The truly important news

Forget the real news. It’s too depressing. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Britain and, briefly, in the U.S.

Petitions: Britain introduced its first plastic banknote recently, and it’s worth £5. For a while there, you couldn’t get or give one without being warned not to put it in the tumble dryer. Apparently they shrink. Cue a range of jokes about money laundering, although it is, apparently, safe to put it in the washing machine. The police will, I’m sure, be watching for clotheslines with £5 bills neatly clipped in a line and drying in the sun.

We don’t have a dryer, so we won’t be shrinking any. And I think they’re called notes in British, not bills. But don’t trust me on that. The other night, I sent a group of friends into a meltdown when I asked if someone trying to light her cigarette had found a match. Turns she was looking for a light, not a match, although she swore she’d have understood me if I’d asked about a matchstick.

The things we use to light our woodburner (which is called a stove, unlike the stove, which is called a hob) are sold as matches, so I’m baffled by the problem. She tried to explain it but it all got even more complicated and we gave up.

Irrelevant photo: Runoff from  a field, but it makes me understand how this landscape gave rise to tales of fairies and such.

Irrelevant photo: This is just runoff from a field, but it makes me understand how this landscape gave rise to tales of fairies and such.

But back to £5 bills or notes. Just this week, the nation learned that the new bill contains tallow—in other words, animal fats derived from beef or mutton, and someone’s started a petition on to remove the tallow. The headlines focus on vegans and vegetarians being upset about this, but Hindus are considering banning the bills from their temples.

Some of the articles claim the petition’s calling for fat-free bills. It’s not, but it might be a clever move, creating an alliance of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, and dieters.

Searching for the fat-free petition brought my attention to a variety of other petitions about banknotes. One wants to ban all politicians from them.

Government secrets: A parliamentary aide was photographed walking out of a meeting with a set of notes that may detail the government’s Brexit strategy. Or may not. Maybe they’re the aide’s opinions on the strategy. No one’s saying. What is known is that she walked out a door that carries large-scale warnings about covering any notes you’re carrying and she ignored them. A press photograph first called out, “I can read the document,” and when she and the people she was with didn’t pay any attention he took his shot and suddenly the top page of her notepad was appearing everywhere. Among other things, the notes said, “What’s the model? Have cake and eat it.”

I’ve sat through meetings that drove me to write things like that. Mercifully, no one much cared. The aide, though? I doubt this is going to help her career.

What does it tell us about Brexit? Not much, but the government’s keeping its strategy so deeply hidden that some folks wonder if it has one. That makes anything coming out of a Brexit meeting hot gossip.

The photographer who took the shot is a regular outside the Downing Street offices and he sent it out on Twitter because, he said, “picture desks don’t always take much notice, but most political journalists follow me on Twitter so it gets picked up that way.” But most of his Twitter followers are more interested in pictures of 10 Downing Street’s cat and the chancellor’s dog.

The cat was brought in when Cameron was prime minister, and he didn’t take the cat with him, which is just one more thing I can hold against the man. What kind of prime minister brings a cat into his residence and then leaves it for the government to take care of?

Jobs and employment: Okay, this is about me rather than government policy, but since every government ever elected anywhere claims to be creating jobs, that should be a tight enough connection to let me to get away with this.

LinkedIn sent me an email saying it knew of over a thousand jobs in Exeter that would be a perfect match for me. Never mind that Exeter’s just over than an hour from where I live. I’ve known people who commute that far for work. It half kills them, but they do it. And never mind that I’m retired. I doubt I mentioned that to LinkedIn.

Why am I on LinkedIn if I’m retired? Someone invited me to join her network years ago and it seemed rude not to. Besides, I was working then. I’ve stayed on because anything that passes itself off as a network looks like a useful way to promote a book. Or a blog. Or—oh, hell, someone remind me what I’m supposed to be promoting this week, would you?

I’m not sure how useful it actually is, or even how useful it could be. I haven’t figured out how what to do with it, or why. I’ve never fit neatly into the established categories, so—well, yeah. I’m on LinkedIn for reasons I don’t entirely understand.

But I stay for the entertainment.

The jobs the email listed are for a novelist, an author, a writer, a freelance writer, and a chief executive officer. If you notice anything odd in that list, it’s okay, you’re not—as far as I can tell from here—on drugs.

I itch to simplify that list. Because in addition to being a novelist, an author, a writer, and a freelance writer, I was also a copy editor, and that’s what copy editors do. How much overlap is there, guys, between an author, a writer, and a freelance writer? Why are we mentioning all three? I’ll give them novelist: That’s specific enough to justify its own mention, although I want to tell you, it’s damn rare that anyone wants to hire one. When did you last hear someone yell, “Quick, we need a novelist to sort out this mess”?

We’ll get to the next problem with the list in an inch or two.

I clicked on novelist to see what jobs LinkedIn had found in Exeter.

None. But it did want to know what I thought of its new job search experience.

Oh, hell, I loved it so much that I went back and clicked on author, writer, and freelance writer.

No matches. So I clicked on chief executive officer—a job I’m stunningly unqualified for and the true oddity of the list.

No matches. No one in Exeter is hiring CEOs. Or maybe, wisely, no one’s hiring CEOs with my qualifications.

It all reminds me of the time I ran into an acquaintance and asked how she was.

“Terrible,” she said.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

“Then why bring it up?” I didn’t ask.

In a similar vein, I wasn’t the one who asked about jobs for novelists. Are they going to notify me every time one doesn’t come up? I’m going to have a lot of emails.

Technology: This isn’t about the U.K., it’s about the U.S., but I do want to be even handed.

The USS Zumwalt, the U.S. navy’s super high-tech destroyer and its most expensive ever, broke down in the Panama Canal. It’s worth $4.4 billion, can fire rocket-powered shells up to 63 miles—those are nautical miles, and let’s not get into how they’re different from other miles because it’ll be such a snarl we’ll never get loose—and it had to be towed to the nearest garage, where a mechanic scratched his head and said, “I don’t know, buddy. Looks expensive. We’ll have to send away for parts, so you could be here for a while.”

It had a similar problem the month before. And if that isn’t embarrassing enough, it can’t fire its guns because at $800,000 per round the ammunition’s too expensive.

56 thoughts on “The truly important news

  1. OK … LinkedIn. I’m on it but God (©) knows what it’s for.
    I thought for ages that it was called Linekin (Link – ee – Kin).
    Plastic notes … I stitch them together and use them as wipeable tablecloths. I think I may start a business and sell my tablecloths on ebay. Er … well maybe. I will have to think it through.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Depending on the size of your table, those are going to get pricey. Actually, even for a small table…

      I’m so glad someone else hasn’t figure out LinkedIn. Here I’ve been thinking it made perfect sense to everybody else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m on LinkedIn for similar reasons as you Ellen: to (sometimes) keep in touch with people I used to work with. Many of them are still working, but I’m not – my LinkedIn profile clearly says I’m retired. Does this stop recruitment agencies from sending me job ads? Nope. Even for jobs that I’m entirely unqualified to do. But at least, unlike BookFace, I don’t get emails every day telling me that XYZ has just eaten a biscuit, and ABC is now on holiday on Mars.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The first Facebook post I ever got was that a friend was eating broccoli. It shaped my understanding of how important Facebook posts are. But what LinkedIn does is announce that somebody or other has a new job, or a job anniversary. I usually ignore these, but I did once email someone about her new job. She wrote back to ask what new job I was talking about.



  2. Can’t say that I quite understand the problem with ‘match’ as that’s what always used to be used to light a cigarette. See – ‘light’ is the act of lighting with a match. Or a lighter (which is not a match, it’s an automatic fire-emitting thing.)

    I found a list that I think you’ll like. The full list didn’t happen when I clicked on the link to it in the article I arrived at (you with me so far? Good, ‘cos I’m not) but here’s the first and then the full – I presume that the ‘full’ came via someone’s copy and paste later.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the story about the tallow infused notes on Facebook (which I am starting to avoid) and I couldn’t help but make a comment. The bills/notes are made of polymers which include a very small amount of tallow. Polymers also include a significant amount of dinosaur and such things that were turned into oil by asteroids and pressure and time and whatnot. So, does it follow that vegans could eat dinosaur? I probably shouldn’t go there.

    As for our naval ship stuck in the canal with missiles too expensive to fire, would it have killed them to sign-up with AAA? Then again, if all the world’s ammunition was too expensive to fire, maybe we’d be in a better state.

    LinkedIn tried to get me to sign up for the Pro version by telling me there were CEO jobs out there that I was a good candidate for. I didn’t take the bait.

    Thanks again for the smile to wind up the week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always thought of novelists as terribly competent people who get hired to do all sorts of jobs.
    I’m fact I can’t think of a single bar or restaurant I’ve worked in that didn’t have a novelist working there.
    They seem to have fallen out of fashion these days, or perhaps they have come to the same gloomy conclusion as I have, that a goodly number of the population can’t read anything long than a trashy headline or a tweet.
    On a mostly connected matter I have been wondering if I should tweet to the new president elect to explain what a library is and why he will be getting one, but I’m not sure I can do it in 140 characters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I doubt he has the attention span to read more than 140 characters, so I’d say it’s worth the effort. And you’re right about novelists and jobs, but I’m willing to bet that none were hired because of the novels.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really don’t know what the vegans are upset about, it’s not like they usually eat the five pound notes anyway. I had heard that although washable they weren’t so good in the tumble dryer afterwards, perhaps the newly shrunken fivers it creates are some sort of metaphor or comment on sterling since the Brexit vote.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cooking for vegans has always been hard, but it gets worse when £5 notes are off the menu. But as a metaphor for the post-Brexit pound, I agree, they’re perfect. Wild Thing and I should be fine, though, since we don’t have a tumble dryer.


  6. There’s just something about the way Zumwalt dives off the tongue that suggests it ought to be stuck in the Panama Canal.

    The first Face Book thing I got was someone changing a diaper. It all went downhill from there.

    Thanks, as always, for the chuckles.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So many items in this blog, Ellen! The one that caught my eye was LinkedIn. I am also on LinkedIn and when I was in the corporate 7th level of hell, this was a very useful tool. I did get several job interviews from there. However, once I started writing and started posting my blog information, it ceased to be useful. Apparently writers are verboten. You aren’t missing anyting. On the subject of petitions, I have a list of grievances. If I move to the UK can I circulate petitions about random issues? Another enjoyable, amusing post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As far as I can see, you can circulate petitions about anything and everything. Everyone else is. It’s a wonder we have time to make each other a cup of tea from time to time.

      Sounds like LinkedIn works as long as you look like everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, to ping off your observation about the tension between employers and writing, yes, I once had no problem getting interviews or job offers. As long as employers believed my heart belonged to them alone, I was free to write in my free time. Now that I’m able to find an audience for my work via blogging, I can’t find an employer who’s interested in my other skills. But who am I kidding? I’m not sure I have other skills. So to that point, LinkedIn is rubbish. And I’m doomed. Sorry, I’m off point. What were we talking about? I’m terrible in meetings.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m an atheist too. But I tell people I’m “spiritual,” that I believe there’s something else out there, bigger than us…I don’t know that that’s necessarily a lie, but it probably is. The look of horror on someone’s face when you tell them you’re an atheist, well it’s like you’ve said you sacrifice babies.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It turns out that’s an American thing. In the U.S., before I’d say I was an atheist I had to ask myself if it was worth the drama. Did I want to risk freaking someone out? Was I willing to get into a longish discussion about it? Et cetera. It was easier to say, “I’m not religious.” In the U.K., it’s not big deal. Which is interesting, because the U.S. is legally a secular country and the U.K. has an established religion.

            Isn’t the world a strange place?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, please. The world is a bizarre place and the Sates even weirder, particularly when it comes to religion. I mean, here people freak out if you say you suggest you’re an atheist, but if a racist, misogynist, tyrannical, incompetent, capitalist overlord claims to be a Christian, well, of course he’s a Christian! Sorry, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this election. Well, I like the UK very much. Have you seen The Crown? A show about Queen Elizabeth? We’re watching it on Netflix and learning so much more about the UK, the British history of the monarchy, and its perspective on God.

              Liked by 1 person

              • We watched part of it but drifted away early on, and I can’t say I missed it. Here, you really need to check the position of everyone’s feet before saying you don’t support the monarchy or else you’ll stomp on all kinds of toes. I’ll sometimes do it anyway, but not just for the hell of it.

                Liked by 1 person

              • indeed, well as a general rule I don’t support the monarchy. I’d love a heated discussion on it. That said, I love a well done costume drama and the Brits are always good for that. If you want to talk about the politics of actual royalty, I’m in. And let’s discuss Downton Abby as well, because I’ll get my blood up about that too.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I’m not sure I can discuss Downton Abbey–at least not safely. We watched it for a while, and Wild Thing wanted to hang the butler. The show didn’t bring out the best in her. As for royalty, yeah, that I can discuss. And costume drama. There’s a category of people who look down on it, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re right to, but I’m a sucker for it.

                Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve never quite grasped the purpose of Linked-In and their mutual form of endorsements between us. Guess I haven’t used it to find a job.
    If I endorse your writing skills, will you like my training skills, sort of thing. A lovely woman who looked after my dog for ages appeared on Linked-In, inviting me to endorse her ‘leadership ‘ skills. Not sure about her people leadership ability, but definitely her dog leadership !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve wondered what exactly leadership skills are. I don’t mean in real life, I mean when they’re broken out that way, as if we learned them as neatly as we learn (or in my case, don’t learn) the multiplication tables. I guess the question is, who walked in the lead, her or the dogs?


    • I’m (roughly) a five hour drive from London, so I haven’t made the trek. I’m not sure how to define leadership skills anymore–they seem to have floated away from any discussion of where a leader’s leading and are now something we admire in and for themselves. People–some people–do follow him, so I guess it’s fair to say that he leads. The question is, is this anywhere we want the nation to go? My answer is no, absolutely not. I read recently that not only have we been separating families at the border and locking up children, but ICE came through and deliberately destroyed the paperwork that would have allowed reunification of those families. So now we have babies and toddlers who can’t tell anyone who their parents are and no paperwork that identifies them.

      Is this where we wanted to go?


      • I don’t thing having leadership skills means the person leads in the right direction. Trump is an.example of that in my opinion. I live in Meti Atlanta which is strongly liberal and votes for democrats. Most people I know think Trump is a deranged person. Outside of the metro area people are conservative they. They love Trump and like what he is doing. I don’t understand it.
        In the election Clinton got 48 per cent of the vote. Trump got 46 per cent. My point is neither got a majority. That to me means there is no consensus in the country. So when you ask if that is where we want to go I would say if you mean is that where the country wants to go I would say it is not clear where the country wants to go. I think Trump is a nut personally. Some of the things he says are extremely dangerous and repugnant. Even his supporters agree with that. But they overlook it because they like his tax cuts, his deregulation of businesses, his coservative sumpreme court picks, his pro-life stance, his anti illegal immigration policy, his repeal of the mandate to buy health insurance, his government gun position, and his promise to get them jobs. Those conservatives loves they guns, yes they do.
        I don’t think those positions are going in the right direction. That is why live in Meto Atlanta where people are liberal.

        Liked by 1 person

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