Category Archives: Questions

 I made a phone call



I like talking to real people. In person. If that is not possible, then a real person on the other end of a phone will do. In this case I mean when doing business.

An ATM does not smile or say “Good Morning!”

An automated phone call with fifty two options followed by a Concerto does noting for me. If I have to continue to press buttons to complete my business, I HANG UP!

I like to speak to a real person, who can answer all my questions, with an interesting voice or accent while interacting with me. Hopefully we both come away from the call feeling better about the day.

This morning I did feel better.

Sorting through a bundle of paperwork, I discovered my renewal notice for motor insurance was due tomorrow. The reason it had not been sorted, is I was still waiting for an answer to whether I am allowed to renew my driving licence. Yes, the medical forms are still doing a tour of Northern Ireland before the final decision is made and I am informed. 🙁 If the licence is declined, there would be no reason for motor insurance.

Living in hope, I phone the insurance company to renew coverage for another year.

I spoke to a delightful young man (DYM). I gave him my policy number and said I wanted to give him money. He laughed and asked the required questions to make sure we were on the same page.

I then enquired if he could do better for me than the figure I had in front of me.

DYM – “Now let me see… I can reduce it to £xxx.xx” he said.

Me – “ I am always surprised that if I ask, the renewal cost is always reduced, yet if I say nothing the full amount would be taken, without comment.”

DYM – “It is a discretionary reduction. There is no obligation to give it. A customer who has been with us just a year or two would get a small reduction. Since you have been with us for a good number of years then the reduction is worth more for you.”

So I happily gave him the long number on my card and answered his other questions.

Today I have £51.53 to play with all because I made a phone call and asked for a reduction. It would not have happened if I paid by direct debit.

Sunday One liner ~ 60


This may not actually be a One Liner, but let it be my Christmas gift to you!

“When you’re lonely, visit an elderly neighbour.
When you’re scared, help someone else be brave.
When you’re stuck, encourage someone else to take a small step.
When you’re depressed, make someone else smile.
When you’re defeated, cheer on a family member.
When your heart is broken, help a friend mend theirs.
And when things are going smoothly and unfolding the way you want, be grateful and bring someone else along with you”
~~ Aparna Krishnan~~

Link in or out

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. In 2006, LinkedIn increased to 20 million viewers. Wikipedia

Supposedly, it is the most useful social media site for business. An online source to manage your professional identity and build and engage with your professional network. A way to access knowledge, insights and opportunities. The first entry on my search results tells me that LinkedIn has 300 million+ members!

Why am I a retired old lady writing about this topic?

Last week I received yet another email with the following invitation:

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

This came from someone long retired and even older than I am. So I emailed back:

Sorry XXXX
a) I am not a professional anything these days and..
b) I do not use LinkedIn.

The correspondence continued:

Sorry about that Marie. The request to link has gone automatically to all my contacts once I became an unwilling member to oblige someone. I am really sorry that I have troubled you.


I smiled at that one. Had this person joined because of a spammy invitation like the one above that I received?

I replied:

XXXX, from past experience, LinkedIn seems to send several invitations from the same person over a number of weeks. I find it humorous that a website supposed to be for professionals, seems to enjoy spamming non users. Maybe you should point that out to the powers that be! 

I also found it rather ironic, since you have cut contact with me, from almost all other channels. Stay well,

Do you use this social media site?

Does it help manage your professional identity and aid you to engage with your professional network?

Or, like me, find LinkedIn a nuisance?

Which kind of friend are you?


A friend had this graphic on her blog this morning, as a lead into a post about depression.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

I never knew RW, I may have seen him in one movie.

The picture holds a powerful message and food for thought.

Which kind of friend are you? Are you available to listen?


Unplug your ears and switch off all modern devices to actually hear what your friend is saying, meaning and NEEDING?

Think on, my friend.

You are not out of this world yet, and long runs the fox (depression), but one day it might catch up with you.

I hope, if it does, you will still have friends around to…




An ‘S’ or a ‘5’

Who tried to bite me on Saturday night as I was in a deep sleep. Deep sleep being a new phenomenon for me.

Is that an S or a 5

Is that the letter S or a number 5

Did the culprit sneak off into the night.

Is it part of the reason I was awoken at 05:10 hours to the sound of my house alarm screeching through the neighbourhood?

Did the driving rain, remnants of ‘Bertha’ pushing northwards from our friends in Hawaii cause my alarm to roar?

In my dopey state, I switched it off, and went back to bed, but sleep eluded me until about 07:00. Thankfully on Sunday. a day of heavy rain, I had no reason to leave my comfortable home.

Seriously. What can I do?

We are drowning in news reports that remind me of the words of Robert Burns:

Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Every time you open a newspaper, listen to the radio, (watch television – if you have one) or read articles online, there are tales of bombings & massacres, in Gaza, or the plight of refugees in Syria….. I could go on and on.

Living in Northern Ireland, we are governed by The Northern Ireland Assembly but we still have a Cabinet member of the Westminster Government to keep an eye on us. This means that we have voting rites for both the local and Westminster elections.

In my thirty seven years living here, nobody I ever voted for in local elections, made it to Stormont and in Westminster elections we vote for Northern Ireland representatives and not the main parties, so again my vote does not count for much.

The Government responsible for my taxes, reductions in pension, rising food and fuel prices, the very folk preaching at me to ‘reduce, reduce, reduce’ and ‘save, save, save’, are people I did not vote for and are responsible for selling armaments to many of the countries using them to massacre men , women and children.

The Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people in West Africa, is now a “threat” to the UK, according to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

We are constantly preached at about our carbon footprint, we are to reduce it to halt global warming, the cause of land slides, ice melts at the north and south poles, and world wide unpredictable changing weather patterns.

So what can I, as a widow living alone, do to save the world?


  • I prepare and cook all my own food. The only fast food for me comes in the form of an apple or a banana.
  • Electricity provides light, is used for cooking, using the microwave, fridge/freezer and the washing machine. It also activated the oil heating boiler, the water for my shower, my phone and internet connection.
  • Central heating comes from oil, and an open fire gives comfort and a feeling of not being alone on long dreary dark winter evenings. The fuel for the fire comes from woodchip blocks.
  • I do have a car – fourteen years old now – with a laughable mileage of sixty seven thousand, seven hundred and odd miles on the clock! It is my life saver, a necessity rather than a luxury. Regular three hour journeys to Dublin, are not alone a bonus for my health & heart, but good for the engine of the car.

I do not have

  • air conditioning.
  • possess, a dishwasher, tumble dryer or television.
  • I switch off lights when leaving a room.

So I will ask again…… What can I do?

Does laughing cause global warming? Do you think I should give it up?

A week of questions

What is the best part of being a blogger, writer and/or photographer?
The doors it opens for you.

When you are reminiscing with friends, what is your favourite story to tell?
The one our chatter brings to mind.

What is your favourite place in the world?
The place I am at, in the now.

When you are looking for inspiration where do you search?
I open my eyes and really look around me.

Are you a morning person, a night owl or somewhere in between?
I am a morning, noon and night person.

What animal best represents your personality?
I was once described as a gazelle.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?
It was after my first day at school. My oldest brother who was four years my senior, asked when I eventually paused for breath, in my long monologue of the day’s events:

“Was there anyone as nice as you there?”

An Undertaking

Woman’s hour on BBC Radio 4, had an interesting item the other morning, about Undertakers. It set me thinking and researching. Ok, so a week ago I felt like death, this week I was in need of distraction from the creaks, groans and pain emanating from my body.

When you think of an undertaker, what image springs to mind? A sombre man dressed from top to toe in black? Perhaps attired in a top hat, tailcoat, or long dark Overcoat and leather gloves all above shoes polished as if for a military parade.

If we take a look back in time to the late 19th century, most deaths (apart from casualties at war) occurred  in the home setting. The bodies stayed at home. Were laid out at home. Laid out by he women of the family or by a few chosen ones in the local community, sturdy stalwarts who were regularly called upon at times of hatching or dispatching.

In the 1930s public mortuaries & chapels of rest began to appear, but after the introduction of the National Health Service, ‘death’ was moved away from the domestic setting and was placed in the hands of funeral directors. These funeral directors were all men.


Bereaved families are vulnerable and often easily encouraged to show respect for the deceased with a good coffin, shiny hearse and multiple mourning coaches.

When arranging a basic burial, you might well be talking £3,000.00. Get more than one quote to compare costs.

The fee for the purchase of a plot depends on which cemetery is chosen, and where that cemetery is located. In my local graveyard, run by the local Council, the purchase of a grave plot for a resident of the borough is £300.00, it increases to £900.00 for a non resident. The 1st Opening £280.00, for a second and subsequent opening the cost would be £170.00. If you live in a large city, the costs may well be much higher.

On top of that – pun intended, Headstone Pricing can be anything from £900.00 to £2,650.00. These prices include installation of headstone, engraving of up to two names and sentiment but not cemetery fees of £100.00.

Then there will be costs to consider for a newspaper notice, flowers, and minister’s fee, the cost of a coffin, and the fees that are paid directly to the undertaker for the use of their services to arrange and conduct the funeral, tips for the organist and the verger at a church for making the preparations (dusting the front pews!). If you add in venue hire and catering costs, you might well be talking of £4,600 and odd pounds.

I told you it was BIG BUSINESS!

A cremation would be somewhere in the region of £2,500/£3,000  – this dying is not cheap! In addition to the fee of approx £600/£700 paid directly to the crematorium for (striking the match) carrying out the cremation, organists and medical referee’s fee and the use of their chapel for your allocated time, there will also be a fee to be paid to each of the doctors who complete the cremation certificates. I am always amused that it takes only one doctor to declare the ‘body’ dead for a funeral, yet two doctors must sign separate forms for a cremation. Currently in the UK this fee is set at £78.50 per doctor, giving a total fee payable of £157.00. This fee is set by the British Medical Association, and is reviewed and revised annually.

Next we need to think of the B O X.

Coffins are a whole different ballgame. Coffins are graded according to (the colour, the shine) the wood finish, and the brass or silver trimmings.

My exhaustive research of visiting one undertakers website, informed me that the range varied from a traditional veneered oak coffin with raised lid and polished teak finish @ £305.00 to a solid Paulownia wood³ casket polished in teak finish with luxury padded interior @ £2470.00. An 18 gauge steel casket, platinum finish with ebony shading and luxury padded interior was £POA – price on application, in other words, if you have to ask, you cannot afford it! They catered for the ‘Greenites’ too with a willow coffin manufactured from sustainable sources and available in traditional or oval shape. With water resistant lining, chipboard base and matching wooden frame it would only knock you back £595.00.

Are you worn out and ready to flop yet?

Never fear, the wind of change is beginning to whirl.  Women are increasingly taking on roles within the funeral industry and are reclaiming jobs viewed in recent times as male. It is no longer the preserve of gentlemen. We now have women undertakers, and that programme I mentioned way up there at the top of the post, had three wonderful ladies of the trade on the show:- Poppy Mardall, an undertaker, Liz Rothschild, a funeral celebrant, and Tara Bailey, a former undertaker who’s done a PhD at the Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath.

I certainly learned a few things….

It was like an old vault opening and letting in the daylight. You do not need to have the full formal funeral with hearse, mourning cars and church or funeral home service.

When someone dies there are three or four things you MUST DO in the first few days:

  • Check if the deceased is on the organ donor list and talk to the GP or hospital doctor ASAP. The sooner you do so, the more helpful it can be. Let your loved one live on in another person. Perhaps pass on the gift of life!
  • Get a medical certificate – it states the date, time and cause of death and must be signed by the doctor who declared the person’s death. You’ll get this from a doctor (GP or at a hospital) and you need one to register the death.
  • Register the death within 5 days of the death – you’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral. In the UK, unlike ROI, the death must be registered officially before a grave can be opened or a cremation booked. One tip I will give you is to ask for several copies of the Death Certificate from the Registrar at the first appointment², at this stage there is no extra charge, otherwise, at a later date, you will be asked to pay for each extra copy.
  • Arrange the funeral – you can use a funeral director or do it yourself. If you decide to do things yourself, the Registrar will give you another form that must be filled in to say what has happened to the body and returned to the Registrars office. Even if old Uncle Felix is sitting in an hourglass on the mantelpiece, you must say that on the form.

Are you listening Elly…….

There is no law that says you must use an undertaker or need a fancy box or the flashiest hearse in the country.

You can transport me the stiff the body, yourself…. In the boot of your old banger the car. That’s right. Bundle me up and bung me in there like an unfinished picnic in a sudden downpour!  Get my son-in-law to fire up the BBQ and away I go! Then go have a “She wasn’t so bad after all!” party and have a ball!

Sorting my personal affairs… NO. Not Toyboy affairs. I mean – hiring a skip, selling the house etc, can all be done later.

If the death has been reported to a coroner you can’t register the death until the coroner gives permission.

A doctor may report the death to a coroner if:

  • the cause of death is unknown
  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the death was sudden and unexplained
  • the person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
  • the medical certificate is not available
  • the person who died was not seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
  • the death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of an aesthetic
  • the medical certificate suggests the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning
  • The coroner may decide that the cause of death is clear. In this case: The doctor signs a medical certificate, and you take the medical certificate to the registrar.
  • The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem isn’t needed.

A Post-mortem/autopsy is held:-

To find out how the person died, the coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary. You can’t object to a coroner’s post-mortem – but if you have asked, the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.

After the post-mortem:

The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.

² You will need extra copies of the Death Certificate for:

  1. Undertaker if you use one.
  2. Solicitor if he is dealing with the deceased person’s will and/or estate.
  3. Probate office, if everything is straight forward and there is a will, and you feel comfortable in dealing with things yourself.
  4. Bank/s (If you have a joint account and take the death certificate in to them, they will usually make a note that they have seen the death certificate, remove e the deceased person’s name and return the certificate to you, if it is done by post, then they make take weeks or indeed months to return it! Well the poor banks need an excuse to make even more money out of us.
  5. Building societies.
  6. Wages department, if deceased was in employment.
  7. Insurance Company
  8. Pension provider

Do not photocopy a Death certificate, it will be treated like fake money. You need to go back to the Registrars office and pay for them or have a solicitor provide a certified copy…. You will pay handsomely for this.

This site might help: What to do after someone dies in UK

Some local councils run their own funeral services – eg non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association can also help with non-religious funerals.

To arrange a funeral yourself, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council.

All prices lists above are in £Sterling.

³ I never heard of Paulownia wood before, it comes from China…. All the way to the UK to be used for one day and buried in a hole in the ground, or cast into an oven! That link above makes for an interesting read, and tells of many uses of the wood for making the soundboards of stringed musical instruments, for chests, boxes, and clogs (geta), and is burned to make charcoal for sketching and powder for fireworks.