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since 30/11/-0001


Member Advice on Schizophrenia 25/09/2006

It's The Hard Knock Life For Us!

Member Advice on Schizophrenia ORIGINALLY WRITTEN November 2001 INTRODUCTION Writing my last opinion on Ciao about my education was the hardest opinion written so far. All your comments were very supportive. I shall try to answer each comment individually in due course. Deciding to write this opinion was even harder. I was thinking a lot whether to write it or not. But I decided in the affirmative. I suffered from chronic schizophrenia from 1985 to 1990. Things are almost back to normal now. Full-time work is out of the question at present but I can now cope with most things life throws at me. The purpose of this opinion is to try to mention the various facilities available for help. I have also included some wacky alternative self-help procedures, which should make for amusing reading. UNNECESSARY IGNORANCE When I was young I did not have much understanding of the mentally ill. I simply thought they were all strange people. My GP father had the same attitude. He simply referred the patients to the psychiatrist for treatment and forgot about them. Our next door neighbour had suffered from depression as she could not have children. This was despite the fact that she had 5 stepchildren. I wrongly felt that it was all her fault and that she should snap out of it. A LIFE LESS ORDINARY I wrote in my previous opinion on education how austere my childhood was. To recap my parents were very strict with me at home whilst the teachers were equally strict at ...

Dublin, DUB 15/09/2006

When Irish Flies are Flying!

Dublin, DUB ORIGINALLY WRITTEN December 2001 INTRODUCTION The Ciao reviews about Dublin airport varied from very good to a third world airport. So I was intrigued to know which opinions were accurate. My wife and I travelled to Dublin in December 2001. LONDON TO DUBLIN FLIGHT We had to report at Heathrow Terminal One. I have been to Heathrow Terminal 4 several times and have been impressed by the cleanliness of it. But Terminal One seemed shabby in comparison. There did not seem to be enough room to walk around and things were not signposted properly. We checked in at the British Midlands desk. There was a 15-minute walk to our departure gate. The travelator was not working. The flight to Dublin took 50 minutes. One new feature was that there was a video screen outlining safety aboard the aircraft. A free newspaper was given to all passengers. All we had to eat was a choice between a small chicken or ham sandwich. This sandwich would not fill a toddler let alone an adult. The cutback of food on British Airways flights over the past couple of years has been a scandal. But everything else on the flight was fine. THE ARRIVAL On leaving the plane the initial impression of Dublin airport was fantastic. As we walked towards passport control the view of the planes and runway was beautiful. The staff at passport control were pretty strict and serious which they have to be. We then took an escalator to the baggage reclaim area. One habit I ...

Allied Carpets (Shop) 21/08/2006

A Whole New World!

Allied Carpets (Shop) ORIGINALLY WRITTEN August 2003 INTRODUCTION In May our kitchen and bathroom carpets were replaced with vinyl purchased and fitted by Allied Carpets. This op deals with the hurdles, which had to be overcome. I actually suggested the Allied Carpets category to Ciao, which is why this op is longer than it should have been. The first half of the op deals with my unpleasant experiences with previous carpet shops. For those only interested in Allied Carpets, jump straight to the heading. I was a first-time buyer of carpets and therefore will try to use layman terms. I deliberately padded out this op to increase the entertainment value, which Paul (Silverback) likes so much. DID WE REALLY NEED A CHANGE? My wife noticed that the kitchen carpet was full of food particles, oil etc. The bathroom carpet was ruined by water etc over the years. So the carpets were crying out to be replaced. Our carpets were last changed about 10 years ago. I really did not notice any deterioration. Having 'dossed' on a few student floors after graduating I thought our carpets were quite clean in comparison. My wife is a fan of DIY programmes like 'Changing Rooms'. Apparently vinyl is the latest buzzword. So it was inevitable that the carpets would one day be replaced. My own view was that if it ain't broke then don't fix it. Digressing a little I wanted to write a few lines about my previous carpet shop experiences. CHILDHOOD CARPET HORROR ...

Selfridges (Department Stores) 13/08/2006

Worse Than Harrods!

Selfridges (Department Stores) ORIGINALLY WRITTEN February 2001 Selfridges has been one of the greatest shopping institutions in the UK over the past century. Its reputation transcends these shores. When I used to work in Oxford Street in the mid 1980s I occasionally popped in during lunch hours. I have bought a few items from the store over the years eg a cut glass fruit bowl costing £40, a spectacle lens cleaner, a few kitchen utensils, a self-help book and a tie. It is an upmarket store specialising in quality items. Most of the goods can be purchased elsewhere at a slightly cheaper price. Occasionally bargains can be found. There are about 6 floors connected by escalators. Each floor is very spacious and it takes a lot of time to cover everything on a floor. The lower ground floor comprises of kitchen utensils and white goods such as fridges and washing machines. There is a fantastic range of kitchen stuff available eg from cheap knife sharpeners to solid silver cutlery sets. I like the CDs and magazines section on the ground floor. Several foreign magazines are sold here presumably for the benefits of tourists. There is a Keith Prowse section, which sells tickets for theatre shows, concerts and other events in London. Note that you pay extra for these tickets than elsewhere as extra commission is added. The delicatessen is worth visiting if only to peruse over the various food products from all over the world. The clothing section for men has products from famous fashion ...

BBC2 - Working Lunch 29/07/2006

Who's That Working Out in Your Lunchbox, Adam?

BBC2 - Working Lunch ORIGINALLY WRITTEN October 2000 We have been watching Working Lunch for about a year now. It is broadcast on BBC2 weekdays at 12:30 p.m. It covers the main business news stories of the day, the state of the stock market and personal finance stories. This programme is a must-see if you want to increase your knowledge of stocks + shares and other financial products. The personal finance issues cover insurance, taxes, pensions, bonds, consumer rights etc. There are always hard-hitting interviews with professionals in the financial world. On Fridays there is a feature called Consuming Issues where the viewers are invited to ask questions on a certain topic eg mortgages, unit trusts, which are answered by a specialist. The programme uses easy to understand graphics to illustrate issues eg comparison of profits of companies within the same sector. The business journalists on the show are top notch. Adam Shaw is the stocks and shares expert + has a background in economics. Simon Gompertz used to work for Investors Chronicle and is a former investment banker. Gillian Lacey-Solymar used to work for the management consultancy Mckinsey. Adrian Chiles, the best broadcaster in Britain, hosts the show. Watch it and you will be hooked. UPDATED September 2001 One of the best things of being unemployed is seeing programmes which I would have missed if I was working. 'Working Lunch' is one of them. It is broadcast at 12.30 p.m. every weekday on BBC2. ...

Safeway (Shop) 26/07/2006

Used to be the Way to Safe Sex!

Safeway (Shop) ORIGINALLY WRITTEN November 2000 When I was working in Hull from 1994 to 1996 I used to shop regularly at Safeway after work. The stores have always been well laid out. There is a good range of food products on offer. Non-food items such as plants, kitchen utensils, batteries are also available. Safeway used to have a loyalty scheme called ABC points where you received £1 discount for every £100 spent. The staff and even fellow shoppers were really friendly even stopping for a chat. There is no them and us scenario as I found with Sainsbury's. A few years ago Safeway teamed up with Abbey National to offer banking products. The deposit accounts initially had around the top rates of interest on offer but the rates have since fallen. You can have up to £50 cash back if you pay by debit card, which means fewer trips to your bank. In order to use a trolley you have to put a £1 coin in the trolley slot to release it from other trolleys. This is easier said than done. The car park has plenty of spaces and is free. Certain items such as sandwiches, fizzy drinks, bin liners are much cheaper than found in rival stores. Sometimes buy 1 get 1 free offers are displayed. At the Fulham store there is a wider till for disabled people to use. Recently there has been a change of management who has scrapped the ABC points scheme. This was because it cost £10 million pounds annually to run. Instead prices on many products have been cut. The result is that more ...

Intuit - Quicken 2000 Standard 24/07/2006

We are Living in a Material World!

Intuit - Quicken 2000 Standard ORIGINALLY WRITTEN August 2001 INTRODUCTION Quicken is a personal finance software package. It came pre-loaded on my Packard Bell PC when I purchased it from PC World in 1998. The manufacturer of Quicken is Intuit. WHO CAN USE IT Really anyone with a personal bank account or business account can use Quicken. You can also monitor the progress of any investments you may have eg shares, unit trusts etc. WHY IS IT USEFUL Once your financial data has been loaded all sorts of data manipulation can take place. You can see where your money goes in detail every month, 3 months, 6 months or year. This data can be shown in the form of pie charts (remember O Level maths) or 2 or 3 dimensional graphs. You can set up categories to see how much you spend on an item eg if you are a car owner you can set up categories like petrol cost, road tax, insurance etc. This is a very useful way of seeing if you are overspending or underspending on a particular item. You can set up a budget (eg monthly) and compare actual expenditure against that budgeted. Knowing your incoming and outgoing is the first step in financial housekeeping. Every time you use Quicken a useful tip is displayed. This enables you to learn about the package very quickly. HOW TO GET STARTED Quicken makes setting up bank or building society accounts very easy. There are tutorials and troubleshooting software to help you out of any difficulty. You need to have all your bank details on ...

OK! 23/07/2006

Women Rule OK!

OK! ORIGINALLY WRITTEN May 2002 INTRODUCTION OK I will admit the fact that I am a gossip. I love to know all the trivia about the people around me. There is so much useless information floating around in my head. Bengali people are the most inquisitive people I know. So I guess my gossipy nature is in my genes. But since I got married I have less interest in the lives of celebrities. I began reading celebrity magazines like 'Weekend' and 'Titbits' in the late 1970s. I also used to read 'The Sun' and 'The News of the World' newspapers. In the 1980s I used to read 'Revue', 'Chat' and 'The National Enquirer' magazines. In the early 1990s I bought a few issues of 'Hello' magazine. OK! magazine came out in the early 1990s as a rival to 'Hello'. I have only bought it about 5 or 6 times. This review is about issue 313 of OK! dated May 2 2002 purchased from our local Tesco store. HOT STARS OK! is sold weekly and costs GBP 1.95. A free packet of Milky Bar Munchies was attached to the magazine. There was also a free copy of 'Hot Stars' magazine. The Munchies tasted like globules of Milky Bar filled with biscuit. Yummy but calorific. I doubt if I can get my weight below 20 stone ever again. 'Hot Stars' was like one of those magazine supplements, which comes with Sunday tabloid newspapers. The celebrities featured included Liam Gallacher, Jessie Wallace, Kate Moss, Lisa Faulkner, Pink, Minnie Driver, J Lo, Louis Theroux, Toni Collette, Holly Valance and ...

West Indies 19/07/2006

No Woman, No Cry!

West Indies ORIGINALLY WRITTEN September 2000 WEST INDIAN CRICKET IN THE PAST When the West Indies first played test cricket their captain was a white man, which was very unusual. The first cricketing superstar was Sir Learie Constantine. He was a brilliant fielder. The team in the 1950s was the first great West Indian team. The 3 Ws were in the side: Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes and Sir Frank Worrell. All 3 batsmen were devastating hitters but each had their own style. The main spinners in the side were Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. In the last 1950s a young all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers joined the team. He held the world record for the highest test score. He hit 365 not out against Pakistan. He could also bowl in 4 different ways. He was also the first batsman to hit 6 sixes in one over. The main fast bowlers in the early 1960s were Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith. A young spinner Lance Gibbs also joined the side. Gibbs went on to become the highest test wicket taker. He could complete an over in under a minute. The main batsmen were Basil Butcher, Rohan Kanhai and Seymour Nurse. In the 1961 the famous tied test took place with Australia. At this stage West Indies was the best team in the world. In 1966 the Windies toured England and won the test series. But in 1969 the Windies lost the test series in England 1-0. Several players were getting old and were replaced with younger players. 1973 TOUR OF ENGLAND The first time I saw the West ...

Chelsea 18/07/2006

Duncan's TORRid Trysts in the Shed!

Chelsea ORIGINALLY WRITTEN September 2000 I was in shock this week on hearing the dismissal of Gianluca Vialli as the manager of Chelsea. Was it only last season when they lifted the FA Cup and defeated the Premier League Champions Man Utd 5-0? In the Champions League they overcame the first 2 group stages and were 3-0 up in the quarter-final 1st leg against Barcelona. En route they defeated Galatasaray 5-0 away. Yet there was talk of Vialli being replaced at the end of last season. He spent £25M over the summer bringing in players such as Stanic + Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The season is only 5 games old for goodness sake. Already this season Chelsea have won the Charity Shield. Five trophies in 2 1/2 years spells success to me. What the hell is going on at Stamford Bridge? UPDATED June 2001 The season has ended with Chelsea surprisingly claiming an UEFA Cup spot for next season. Things went from bad to worse before some improvement took place. Even Dennis Wise was unhappy and wanted to leave the club. The manager Claudio Ranieri has been conspicuous by his media absence. Although he can now speak English Ranieri has not given one interview on TV. But he made the signing of the season in Jesper Gronkjaer who made an exciting debut. It seems likely that Gus Poyet and Frank Le Boeuf will leave the club. Ranieri was brave enough to dispel with coaches Graham Rix and Ray Wilkins. Chairman Ken Bates looks to have his hands full after ...

Boots (Shop) 16/07/2006

Playing Footsy with my Pussy in Bootsy!

Boots (Shop) ORIGINALLY WRITTEN May 2001 The Ciao member pussygalore wrote an excellent opinion on Boots and her views mirrored mine exactly. So please bear with me if my opinion sounds a little repetitive. Boots has been one of the longest running stores in the High Street. In fact the store has been present in every City High Street and shopping centre that I have ever visited. Boots is the leading store for health and beauty products in the UK. Thomas Boot founded it in the late 19th century. On entering the store you see several beauty specialist counters eg Christian Dior, L'Oreal, Revlon etc. These counters sell top of the range cosmetics products such as perfume, nail polish, face cream and lipsticks etc. Unfortunately the price range is very expensive and I tend to steer clear of these counters eg a small bottle of Christian Dior perfume costs £50. Boots has a nice range of products called 'The Natural Collection'. The range includes exfoliating masks, foot creams, lip salves, lipstick, soap etc which are all made from natural ingredients. The Body Shop pioneered the selling of products not tested on animals and did well business wise in the 1980s. Boots stole the idea of selling natural products from Body Shop. Unfortunately the business of the Body Shop dived to such an extent that its founder Anita Roddick had to step aside and let someone else run the company. The beauty products are nicely laid out in aisles. These include shaving foam, after shave lotions, ...

BBC1 - Question Time 16/07/2006

Time to Pop the Question!

BBC1 - Question Time ORIGINALLY WRITTEN November 2001 POLITICS DURING MY CHILDHOOD I grew up in the 1960s. I can remember the great oratory of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. In 1970 Edward Heath took over as PM. I can remember the miners' strike of the early 1970s. Britain was put on a 3-day week due to lack of electricity. I can remember lights and all electrical equipment in the house being switched off at 8 p.m. due to the strike. At junior school the thing I loved most of all was the free milk at 11am every morning. Imagine my disappointment when the Education Minister a certain Margaret Thatcher stopped the free milk to schools. She was known as 'Thatcher the Milk Snatcher'. Perhaps this was the reason why I did not vote for her at subsequent General Elections. I felt that my political views were more accurate when I was a teenager than nowadays. Perhaps I am more cynical in my old age. THE EARLY TV CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAMMES In the 1960s and 1970s the main current affairs programmes were 'Panorama', '24 Hours', 'This Week', 'World in Action', 'TV Eye', 'Weekend World' and 'Newsday'. Nowadays only 'Panorama' has survived from 30 years back. But recently it has been broadcast on a Sunday slot rather than its usual Monday evening slot. It seems that the British public is not into analysing politics in-depth. I agree with them. Sir Robin Day was the BBC's best ever political interrogator. His equivalent nowadays would be Jeremy Paxman of 'Newsnight'. Sir ...

England 24/06/2006

England Football Team Part 1

England ORIGINALLY WRITTEN October 2000 A LIFE AS AN ENGLAND SUPPORTER Although I cannot remember the match my parents told me that I watched the 1966 World Cup final at the age of 4. I began watching England matches in 1970. I particularly remember a match at Wembley where England thrashed Belgium 3-1. It was a wonderful performance. Alan Ball and Geoff Hurst got the goals. In those days the Home International Championships were played at the end of the season. England would easily see off Wales and Northern Ireland. The big game was the final match, which was against Scotland. I think the score in 1970 was 0-0. 1970 WORLD CUP Afterwards the World Cup in Mexico began. England was drawn in a group with Rumania, Brazil and Czechoslovakia. The match with Rumania was a dour affair. I can remember Geoff Hurst scoring the winning goal. Dumitrache of Rumania had a good game. Rumania later changed its name to Romania. The Brazil match was a classic. I seem to remember that it took place on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone remembers the tackling of Bobby Moore and that save of Gordon Banks from Pele's header. My particular memory is of Jeff Astle missing an open goal. The match with Czechoslovakia was another bore. Allan Clarke of Leeds United scored the winner from a penalty. The quarter-final match with West Germany was a very sad occasion. England took a 2-0 lead and was coasting. England's manager Sir Alf Ramsey took off Bobby Charlton and the Germans ...

India 03/05/2006

Bowling a Maiden Like Rani Mukherjee Over!

India ORIGINALLY WRITTEN April 2001 Cricket is akin to a religion in India. During Test matches and one-day internationals people stop what they are doing to follow the fortunes of the Indian team. Workers take days 'off-sick' and miraculously recover once the matches have ended. The knowledge of cricket in Indian kids is phenomenal. Wherever you go in India, kids are playing games of cricket in parks or even on waste ground. The standard is incredibly high. I thought I was a useful cricketer having played at school in the UK. But during a holiday to India, local village kids who played to an incredible standard showed up my weaknesses. At present India are the under-19 World Cup holders. I first saw the Indian Test team on TV during their tour of England in 1971. Surprisingly India won the Test series 1-0. The team comprised of players such as Sunil Gavaskar, Ashoke Mankad, Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Dilip Sardesai, Eknath Solkar, Faroukh Engineer, Abid Ali, Bishen Singh Bedi, Srinivas Vengatravagan, Erapalli Prasanna and Chandrasekhar. The team was captained by Ajit Wadekar who later became cricket manager of the team. Recently he had a heart attack. This team was famous for its spin attack of Bedi, Prasanna, Venkat and Chandra. In the final Test I can recall Chandra taking 6-38 as England crumbled to 101 all out. Chandra was one of the greatest wrist spinners of all time. Unfortunately he was involved in a cycling accident and struggled to return to ...

Vodafone 07/04/2006

Is that a Cockatoo in your Pocket or....?

Vodafone ORIGINALLY WRITTEN November 2000 We purchased a Vodafone 'Pay as you Talk' mobile phone in May 1998. It cost £99 from Argos. Setting up the phone caused problems. No calls could be made. We took it back to Argos who said that nothing was wrong. After calling the helpline for 15 minutes and pressing several keys it started working. Initially we purchased vouchers for making calls. A few months later payment by debit cards was introduced. Now the fun started. The pin I supplied whilst registering for the phone did not work. I contacted customer services who transferred me to technical support who told me that it was the problem of customer services. So like a yo-yo I was passed from one department to another. After about 90 minutes I was re-registered to use the Vodafone service. I am certain less patient people would have returned the phone. Now topping up your account is automated + easy to use. In 1998 you had to phone customer services to top up + due to the volume of calls received often got your card number or top up amount wrong. Now I purchase £15 vouchers, which gives you 60 days of service credit and £5 of calling credit. The phone needs to be recharged every 3 weeks. If the signal is low, then the line can get distorted. I still have not mastered the answering machine service. This type of phone was the best seller in Xmas 1998. Vodafone was on my list of possible share purchases but in the light of the £10 million bonus paid to Chris Gent I think I ...
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