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Genius delivery service

The modern world seems to shut down opportunities for employment at a hell of a rate as more things go digital, or automated, and manual intervention is needed less and less.

But then interesting things happen too.

Apparently the Post Office is making more money than it ever has, not because stamps have become so bloody expensive, although they have. No, letter deliveries are at their lowest in modern times, but because of online ordering which has pretty much wiped out the high street for all but the richest towns. And likewise other delivery services have popped into existence to service businesses such as eBay where you might win a bidding war for a new pair of hi fi speakers, and then wonder how on earth you’ll get them from deepest Dartford to delightful Darlington.

I’ve just come across a eBay delivery company and they’re going to do pretty much just that for me. It’s dead easy and a heck of a lot cheaper than the other option I had in mind, which was to drive down to Dartford to collect them. They are 80’s B&O beauties.

The only thing is I would have liked to have tried them and given them a good prod before I handed over my cash, but the guy I’m buying from sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

I like them for their looks as much as anything else anyway, so I’m just hoping they’ll sound as good as I remember them doing when I used to pester shops for demos years ago.


More rants about acknowledgement

Right then, it was last week that I started this, and I have just been prompted to rant some more.

I was banging on about how abusive use of direct mail by so many businesses in this country has turned it from a successful business model into a plague and a menace.

I think that fact is largely responsible for the fact that as a nation we rarely respond to anything any ore.

If something doesn’t demand a response – like “tell me no or I will definitely take the money from your account” type of message, it seems that generally folk just can’t be bothered.

Mind you, some of that comes down to language. If you end an invitation with words like “Tell us if you can make it” then you’re asking not to be told when people can’t make it, but then also left hanging not really sure whether folk will arrive or not.

This whole rant started when I did some work for a big company recently.

I slaved away at it, crafting a piece to ensure that it was just right, after all, I stood to make a decent amount of money and maybe find a route to earning a bit on the side to top up the pension.

I duly sent it in and waited in eager anticipation of their comments.

And then waited in slightly frustrated anticipation.

And then after a week I actually rang and asked if they even received it – and just received a cursory brush off and the comment just send us the bill.

I suppose that was the go ahead, and I should be grateful, but I was too annoyed to ask if there was anything else I could do.

I guess that’s old man talking to young person who holds the budget. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

How I became a forex trader

If you read the ‘About Beebeard’ section on this website, you will know that I am retired, so I have all the time in the world at my disposal and some money stashed away for a rainy day.

Now, I have to admit that when it comes to financial matters, I am a rather conservative guy. Most of my pension money has been invested in real estate, which always used to offer sterling returns in the long run. Unfortunately, during the last couple of years the real estate world has been turned upside down and I had no option but to start looking at alternative investments if I planned to live to be a 100 and still be able to eat, drink and have a roof over my head.

That is how I ended up at I was doing a web search for alternative investment opportunities when I found the site. Initially I was very sceptical, but once I started digging deeper I realised that there was indeed an opportunity hidden here.

I started off by trading the Australian Dollar against the US Dollar. My decision was based on the fact that the Aussie Dollar had appreciated dramatically against the US Dollar over the past ten years and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that this process is likely to continue over the next couple of years.

Of course, there are many short term fluctuations in currency exchange rates and I am still struggling to get to grips with that fact. Sometimes I set my stop losses too wide and sometimes I set them too narrow. Getting it just right is rather tricky, but I am learning more every day and I’m sure that eventually I will become a really successful forex trader.

A chance encounter leads to a lifelong friendship

An old friend from South Africa who is now living in the UK visited me the other day. The conversation soon drifted to our first meeting when I was visiting the country many years ago.

I was in Cape Town at the time. I rented a car and drove around the city exploring the many sights this magnificent place has to offer. I remember this was just after the V&A Waterfront had opened its doors for the first time. Nobody could probably foresee, at the time, that this was to become one of the country’s top tourist attractions. I sat at one of the many restaurants with a lovely view of Table Mountain, sipping an espresso; life was good.

After my fifth coffee I was getting a bit hyper and also needed to visit the bathroom rather urgently. I got up and this was when I bumped into this guy making his way back to his table. The problem was he had just helped himself to a nice plate of beetroot salad from the salad bar and during our unfortunate encounter, most of it landed up on his hitherto dazzlingly bright white shirt.

Needless to say not much could be done about the situation at the time and he was so incredibly graceful about the whole thing and I felt so guilty that I had no choice but to invite him to dinner at the same restaurant the next day.

And this is how a 20-year friendship started. Afterwards he invited me to his vineyard near Stellenbosch and showed me more about the culture and history of the Boland region, part of the Western Cape than I would ever have discovered as a tourist.

Jake has since retired. He sold his vineyard and he and his family moved to London to be near their grandchildren. We regularly visit each other and often talk about the old days in South Africa.

Why I love being 67

Just the other day, my son asked me a profound question, at least I’m sure he thought it was profound. He wanted to know what it was like to be 67 years old. He didn’t seem completely convinced by my immediate reaction that I loved it, so I explained a few things to him.

In the first place, I don’t have to sit in the traffic for hours on the way to and from work every day and I never have to look that creature they call ‘the boss’ in the face again on a Monday morning. I can go to bed whenever I want, I can get up when I want and I can do what I want, whenever I want to do it.

That means I have more time for myself. I spend most of this in the garden nowadays and on doing maintenance in and around the house. I also have more time to spend with my friends than ever before and yes, at 67, I still have friends and it is still possible to have heated debates about whatever the issue of the day is.

Of course I am not as fit as I used to be. I might walk a little bit slower than when I was 25 and it might take me a bit longer to get on the bus, but I am by no means a vegetable and I certainly do not appreciate being treated that way.

I know I was guilty of that too when I was 25, but many young people seem to think that everyone older than 40 is on the way to the nearest graveyard. Obviously none of them has ever heard of Betty White. That lady is 91 years old and she’s still a full-time actress with a hectic schedule. Perhaps you will remember her from the long-running television series, ‘The Golden Girls’.

Another thing that many younger people don’t seem to understand is that I still have plans for the future. I am going on a Caribbean holiday a few months from now and I plan to take a world cruise next year. One day, I even hope to be able to walk that most famous of all pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago.

A noisy start to a lifelong friendship

Owning a motor car is a necessary evil. Where I live the public transport is not amongst the best in the world and without a car I would, to a large extent, be stranded. That is why I am the proud owner of a 1986 Volkswagen Beetle.

I will never forget the day I bought that car; it was brand new at the time. I chose it after a friend of mine highly recommended his own Beetle and within 15 minutes I was back at the showroom, asking for the transaction to be cancelled.

The reason for this unexpected turn of events was the fact that the Beetle proved to be extremely noisy. I simply couldn’t believe that an engine emitting such an incredible amount of noise could be working properly. The salesman assured me that it was perfectly normal and even volunteered to take me for a test drive in one of the other Beetles on the forecourt, just to quell my misgivings.

After that incident it took quite some time for me and the car to bond. However, years of reliable service has convinced me that a car can, in fact, make more noise than a bag of nails in a washing machine and still be in an excellent state of repair.

Together we have travelled to the four corners of Britain, me and that car and never has anything gone wrong that couldn’t be fixed in an hour or two. I must admit it’s not a miser, by far, when it comes to fuel consumption; I only get about 23 miles per gallon, which is much less than most of today’s small cars. On the other hand, if the GPS system on one of those cars stops working it will probably cost more to repair than the retail value of my VW Beetle.