Archives for category: General

Most of us wouldn’t think twice before referring to sticky notes as ‘Post-its’, or flying disc as ‘Frisbee’ and in-line skates as ‘Rollerblades’. These are just a few out of so many brands that have become more widely used than their original names. I believe even a term has been invented for it: Genericide.

And just like anywhere else in the world, Brazil also has many similar examples. One of which being adhesive tape, where people refer to as Durex – a famous brand of tapes in Brazil, but also a famous brand of condoms in the UK.

Now with that in mind, I’ll tell you a story of this Brazilian English student who left Brazil a few years ago for the first time to visit the United Kingdom. Let’s call this guy Pedro.

Pedro is very keen on practicing his English and is taking every opportunity to talk to people, ask for directions, recommendations and so on. One morning Pedro walks into a WH Smith, a well known stationary shop in the UK, looks around for a while, doesn’t find what he wants and walks to a member of staff. “Excuse me. Can you help me, please?”

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“I’m looking for durex.”

The salesperson, obviously very confused, replies “I’m sorry, but you won’t find this here. You need to go to a Boots store. There’s one just down the road”.

“Thank you.” Pedro says even more confused. He walks out of the shop towards Boots. And at Boots he goes straight to the till point. “Hi, I’m looking to durex.”

And the quite helpful salesperson “Yes, what type are you looking for?”

Pedro’s reply was “the one you can write on”.

Of course Pedro learned some new words that day. But I wonder what was the first thought through the staff’s mind…

This true story still cracks me up every time I remember it.

British Gas note

British Gas note with incorrect time

Our boiler broke down and we had no hot water in the house. We called British Gas and booked an engineer to come and have a look at it. They said someone would be here at any time from 13:00 to 18:00, and because I work only 5 minutes from home, I asked if the engineer could call me on my mobile when he was on his way. Well, it never happened. I got home and there was a note on the door from the engineer saying he was here at 14:00.

I called British Gas again on the number provided on the card and had to book another appointment for the next day, this time between 8:00 and 10:00. Since it was only two hours, I decided to take no risk and wait at home. At 10:00 I called British Gas to find out of the engineer’s whereabouts, and apparently he was stuck at his other job and would be late. Because I didn’t know how long that was going to take, I asked to be contacted on my mobile when he was on his way and went to work. This time he did call me at 10:20 saying he would be at my house in 5 minutes (just the right time I need to get home, I thought). For my surprise, I encountered another card on my door saying he had been here at 10:30!!! How exactly I don’t know, because I was in the house calling British Gas at 10:30!!!!

The girl on the phone contacted the engineer who had the courage to say when he called me he could hear a dog barking on the background, but when he arrived nobody was in. I do have a dog, but I can guarantee he wasn’t with me at work nor my work colleagues were barking on the background!!!! She then said she could read on his notes he was here at 10:26. So why did he write on the card left at my door that he was here at 10:30? Well, she said, there might be a clock difference. What? You mean a difference on his own clock? She also said he had no obligation to wait (in this case a couple of minutes) and the conversation ended with her saying – on her own words – “That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was at your door and you weren’t there”. I bet you they don’t talk to you like that when you’re joining them.

After such a rubbish service, I realised British Gas wasn’t really keen in helping me and my only alternative was to find an independent engineer. Without any effort at all, I found a really nice turkish guy who came in just an hour, fixed the problem and charged me £45 for something British Gas would have charged £210!!!

I’ve decided to cancel my account with British Gas and find a company that doesn’t use the “Am I bothered?” and “Computer says no…” policies. And I hope you do the same!

Palying with an inner tireI saw on Metro newspaper this morning pictures of people form everywhere in Britain having fun in the snow. One picture, however, brought back some really nice memories from my childhood in Brazil. It’s a couple of teenagers using those huge green recycling bins to sledge in the snow. Well, of course we couldn’t do the same due to the lack of snow, but we also had our ways to improvise and have fun!

A few years ago, it wasn’t very common to see these colourful kids floats we find everywhere nowadays. The greatest thing was to use an inner-tire to play with. And because it’s so robust, you could play with it on the water, roll it on the grass or even tie some ropes on it and create a lovely swing. The limits were really your imagination! Any inner-tire would do, but the best ones were the trucks or tractors ones, for obvious reasons.

This last decade has been pretty much indoors. We seem to be always very busy with our computers, gadgets and, even having fun now means playing with a video game, or managing a digital farm on Facebook. A lot of parents probably struggle to get their kids out to play a football, for instance, because they rather sit in front of a telly. Then comes obesity and all those problems we hear all the time.

I remember how it is to live without computers and all the digital stuff that surround us, but children born in the 90’s will never understand what’s a non-digital world. This makes me wonder what would happen to the world if all the sudden we saw ourselves without computers, mobiles and navigation systems we are so dependent on. I guess, after a lot of chaos, we would have to learn how to live again! But dreaming a little, I think it would be amazing to re-discover what it is to have a doll that belonged to your mum, learn and have fun with things your dad or even granddad use to do as a child, wear a pair of shoes until there’s a hole on the sole! Meet people and make new friends face to face once again.

Perhaps we can’t go back and live like we used to a little more than a decade ago, but we can, however, bring some of those memories back and possibly revive a few things we had fun with back then. What’s stopping us? Let’s not be so concerned about what’s being launched next month and take advantage of good things in life. Sledging on the snow with a recycling bin is a good start!

Winter has arrived without any mercy at all. It’s been very cold, wet and windy. As I heard a comedian the other day on the telly, all the countries are getting hotter due to global warming, and Britain’s weather is getting even shittier! This is my fifth winter and I kind of agree with this theory. Apparently it’s the coldest winter in thirty years. And trust me, you don’t need to be here that long to notice the difference.

Snow is really a great fun when you come from a tropical country and see it for the first time. After that, you need to face the cold weather, footpaths covered in slippery ice and chaotic public transport, it makes you forget about all the existing problems in Brazil and, for a moment, you regret ever leaving your nice and warm country.

The trouble when it snows is that the city stops. No buses, no trains, no nothing! You hear on the news women giving birth in the back of a taxi stranded somewhere on the way to the hospital, people walking miles trying to get home and needless to mention all the road accidents or those who slept in their cars because they simply couldn’t make it home.

I didn’t mind the snow until a little more than a month ago, when I still didn’t have my driving license. Now I totally understand why people panic when they hear it’ll snow on the weather forecast. It’s just chaotic! You cannot see properly or trust your breaks and still need to get to work!

It’s been snowing since I arrived home at 6pm this evening. The forecast for tomorrow is 4-6 inches (10-15 cm). If this really happens, it’ll be absolutely horrible! Having said that, I love when it snows this much just to see my dog Benny, the Jack Russell Terrier play with the falling flakes. I don’t know what goes through his mind, but I’m sure he thinks it’s one of the best things of life ever. You can really tell.

Why can’t we get everything we want from life? Unfortunately we can’t have it all. The best thing to do, as we all know from Monty Python, is always look on the bright side of life.

Another year has finished. And even though 2009 was a great year, it’s gone in a blink of an eye!

I remember setting a few challenging targets at the beginning of last year that even I doubted myself. I decided all those things I always wanted to do would never become a reality unless I did something about it. And I did! I took on classic guitar lessons, managed to get my UK driving license sorted, went to a good number of great concerts and did so many small things I kept postponing for such a long time.

The greatest thing that marked the end of 2009 to me was the Goldman’s case. If you haven’t heard about it yet, click here for an update. I was very glad to see Sean Goldman to be reunited with his dad after four years apart. A happy end at last!

2010 has arrived! But not so well, I have to say. There are so many catastrophes happening around the globe that makes you wonder if this year will make it to the end at all. But we have to be optimistic and find good things out of what surround us.

Well, I thought, what a better way to be optimistic other than setting new targets to look forward to throughout 2010? It’s hard to decide in January what you’ll do till the end of the year… but if I need to think big, I’d say why not try to get my British passport sorted? I’ve lived in the United Kingdom for five years and am entitled to apply for one. It may not sound that hard, but I have some nice and nasty feedback about the test I need to pass. Let’s see how it goes… The next huge thing I need is definitely a new job. It’s been great working where I am at now, but sadly it got to a point where it’s not as exciting as it was any more. Apart from that, of course there are loads of small things I’d like to do! Including more travelling, more concerts and theatres, small courses related to arts, etc. There are so much I’d like to do… But I need to stick to a short list, otherwise I’ll end up not meeting my target!

Have you decided your targets yet? Good luck to you and me!