with what the Pledge of Allegiance is, it's a patriotic undertaking recited at the beginning of each day by students or civic workers as a way of focusing attention on one's obligation to country….

A self-righteous attempt to assert loyalty, some might say, but it worked for me!

Every day of my school life I either stood with my hand over my heart, reciting the verse along with my entire class or I stood in silence while the American anthem played.

I'll admit it was years before I completely understood what it was I was pledging my youthful allegiance to… but similar to saying prayers at a young age just because your parents tell you to, I eventually came to mean the words I delivered. And I can still say them now, even though it has been decades since I was encouraged to.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

This irrational action has come about because a father complained that his daughter is injured when forced to listen to public school teachers leading students daily in a pledge that includes the assertion that there is a God.

It wasn't enough that this man's daughter wasn't compelled to recite the words; a law had to be passed to protect her from even hearing them!

And my reason for mentioning this …

You may not think it relates to you and this country now. But let me remind you that what Americans wear, eat, think, say and do eventually end up a fashion, craze or trend over here.

Be prepared, in the near future, if this kind of thinking (and I use that word begrudgingly) catches on, we might find the expression God Save the Queen abolished. Or forced to remove all mention of God when singing the English National Anthem for fear it would offend a non-believer.

All I can say is … God help us!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Forget national pride in our World Cup football team. Ignore the money-wasting fracas surrounding President Blair and his media manipulating, ego massaging spin-doctors...
Suspend all interest in where Osama Bin Laden might be hanging his turban for the time being. Hell, even overlook that new research by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland suggests that mobile phones do cause brain tissue damage after all…

We've got a real news story on our hands. Just in case you missed the news flash, Stephen Bing has been confirmed as the father of Liz Hurley's baby boy, Damian. What a load off that is, huh!
And what's more, we didn't even have to wait to hear the results of the DNA test once it was in. We were informed as soon as (if not sooner) than Ms. Hurley was, thanks to the six o'clock news interrupting its scheduled item to notify us. And then, as if that wasn't accommodating enough, the national newspapers were full of any further minutia that might have developed in the twelve hours after the initial disclosure.
I don't know about you but the world and all it's troubles suddenly looks a finer place to live. Just knowing that the gal's gonna pocket a gazillion bucks a year for her lack of birth control awareness makes me all goose-pimply with delight!

Gee, I hope Ms. Hurley is saving the newspaper clippings for her youngster. When he's a little older he's bound to ask questions like; How did you and daddy meet? Whose idea was it to name me Damian? And, What does DNA stand for? …

Yup, its summer! Although, such is the fickleness of our weather, by the time you read this, you'll probably have gotten the woollies out and turned the rads back on…

But it isn't summer just because we finally had the traditional three consecutive weekdays of sunshine before temperatures predictably plunged at the weekend.

Nor because a motorist can't even go to the local Spar shop lately without finding themselves stuck behind a convoy of caravans. And not because our inconspicuous summertime has been launched by an onslaught of pesky gnats and thunder flies.

For it is the time-honoured airport workers, taxi drivers and baggage handlers going on strike - not to mention the logjam of travellers sleeping awkwardly upon their luggage in airport departure lounges - which tells me British summertime has arrived.

Such is the regularity of this inconvenience, travel services taking industrial action signals the end of spring, as sure as Christmas cards being sold in September signals the beginning of overindulgence.

Evidently we have refrigerator mountains developing in this country thanks to overzealous government ministers not reading the small print! Mountains, it has been predicted, that will take at least two years and forty million pounds to clear.

By the way, is that two years including any new additions or two years for this particular mountain and another two for every mountain thereafter?

It is advised that the CFC's contained in these domestic appliances are a problem to the atmosphere and therefore it is no longer legal to crush them or recycle them to poorer countries as we have done in the past. But this all-important section of the contract dealing with new disposal requirements somehow went unnoticed by the assigned minister and we are now saddled with ever increasing icebox heaps for infinity.
Not to fan the flames of dissension here, but is anybody else a little uneasy to think that the same government also negotiates contracts with world leaders concerning war, conflict and weaponry?

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I have never been to Las Vegas Nevada, USA, even though I lived practically a stones throw from "Sin City" throughout my entire youth. But I have heard the stories!
One common tale oft told by homecoming gamblers was that there are slot machines in the hotel rooms, public conveniences, and restaurants and even a few mounted on the exterior walls of non-gambling establishments - lest one should get the urge to gamble even when in an inconvenient location.
My first thought is … How sad that there are folk in this world that can't even go to the loo without having to chance their coins on the slots? Maybe that's where the saying, 'I'm just going to spend a penny', originated from!

Undoubtedly, if I were to ask a Las Vegas State official, I'd be told the purpose for the money abysses' sprouting up everywhere is that they are in keeping with the theme of the place. That they are merely positioned for the entertainment of tourists and guest with a few coins left in their pockets - no doubt, before returning home and filing for bankruptcy.

My reason for mentioning this is because I have noticed a worrying similarity with the placement of ATM's (automated teller machines) over here. Banks are increasingly making our money more available to us in more and more bizarre locations by supplying a hole-in-the-wall everywhere you go.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with the principal of being able to withdraw your loot when and if you decide you want it. After all, it's your loot! But am I alone in thinking that convenience and practicality aren't the only reasons behind these things being as abundant as the accommodating Vegas slot machines?
And wouldn't it be a lot easier to accept the 'convenience and practicality' theory if ATM's weren't located virtually on top of lottery tables, pubs, nightclubs and horse tracks. The fact that there's one outside the bookies more than makes my point.

Is it just a coincidence that banks choose to locate their ATM's at the site of the most addictive activities? Or is it, as I suspect, that we don't need much encouragement to overspend. And the banks, like the casino owners, want to be right there to profit from our bad habits!

What good will a new Transportation Secretary do when he'll only be churning out the old twaddle of his predecessor? What point is there in appointing a team to investigate the sinking NHS, when the conclusion will just be more governmental camouflage?

It is uncountable the times I have been stranded by our ever-decreasing train service. And a recent experience happened hot on the heels of having to endure the frustration of a slowly dying NHS.
One thought kept going through my mind while I suffered the inadequacies of both services…
Just once I'd like to avoid responsibility by sending President Blair an accompanying letter with my non-payment that states:

Dear Mr. Blair,

It is with great concern that I couldn't find the money in my family budget to put my outstanding debt to you and your government right. But rest assured my fellow indebted family members and I are working on a prompt resolution.
In addition, I have instructed my advisers to investigate ways to eliminate this from occurring again, I expect them to achieve a full and sound solution soon. I will be able to tell you more when I have had a chance to look over their findings.
For now, I expect you will just have to lump it!

Anne deBondt

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

What a shame there are troublemakers so lacking in self-control that they snap in half 37 beautiful and thriving trees in the Jubilee Gardens, because, undoubtedly, they were bored!

Fancy being so juvenile that you derive pleasure from killing the commemoration to our monarchy's service, because, unquestionably, you're an angry little oik with a big chip on your shoulders!

Conceive of, if you will, being such a mindless prat that regardless of the time and money spent on beautifying the area (and, no doubt, so that you can enjoy your sickening escapade being mentioned in the local press) breaking tree trunks gives you a thrill.

And what's an even bigger shame is that when, not if, the vandals (a much nicer adjective than the ones I used when I read about what happened) are caught, their little limbs won't be dealt with in the same way!

I delight in coming across absurd time saving gadgets, knick-knacks and convenience products. I used to frequently receive a catalogue through the door that had page after page of supposedly time saving devices that kept me rolling on the floor with laughter at the laziness of some folk.

Honest to goodness, there was a thingamajig that helped you locate your television remote control. Isn't enough that we don't have to leave the couch in order to change the channel, must we also spare ourselves the task of locating the gadget too? And then there's the cloth that contains its own polish! That particular gem had me screaming at the advertisement page, "Good God, what woman can't afford the time to spritz a little polish onto a cloth?"

I mean, you want my money, show me the duster with legs, an antenna for household grime, and we're talking!

It's a wonder my family ever allowed the booklet to be delivered in the first place, such was my verbal and often loud angst. But my amusement stopped all together when I complained about how the sender never collected the catalogues when they were supposed to…and consequently they stopped delivering it!
Nonetheless, I have to say, the absolute best examples of over indulgence and devices for the slothful come from the United States.

For instance, while perusing the shelves of an American grocery store I found self-milking cereal - just shake the carton vigorously and presto! What are you doing with your day that is so important you need to save that step?

Ready to use flannels impregnated with soap and lanolin so that you don't even need to dry off afterwards was another one. Yeah, that's what takes me so long to get ready, the towelling off! Then there was toothpaste and mouthwash all in one to spare one the exertion of gargling. And sewing needles pre threaded with your choice of coloured cotton (what, no button attached?).

So what, dare I ask, are we doing with all the time we have supposedly saved?

According to all the labour saving schemes I should be finished with my household chores, personal hygiene tasks and daily meals by 10 am, bearing in mind that I get up at 8:30. What's a person supposed to do with the rest of the day that's been freed up by such convenience?
If we're not careful, we'll end up with enough time on our hands to start missing the good old days when we were busy!

Just another reminder that the Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey will be holding their Royal memorabilia display this coming Sunday afternoon June 2nd, from 12:00 noon to 5pm.


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I always enjoy receiving letters from readers - even when they come in the form of complaints. It's nice to know my comments entertain folk. Or, even more sporting, give me an opportunity to have a good spar with an opposing reader on a particular topic.

But I have never enjoyed a letter more than the one sent by Ms. Elizabeth Rogers-Ross.
She wrote in reply to my article about how the sport of football is fast becoming a violent and undignified game - Ely Standard May 9th.

Well, little did I know that the sport has never been anything but an unruly and brutish pastime. Because it seems, according to the research so impressively done by Ms. Rogers-Ross, far from the crime waves, riots and mayhem of today being a new development, the game always stimulated the beast in man!

I'll quote from her letter to give you an idea of what I mean…

As stated by the Court Rolls for the early 15th century, which read: "fifteen men did play at ye football whereon bloodshed" These were local lads having a kick around with an inflated pig's bladder in the village street.
Ms. Rogers-Ross goes on to write that in eighteenth century Bath, surely the home of refinement and geniality, a football game was described as being "more like a battle than a game..!

In the same century a French traveller, observing the behaviour of the players and fans at a football match, wrote "They will break panes of glass and smash the windows of coaches and also knock you down without the slightest compunction; on the contrary, they will roar with laughter."

Given the popular concepts of life in Victorian Britain you would think that a game of football in the 1880's would have been an orderly affair. By that time football had become an organised spectators sport. However, the records of the Football Association show that, in the twenty years before the First World War, there were 254 incidents of disorderly behaviour, more than a dozen per session, in one East Midlands town alone!

And last of all, a private journal, written in 1903, records, "Once at a famous North country ground I saw and heard half a crowd of 20,000 turn upon a poor referee who had dome something distasteful…the spiteful yells, the torrent of abuse, the fierce brandishing of sticks and fists… made up a terrible picture of an English crowd."

…And here I thought it was just our generation of yobs, slobs and miscreants that ruined an otherwise civilised activity. Thank you Ms. Rogers-Ross for your most informative letter. Please write to me again should you ever come across further historical proof that "the good ole times" were perhaps more ole than good!

And while on the subject of my postbag … I'd like to take this opportunity to bring Charlie in Co. Durham up to date on the coffee situation. He kindly sent me a beautiful calendar at the beginning of the year so that I could keep track of the days I'm served a full cup of coffee. Unfortunately I've only been able to circle six dates so far.

One of them was just recently though at The Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey.
Incidentally, the Abbey will be staging a Special Royal Memorabilia display from 12:00 til 5:00 pm on the 2nd of June where excellent Victorian sponges, tea and full cups of coffee will be served. It is one of the nicest family outings in the area. I highly recommend a visit. Please be sure to tell them Anne sent you.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I'm certain that my opinion of former United States President Bill Clinton is a well-known fact given that I never had a kind word to say about him during his entire stint at the Whitehouse and often used this space to vent my utter contempt for the man.

However, since he is no longer chief button pusher, I have obligingly allowed him to go about his civilian shenanigans without a comment, derogatory or otherwise, from me, content in the knowledge that he reigns no more.

So you can imagine my alarm when I learned that Mr. Handyman (and I'm not talking about his adeptness with a spanner) and his entire entourage was visiting the very same hotel as I just recently.
I should have known something more than a common car jacking or street mugging was taking place when two police helicopters continuously buzzed overhead. I should have realised when spotting a throng of well-dressed grown-ups, adorning the sidewalks outside the hotel despite the blowing desert dirt and near 90-degree weather, that a lot more than a fancy shindig was taking place.

But I didn't. I happily went about my day visiting family and eating hotel food, quite unaware of the incessant fussing and babbling of the previously calm and sedate - yet efficient - staff.

I can be forgiven for overlooking the intensifying din because initially the hotel had been overflowing with a convention. I had already been subjected to endless bumping and dodging on my way to and from my room or out the front doors each day.

In fact, twice I had been mistaken for an attendee of the convention and almost shanghaied into the conference room before I was able to extract myself, persuading my captors that I was just an ordinary visitor, not a member of their fraternity…

But when I heard one waitress gush… "He's so taaaall. He's not at alllll like I expected him to be." And then go on to inform everyone within earshot that the staff had been instructed to speak only to Him if He speaks to them first, the escalated hubbub and excitement finally registered.

I couldn't imagine who could possibly command such esteem. Who could possibly be coming to this humble neck of the woods that required such reverence? I mean, I've seen my kinfolk get this excited over Bronco Bob and his rodeo horse before but he never warranted the 'don't speak til spoken to rule'!
This guy had to be special! Perhaps it was the Pope? Or Prince Charles doing his bit for the Queen's Jubilee. I wondered and then politely tapped the woman on the shoulder to ask.

"This is your lucky day", she squealed and then divulged the icon was Bill Clinton.
It most certainly wasn't my lucky day.

Instead of a dignitary for whom I could boast and brag about on my return home and maybe snap a picture or two of as proof of having actually met him, I was dismayed to learn that the sudden increase in security, the onslaught of rapidly available staff and a gathering of folk who would otherwise be dressed in trainers and T-shirts, yet turned out in their best bib and tucker in hopes of a glimpse, was none other than Bawdy Bill himself.

My lack of enthusiasm must have been apparent because the gushing waitress felt the need to elucidate, "You know, our President!" "Ex", I reminded her as I sulked off to my room.
I would rather it have been Bronco Bob's horse!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

All is not well. I mean really not well!

I read where refuse collectors - my friends will be pleased to see that I have yielded to their advice and have begun using the more politically correct term. I used to call them garbage men… I suppose it's an Americanism that I never saw the harm in until it was subtly pointed out that no one wants to be referred to as a garbage man, woman or person.

Anyway, these collectors of our unwanted bits and pieces are only working to rule now, refusing to run behind the garbage trucks (I trust using the term garbage truck won't offend anyone), stating that it is unhealthy and a breach of their contract, and have begun walking instead, thus causing a build-up of remaining garbage on the streets when they can't complete their rounds in the allotted time.

I pray this will be one strike to end before it gathers too much momentum. Because, train drivers may inconvenience folk by leaving them standing on platforms all over England. Teachers can abandon the classroom and inflict ignorance on their students. Nurses can desert the sick. Motorway workman can down tools and leave cones scattered from here to Timbuktu for all I care and I'll still sympathise with their causes despite my own inconvenience.

But the garb… pardon, the refuse collection technicians, can not, I repeat, can not be allowed to leave uncollected newspapers of David Beckham and his ailing left foot for the next eight weeks all over my neighbourhood just because they don't want to sprint! It's inhumane!

It's just my luck (well, really it's just my family's luck) that whispering is the method de jour for taming the beast from within. It seems that it's out with loud orders of coercion and in with calm tones and easy requests.

It all began a few years ago with a Robert Redford movie called The Horse Whisperer.
And now it's not just horses that can benefit from the new approach. Experts everywhere are getting in on the act, ready to teach us how to whisper to anything or anyone in order to pacify the savage breast - cats, dogs, goldfish, wayward partners, unruly children, you name it, if it has ears, you too can make more progress by using the dulcet sounds of a whispered voice rather than the shrill screams of a distraught harridan.

Of course, I imagine the trick is also knowing just what to say. I mean, it can't be as simple as merely sighing, "I'll glue your head to the blackboard if you don't stop that". Surely there has to be magical words to go along with the verbal skill - and maybe throw in a bribe or two.

Because, in my experience, whenever I had to threaten quietly through clenched teeth due to an unfamiliar surrounding, my darling issue made like they didn't understand what I was saying. Until, that is, I bellowed the same warning at a more customary volume, disregarding the audience. Suddenly the penny would drop and peace would reign once again… for a little while, that is.
And I can't say that I trust it would have a beneficial effect on spouses either. If I were to unexpectedly start whispering my complaints to the other half instead of the usual shriek of protest he's used to, he'd be so distrustful at the change, forget whisperer, he'd probably hire a food taster!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Blimey! Some weeks there's so little happening in the world that I find myself following strangers around in order to glean some inspiration and put an article together.

But this week I'm absolutely bombarded with good stuff to write about. So much so that cramming it all into my allotted space is going to be difficult.

So I'll waste no more time and get on with it.

I'll begin with the most important matter. I want to thank a reader by the name of Brenda who sent me a very touching newspaper article featuring Histon High Street in the 1950's. She keenly spotted a picture of the shop our dear departed Nanna ran and was thoughtful enough to send me the page. I have put your card and the clipping with the things left to me by Nanna. Very warm thanks from the family as well as myself.

And, on a less personal note: I think I've cracked the mystification concerning how our elected government and local councils are able to plough onwards despite such overwhelming unrest amongst their constituents.

They've all gone Hollywood!

I'll explain … how many times have we heard a celebrity bleat on about how they no longer read their press reviews, how they avoid the tabloids all together lest they read something unfavourable about themselves? Therefore they continue to pretend we share their over inflated opinion of their overindulgent performances - despite reality.

Or course, being paid squillions of dollars for doing little more than reciting someone else's words encourages the hedonism too, but even that similarity applies to my explanation.

Now, use that same analogy for our local council or President Blair and Co., and it begins to explain how our elected officials are able to continue oblivious that we are unhappy, disappointed, ill, broke, bewildered, inconvenienced and eventually demoralized by their constant lack of perception.

So, it's simple, really…in order to have a competent, tuned in government, both local and national, instead of being surrounded by monopolizing advisors, an elected member should start every day by reading their own press... out loud!

And next on my list of spleen venting …what's up with professional football and its players these days?

Every morning we are treated to news about how another athlete has been arrested for a punch-up, caught speeding in their extravagant means of transportation or found engaged in extra marital recreations. And this is as well as the grievous bodily assaults they inflict on each other during game time.

I mean really! Are these sportsmen (and I use that term sparingly) getting too much fibre in their diets or something?

Now, I am not remotely interested in the game. I wouldn't know a team strip from a cartoon strip, but surely for a grown man to earn an absurd living doing nothing more than what schoolboys do on their lunch hours, or the fact that they are treated like royalty wherever they go, you'd think they'd at least be jolly, upbeat gentleman who know how to conduct themselves in public, not give new meaning to the expression "football hooligan"! And there was a time when a parent would have been as proud as punch for their progeny to make it to the ranks of profession football. Not now! Much more of this disgraceful behaviour and parents will be as disapproving as if their young lads had shown an interest in becoming rock stars!

Anne’s View
With Anne deBondt

It’s difficult to know the appropriate reaction to the death of the Queen Mother. In some instances, I have seen folk become sombre and quiet, more reflective and sad at the passing of such a significant and historical treasure.

And at other times I have witnessed a kind of celebration of the fact that, although she is no longer with us, she managed to live a full and useful life, well past what most of us would consider to be our productive years.

Two youths spring to mind when recalling the second attitude. They were enthusiastically reading the newspaper coverage of the Queen Mother’s life from childhood to Queen to Queen Mother without a hint of grief. They commented on how much they hadn’t known about her previously. For one, how cute she had been as a child. And secondly, how noble and fearless she had been during WWII. They went on to read about how she had handled the “Simpson” affair and mulled over how she had faced several health set backs in latter life, one after another.

It was evident that neither of these youths had had previous cause to take notice of such an extraordinary life. They had probably treated any schooling regarding Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as duty - often hearing about her activities and increasing impressive age without much concern - until now.

But which reaction is correct or proper?
I say both. In departing this earth she has profoundly saddened her family. And we should be respectful of their deep and irreplaceable loss. And also, coming so close to the death of her daughter, it must make the passing all the more heartbreaking for the rest of the royal family.
But perhaps it isn’t appropriate that we the public share in the sadness. Maybe our emotions should be more of gratitude for having been exposed to her incomparable personality for longer than any of us can recall.

For who in our time will take up the status of remarkable, courageous and charming now?
There may well be those who feel they’ve lost a grandmother. But I’m certain there are more of us who just appreciative having been alive during the reign of such a stoic and fascinating lass - the likes of which we may never see again in our time.

If ever there was a justification for history books, it’s this woman, given that following generations will have to be satisfied with reading about such an extraordinary life. A life we have been privileged to witness first hand.

Here’s a worrying development…
Someone (ok, I’ll say it first, it’s probably an American) has devised a callisthenic-type exercise to strengthen our thumbs lest we injure ourselves while sending ext messages - such is the increase in popularity of the digit communication.

No, really! I saw a full-page public notice in a magazine on how to avoid thumb sprain when tapping out an abbreviated exchange. Proof, if ever we needed it, that the art of conversation is dead.

But I have forced myself to look on the bright side of things. To gain knowledge from the ridiculous.

No doubt we will one day soon be seated next to someone carrying out the prescribed (and idiotic) therapy. We’ll see them intertwine their fingers and begin pushing the tips of their thumbs together firmly and then releasing, continuing to do this several times. They will then bend the thumb at the knuckle, while keeping the fingers intertwined, and extend the thumbs upward - again, they will do this movement several times.

And thus, all life’s losers will be revealed!


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

It had to happen. I knew it was only a matter of time before the party was over - and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a man was behind the shake-up too.
According to an American drug company, a pill is being developed to cure people (who am I kidding, we know this is primarily aimed at women) of compulsive shopping. Evidently this wonder stuff can calm the savage beast from within that tempts us to buy insatiably.
Originally the pill was intended as depression assistance and curbing the shopping bug was just an unforeseen consequence. Figures!
That's kind of like inventing the cure to the common cold only to find out that taking it will give you an allergic reaction to chocolate cake. Suddenly the hacking and coughing wouldn't seem so bad.
But apart from the obvious, isn't this anti-retail medication going to cause just a few problems around the Christmas season? Or will we over indulgers be advised to wean ourselves off the stuff come November just to keep the sales figures high?
Hell, forget women, if this report doesn't put the wind up retailers, nothing will.
As if there isn't more pressing medical dilemmas to keep science busy. I mean, with all the world poverty, illness, disease and strife, they pick on the one obsession and addiction that actually gives pleasure, creates employment and brings families together!
And before you chirp in that most husbands don't go willingly to the mall with their wives, therefore it's hardly a family pastime; I'm referring to the ones who enjoy a Saturday afternoon of sports. Without shopping, some women would be forced to hang around the house and nag them to put up the shelves in the kitchen. See… domestic harmony by way of retail.
What did we women do to deserve such ill treatment? Isn't it enough that men have Viagra? Isn't it above and beyond the call of duty that women are now able to bear children well into their 60's, thanks to modern science?
But to take away the shopping? I predict Anarchy!

President Bush an Englishman? He wouldn't know his Stetson from a sou'wester. And as for his aptitude as a leader…he ranks just below another American President, Jimmy Carter, a former peanut farmer and only slightly ahead of President Ronald Reagan the actor cum well, actor!
It's only fair that I leave Bill 'the stud' Clinton out of the running since he's so obviously unfit for any office (particularly any employing females) that it just wouldn't be sporting to include him.
So E C Holden of Little Downham and I actually agree. Although I'm not too sure Tone and Co. score many points for being able to communicate with everyone but the natives, you know, the ones that voted him in! What good is being able to solve the world's problems when your own country is doing without your supposed brainpower and competence?
Furthermore American politicians can't be accused of trying to unduly influence folk over here. That's firmly the fault of those absurd American television shows!
And as for that group of influential people who tell E C Holden that President Blair is doing a good job…. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that not one of them is a teacher, a nurse, a train driver, a policeman, a parent with a child due for jabs or an old age pensioner. Consequently, I also agree that Tony Blair is the best Prime Minister we've had in a long time… how sad is that?

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Forget college. Never mind an expensive stint at University. Because from cradle to grave you can learn all you need to know about life and culture between the pages of a trendy magazine and forget the temptation to waste money on a time-consuming computer-training course.

Although it is worth noting that one should avoid any publication with a picture of a soap star or football player on its cover. Otherwise you may find yourself reading about a half-witted performer in a swimsuit. Or worse, some bigheaded goalie that thinks he's a brain surgeon because he plays ball!
No, the really informative glossies can provide you with more education than four years at college. A gal can learn how to ward off bullies, tackle pubescent dilemmas and get a good job all in one afternoon and at minimal cost. Furthermore, strange as it may seem, your daughter is more likely to take heed from an unknown columnist than her own parents or a school head, all because Kylie was pictured on the front.
A young man can get handy tips on how to win friends and influence people and become Mr. Sophisticated without so much as attending a night course - despite that his bedroom still resembles a condemned bombsite and he hasn't yet managed to master eating with a knife and fork, no matter how you plead (or threaten).
Similarly, we grown-ups can benefit from up-market mags too that feature such topics as what to do when your man stops listening or how to survive on a tight budget by turning hash into cordon bleu!
A young, first-time mother can even learn how to repair the brakes on her car with a hairpin, prepare the house for an imminent arrival and give birth without ever once attending a classroom.
But my favourite encouragement and assistance is the ever-increasing agony aunt articles. There seems to be countless tutors willing to impart their rational opinions these days.
What I can never understand though is just what type of person it takes to divulge their deepest (and in some cases, most embarrassing) circumstances to a national publication - and then await the equally public advice.
Hell, I have trouble confessing to my hairdresser that I snipped my fringe in between visits, god only knows how desperate I'd have to be before I wrote off for guidance concerning my shortcomings and troubles. And I don't even want to think of the response I'd get from the other half if I began quoting some journalist, who suggested he change his habits of a lifetime all because I dispatched three whining paragraphs to a stranger!
Nevertheless, do without the traditional learning experience and opt for the modern version of education.
You may not end up with a degree or a certificate for your troubles, but at least when fashions change and advice is rescinded, you won't have wasted thousands of pounds only to discover that your schooling is now considered obsolete!

Now, I know the Internet is a handy thing. I mean, if it weren't for such modern technology I wouldn't be able to entertain friends and family back home from the comforts of my desk here.
Similarly, the worldwide information available at the touch of a button is immeasurable.
But then there's the absurd side to it all. Do we really need to have a website for every single product and industry in the world? Who needs to visit Why would anyone waste one moment of his or her day going to ?
Yes modern technology is good. But sometimes it can encourage ridiculousness.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Similar to his handling of the MMR dilemma - you know, inflict a questionable treatment on the country's infants, regardless of its uncertainty and then go underground when it comes to affirming your own conduct - his president-ness Tony Blair has decided to solve the nationwide problem of dodgy train service, congested roads and non-existent bus routes (for him, that is) by acquiring a private jet, comically referred to as Blair Force 1! The bona fide President has a cute little tax deduction called Air force 1 - must be where he got the idea!
Geeze, could this elected politician be more out of step with his people? While his transportation department is busy playing pass the buck, our leader is hoping to slip a little jumbo under their noses so that he isn't inconvenienced by their lack of competence.
And while he's at it…why doesn't he just paint 10 Downing Street white, slip into a pair of cowboy boots and a Stetson and get it over with? Lord knows he's good enough at the double talk and insincerity to be an American politician!

If I hear the phrase, 'And the winner is….', one more time I'm going to scream.
I mean, really, what's with all the award ceremonies? Every night for the last two weeks there's been another luvvies convention on the tube where some celebrity in a squillion dollar dress blubs their way through thanking everyone they've ever met!
It amazes me that the pop idols, screen idols, big shots or film stars can still take it all seriously. Because if they don't win the Oscar, they'll win the Emmy. If they lose at the AFI bash, they'll win the Tony.
If BAFTA ignores their wonderfulness, the Grammy folk are sure to make up for it. If MTV doesn't bestow a gong on the latest rapper to shoot someone, then VH1 will.
Pretty soon, the entire stage taking population will have been given some sort of accolade to celebrate their time in front of the camera.
Before long they'll have to start giving awards to the pets of the celebrities because there won't be any humans left who haven't been acknowledged.
And then the nonsense will start all over again…
Besides the obvious winners there'll be an award for the guy who walked the best leading animal. An award for the best make-up artist of the best leading moggy. A lifetime achievement award for the trainer of the best supporting goldfish…

The minimalist concept is a retail ploy that is quickly catching on over here. It's an American idea to strip the shop floor of practically everything but a few choice items so that the customer has a feeling of open space and freedom to decide without distraction.
We're also supposed to feel confident that the designs are as individual as we are, that we won't bump into 300 other women wearing the same thing because we only see three or four garments in front of us.
Doesn't the scheme sound more suited to men? My other half would go shopping every day if he thought all he had to do was choose from two types of shoes on display and one sweater hanging in front of him. He'd love the fact that he could take a quick look from the doorway and know there was nothing inside that fit him.
On the other hand, I don't know of a woman who would be satisfied with such a scant selection. The reason we're venturing out in the first place is because we only had a few things to choose from at home!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I've been utterly astonished at the amount of successful lawsuits brought against tobacco companies by cigarette smokers in the Untied States. And shudder at the thought of how long it will take for the concept of passing the buck of personal responsibility to catch on over here.
I mean, really, what other product do you know of that has a death warning emblazoned across its packaging? What else do they need to do to deter would be smokers from partaking of the nasty habit, a hidden exploding fag in the pack?
Yet folk still light up and puff away disregarding the obvious outcome. And then feel justified in blaming someone else when the inevitable happens.
And never mind the complaint that "they" put stronger addictive substances in each cigarette these days, therefore when granddad took up smoking, it was healthier - no amount of nicotine and tar is good for you!
So you can only imagine my even greater astonishment when I read that a group of overweight people (obviously in the US again) plan to take similar action against fatty foods manufacturers for their negligence in not alerting the beef burger, cake and pie eaters of the risk of gaining a pound or two should they shovel the grub into their gobs on a regular basis! If that doesn't take the cake - pun intended - nothing does!
Get a grip on yourself people! Put the burger down and go for a walk.

Next they'll be suing the clothes manufacturers because their backsides do look fat in their trousers!

I suppose the answer to this is obvious to some, but what exactly is a Feng Shui garden?
Despite that there are now dozens of books on the shelves extolling the wonderment of such a thing - apparently no matter how large or small our plots are - I can't seem to pinpoint exactly how the theory relates to the environment.
I think I know what Feng Shui in the house is all about. Something like propping a mirror on a wall to add extra light in a dingy hallway or shoving a chair over a juice stain on the carpet to hide it from guests, and so on. And it even makes sense that a re-jigging of furniture could enhance your living conditions.
But how on earth does the concept apply to your garden? Doesn't nature kind of take care things on its own?
I mean, regardless of divine intervention, if you put a plant in the wrong place, it'll die. If it likes the soil condition and sunlight, it thrives. Surely there's no need to consult a spiritual guide for that, just plant and add water, you'll soon know if you've botched the job.
And what about the modest works yards? Does this nonsense also apply there? Do folk risk inharmonious balance if they place the shed in the wrong direction? Should it face north or south?
And then there's the compost heap… or is this all a load of fertiliser?

Now, I know I have a reputation for being a bit of a whinge-bag. And for the most part, that's true. But I am also a big enough person to offer praise when it's deserved.
I really like the Jubilee Gardens. I happened to catch a glimpse of it the other day as I was being chauffeured to my destination - I like to give the other half credit where it's due too - and I spotted the new addition to Ely's otherwise drab and spiritless city. Nice, very nice, indeed.
See? I can be pleasant when the occasion calls for it!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

It took me ages to get over the absurd "Free Deirdre Rashid " campaign carried out by a few fixated Coronation Street viewers. In fact, I still find it difficult to watch the programme without breaking into a guffaw, such was the hilarity of some folk actually writing to their MP's to get the fictitious character freed from a fictitious jail.

But this latest "vote for Gareth" crusade currently littering our local streets is a quirk too far and makes me want to throw out the television and take up rock climbing. Have we got too much time on our hands, or what? Or is it that television has finally distorted reality to the point where we feel more stimulated by the plights of a phoney pop idol or a pretend, middle-aged, cradle-robber than we do for real tragedy? You know, like those daft imbeciles who volunteer to be stranded on a desert island in the middle of nowhere for weeks at a time until one by one they are eliminated.

I've never figured out whether early elimination is the prize or the penalty! Now being that foolish is really tragic!

If there's one thing that gets my goat quicker than anything else, it's bad service - of any kind. Of course, if you've read this article more than once, you already now this. But I seem to have suffered a rash of episodes lately that makes it worth repeating the point.

It should be basic waitress training that if a customer protests when half their order is missing upon being served, the correct way to handle the matter is for the waitress to go fetch the other half. Right? I mean, after all, restaurants don't serve free meals.

Or, should a shopper feel miffed enough to complain about having to wait in a queue fifteen people long while a witless lass tries to figure out the price of something, the standard procedure is to open up another till. No? Otherwise, why have more than one till in a shop?

Yet, it's becoming common practice to have an employee stare vacantly at you while you suggest that they do their job. Or better still, actually expect them to know something about the job they were hired to do.

I recently asked one young man in a local shop about a vacuum cleaner I was interested in purchasing…. He disappeared though a back door, supposedly to ascertain the information from a more intelligent being, only to never be seen again. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything form that particular establishment.
Who's' training these shining examples of ineptitude, Mr. Bean?

I suppose it's expected that youths don't care whether or not we old fogies get the right brand of coffee or whether we have been treated nicely by the sales staff. But owners of these enterprises should know that to hire twelve year olds with an attitude may be cheap labour but it also ensures anyone with half a brain takes their business elsewhere.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to Sue Simpson of Newmarket for her kindness in helping two old codgers with a heavy load.

She deserves an even larger pat on the back for performing the task without ever once mentioning that neither of the men she assisted seems to suffer from their ailments when it comes to their recreation!

It's bad enough that I have gone up another age category box when filling out forms. In the last year I have had to force myself not to lie - or plead absent-mindedness - when ticking the new grouping I now belong to, such is my devastation. But it would be impossible to maintain the fib since my date of birth is also required on most forms, and as I am lousy at math, I'd end up making myself even older. And really, when you lie about your age… how many years do you cut off? I mean, is ten too few, is twenty just asking to be pittied? And what's the point in only taking off five years, even that's too old when you're my age. You see, I wouldn't know where to begin, so I don't bother.

But oh how I wish I had paid more attention to the looming boxes. How I dread not having prepared myself for the jolt it gives you to suddenly be thrust into another age bracket. But little did I know that there was worse to come.

For there can be no greater insult paid to a woman than having to buy her beauty products with even the remotest suggestion of old age advice on the labels.

You know, hair thickeners, less detergents, kinder to mature skin, etc. etc…

All right, maybe it wasn't just yesterday, but it wasn't that long ago that I was purchasing the new, "makes your hair shine, smells like spring flowers and virtually styles itself," shampoos and conditioners!

Yet lately and quite unexpectedly I've found myself looking for extra assistance from my cosmetic products.
Like, I've had to ask so much more from my moisturiser. Before it was acceptable for the lotion just to soften my skin and smell pretty. But now it practically has to perform a Changing Rooms effect before I can leave the house. And I couldn't care less if it smells like the front lawn, so long as it hides the crow's feet!

And my hair seems to have jumped two age category boxes. Gone are the days when I can get away with a free and easy tussle of the locks and end up looking wind swept yet dazzling. Today that same effort just looks as though I've had difficulty choosing a hairstyle.

Admittedly, I've never really gone a bundle on smelling like a field. Nor have I ever believed the claims that anything short of a good sheering could renew my hair, but when did I graduate from just a touch of face cream to maximum strength derma-bond? Why do I constantly look as if I've just cleaned out the cupboard under the stairs? And if the products are to appeal to us older broads, then why is the print still microscopic on the packaging? Well, except for the bit about the mature skin and thinning hair, which they can keep barely visible!
Looking back, I'm pretty sure I know the moment it all went to pot. I should have known I was getting old when I found I couldn't sit for long periods of time in my jeans!

Ladies beware, the minute you begin changing into stretchy trousers in the afternoons, you're days of being carefree, fresh and alluring are numbered. You're just a stones throw from purchasing products from the depressing, haggard cosmetics section!

No wonder we become nearsighted at the stroke of 40.

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

It was interesting to read that the UK postal delivery business is to be opened up to full competition by the year 2006. And the first stage of the deregulation begins as early as April this year.

I suspected our Royal Mail was for the high jump the minute it changed its name to Consignia, because nothing predicts the downfall of an industry quite like the introduction of a new identity for an old service. You may recall that I previously wrote about the absurdity of spending so much money on a smokescreen instead of improving the service. Not to mention, employing such a strange word for such a simple task…

But what's really baffling is that the prickly grumbles coming from the artists formerly known as the Royal Postal Service concerning the deregulation comes in the same week that they announced they are to scrap the second delivery of the day. At a time when the Internet and fax machines are taking chunks out of the profits, wouldn't you think the last thing they'd do is curtail the one advantage they have over the opposition?

The fact that 1,000 employees will be laid off is predictable. Not so much because of impending rivalry, more due to the lack of good judgement and foresight from the present administration.

From Royal Mail to Consignia to Trumped!

I almost lost complete faith in all mankind this week when I happened upon a display of St. Valentine's Day cards in a city shop.

Now, I understand the demand for sentiments addressed to boyfriends, lovers, husbands, wives and girlfriends. Hell, I can even put up with the juvenile ones intended from a mystery person. But I almost caused a pile up when I spotted one to "My ex-lover" that stopped me dead in my tracks.

To no one in particular I pleaded, "Surely not! Please tell me that we haven't gone so Hallmark with our mushiness that we are now being enticed to send a loving message to someone we've dumped… or worse, one who's dumped us!"

Despite not originally shopping for a card of any kind, I opened the peculiar salutation.
I, and everyone around me, was thankful when I read the disparaging message - out loud - that requested the recipient position the card somewhere undetectable!

Much to my relief, the poignant prelude was only a red herring after all!

Still, it's only a matter of time before something similar is on our shelves in earnest! Right next to the St. Valentine's Day cards were birthday cards to 'My father's special friend'! I don't even want to think of the possibilities.

I fear Mike Tyson's recent 'troubles' have damaged pro boxing attitudes irreparably and are playing right into the hands of anti-boxing protesters.

And for the most part I agree with those who say that, due to the constant mental illness of the man, the sport is fast becoming more about violent behaviour than a good scrap between two similar sized men as in Ali's or Forman's day.

But then again, boxing is what boxing always has been, two grown men battering each other for three minutes at a time until the other concedes - or drops, whichever comes first.

Unlike football where the objective is to get the little ball into the rivals net, not head butt, elbow, kick or stomp the opponent into the emergency room! If ever there was a sport in danger of becoming an appalling disgrace, it's football.

I don't follow the contests between clubs, so I can't recall specific incidences. But I haven't turned on the television or radio in the past three years where a bust-up between players and referees, players and players, coaches, players and spectators ... etc. etc., isn't being reported on.

Perhaps Tyson is a frustrated footy player after all! And the likes of Viduka, DiCanio and the wife beating Gascoigne need a turn in the rings.

Hell, it couldn't be any bloodier!

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

So, Prince Harry has been a bad boy! Actually, I should have said, so what, Prince Harry's been a bad boy!
Is there a parent anywhere, regardless of class or status, who cannot identify with the recent shenanigans? No one who rears one, knows one, lives next to one or teaches one can be surprised at the over-publicised behaviour of the teenage Prince.

Equally, no parent can throw so much as a pebble, let alone a stone, at the fact that Prince Charles was absent while his son went a little off the rails.

Isn't that exactly what a lad waits for before he drinks to the point of vomiting and behaving appallingly, his parent's absence? I don't know of a young'un that would bravely commit such blunders in the presence of mummy or daddy.

But what does niggle me is that so much emphasis has been placed on whether or not Harry will face charges. The national papers are full of speculations as to whether or not he should be punished further.


What could be worse than having your drunken escapades broadcasted around the world - and in some cases embellished on just to add extra interest? What could be more humiliating than to read where a "friend" has spilled the beans about the last time you spilled your beans?

Let's be a little compassionate, run of the mill teens don't have to suffer the indignity of tabloid photos being dragged out of the archives depicting their moment of shame, whenever they achieve something. Or worse, whenever they commit another faux pas.

But unlike the rest of us, his family won't be allowed to gloss over the youthful event with a Disney style account, the public will be too busy reading and disparaging over the Stephen King version.

I find it astonishing that President "his country's going to hell in a hand basket" Blair can justify such arrogance when actively enforcing the multi-jab MMR, yet vehemently refusing to establish whether or not he and his wife have had the same procedure carried out on their toddler.

What's more absurd is his defence for the silence. He props up his right to keep mum by stating that the floodgates would be opened by allowing us to have this bit of information concerning his children's medical records, that we'll be tempted to ask for more personal details should we be permitted into their inner sanctum just this once.

What claptrap! Most mothers couldn't care less what his children get up to, are treated for or what they eat for breakfast, so long as his government isn't actively forcing our offspring to endure something he protects his from. Or that his ideologies don't apply to his family, just his country!

But I shouldn't be surprised. His entire career as Prime Minister has run along the theme, Do as I say, not as I do.

From education to health, from law and order to transportation, ole Tone and his cabinet members - not to mention, his family - have babbled autocracy and rhetoric when instructing us on how we should live, yet privately behave in complete contradiction. CONT.

Reproaching the Tories for the sorry state this country was in was their previous campaign mantras. It will be interesting to see whom Labour blames for the even sorrier state they've got us in during the next election campaign….

Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

There's a craze sweeping the nation, or perhaps it's just my neck of the woods. But lately I have had an ever-increasing amount of home shopping catalogues pushed through my letterbox. And it's quickly becoming a nuisance.

Every week I find an additional mail order booklet on my doormat inviting me to peruse the pages until I find something I fancy but didn't want to go into town for. Products ranging from boot scrapers to toothbrush holders, wonder cosmetics to grout cleaners. I can even have a full bedroom suite delivered in six to eight weeks, should I be daft enough to trust that the furnishings will look anything remotely like the impressive pictures.

I'm further enticed with the assurance that filling out the simple enclosed order form will bring me whatever my heart desires - why they bother asking for pages of personal details is beyond me. All they need is your postcode and house number and they'll learn more about you in ten seconds than your mother's learned in a lifetime.

However the deal sort of loses its appeal when I also read that I should have the booklet ready for re-collection by a certain date, with or without an order.

Now, it's not just the burden of baby-sitting the things until they are finally collected that niggles me. Or that I feel if the deliverer had wanted their advertisement back they should have knocked and given me a chance to tell them right there and then that I didn't want anything. But mostly I resent that my attempt to be helpful by leaving the booklets outside my front door in order to speed up the sending back process has resulted in a stockpile of dissolving mush due to the salesmen never returning on the day they say they will.

Honestly, I have at least three sodden piles of pulp each week until they are taken away. I presume the owner has eventually collected them. But to be frank, I don't care enough to investigate. I'm just pleased not to be dodging the quagmire.

Although I can actually account for the disappearance of one batch. Upon answering the door to one collector, I was handed what looked like a large, dripping bundle of coloured paper and advised to throw it out, "since they were no longer any good to anyone."

Well really! I could have told them that three weeks earlier when unsolicited bumph was dry and without having opened a page!

Now, call me silly, but when I read that there is to be a five strong poo-patrol on the streets of East Cambridgeshire to force dog owners into cleaning up after their fouling animals, I jumped for joy.

I can no longer count the times I've had to evade the soil of a pet that's not been cleaned up after - and a few times without success.

More to the point, I'd like to take an opinion poll and see what response I'd get if I proposed children should also be allowed to perform such inconsiderate acts without regard for public safety or welfare. You know, monkey see, monkey do! I dare say there'd be a few naysayers in the crowd.

How can some animal owners not feel the least amount of shame in polluting our paths and parks? How can they possibly walk away from the unpleasantness they have left behind and not feel as if they are the most selfish, inconsiderate pedestrians on earth? Because I have news for them, the rest of us stepping in their abandoned filth think they are!

Anne's View
With Anne debondt

I wonder if there are others like myself who seem to spend more time trying to decipher instructions that accompany Christmas gifts than using them.

It's bad enough having to select my language of choice from what looks like a telephone book - especially since the all-important information that pertains to me takes up less than three paragraphs.

Like the microwave, I still haven't mastered it. Whenever I enter the duration of time I want to cook something, the stupid machine blinks 'error' at me. It was a while before I learned not to take it personal. Now I just nuke everything for ten minutes and blame the black bits on our altitude (I read somewhere that that can affect food preparation).

And I particularly loathe diagrams and illustrations as a substitute for written directions. I know they are intended to relate to all nationalities as a short cut, but I swear some illustrations are drawn in a foreign language.

Anyway, a recent present required me to programme a handset before using the new equipment. That seemed easy enough. I turned to page three of the booklet as instructed in the index and was ready to begin.
Or so I thought. Evidently before I could make a start I was directed to page 23 for presetting instructions. Ok, page 23 it is.

Except that before embarking on that particular exercise I was asked to turn to page 16 so that I could initiate the regulation system. So I turned to page 16.

Once there, and before continuing, I was referred to page 64 to ensure that the factory had entered the presetting code - to begin the presetting of the presetting, would you believe!

Well why couldn't they just say that in the first place? I mean really, why send me all over the book when they knew the initial instruction was on page 64?

Three hours later and after enough page flicking to cause a blister, I managed to enter the date and time of day.

I can tell you, when I saw the word 'successful' scroll across the small screen, I wanted to cry with joy. It may seem a small achievement to you, but I've spent less time raising the kids than I did encoding that dammed thing!

Eventually I did get the equipment up and running - well, with the exception of a few functions I decided I wouldn't need anyway! Kind of like the timer on the microwave.

Much to the chagrin of my daughter I am in utter disgust at what's passing for youthful, female fashion these days.

She and I have had the need to be in the same shop at the same time (a previously determined no-no) these past few weeks and despite her giving me strict instructions not to tch or gasp while she looks through the racks of clothing, I just can't help myself.

Not only could I not hide my aversion to today's trends, it was all I could do not to harangue the other young lasses in the shop until they put their choices back and choose more respectable items.

Honestly, as well as sizes on the tags, there should be cautions on some of them. Something like… "Warning! Wearing this could damage your reputation." Or, "Beware, your personality will be affected by the purchase of this item."

Or better still, I recommend - and this is the one my daughter hates most - a forewarning for mothers who shop with their daughters. A sign over an entire section that reads:

"Despite what your child tells you, everyone else is not wearing this."

Return to the current edition of "Anne's View" Click here.

Who is Anne Debondt? - "Suddenly" Anne's New Book..!

Previous Anne's View 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999

To contact Anne, please e-mail :