Let’s talk about common sense or, rather, the lack of common sense which seems to me to be invading life like some horrible virus just now.
Despite all signs to the contrary people still believe that Jason Statham will one day learn to act, that Ed Milliband will eventually become a politician, that Simon Cowell has never, ever manufactured a publicity stunt and that the Tooth Fairy exists – don’t they know it’s actually Santa Claus who does it? Where’s your common sense people?
On Thursday I took a call from the Blood Tranfusion Service asking me to give at a donating session later in June. Sure, I said, what times do you have? Er, none actually, we’re fully booked. So why are you calling me? Because my computer screen told me to. Common sense?
On Friday I received an HP printer for my computer which arrived in a box, within a box, within a box like one of those Russian dolls without the colour or endless play possibilities. After unwrapping this “pass the parcel” goody, the machine was finally discovered in a canvas bag proclaiming “for transporting your printer” with a smaller bag on the side for “carrying printer essentials around”. Now, how often have you travelled to a mate’s house and thought “I know, I’ll take my printer for a visit. Perhaps it will enjoy the trip on the bus and get some fresh air around it’s cartridges. What I need is a custom made bag”? And guess who manufactured these silly bags which I threw away as rubbish increasing the load in our landfill bin? A company called Eco Solutions.
There was also a message on the cartridges stating “ink may be harmful if eaten”, a note that stated “for best results please attach to a computer”, a leaflet with the addresses of all the repair centres in Turkey, and a booklet containing instructions in Egyptian, Greek, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovenian and Hrvatski, whatever that is.
This week I seem to have come across many silly situations that have frustrated me more and more until I have become as disappointed as a footballer discovering a petting zoo only contains animals. Has the world gone mad recently and no one told me?
David Beckham first showed the lack of brain matter when he told TV viewers how surprised he was that The Queen knew his wife was due to have a baby when they met last week. Even allowing for the fact that Beckham thinks an ‘A’ level is a capital latter without a slope and so probably wouldn’t know common sense if it held him down and tattooed his backside, he should have perhaps thought that Queenie might just get briefed by her aides before every meeting and event. Allowing for the fact that she may be as distanced from reality as those judges who used to ask “who are the Beatles and what is this new beat music thing”, does he not think the tens of thousands of pounds he and his wife spend on publicity agents every month to get them into newspapers might have something to do with it?
But a lack of common sense isn’t just limited to celebrities.
My local cafe, The Windmill, sells cheese toasties which, just like everywhere else, are bits of bread with cheese that’s then grilled. Our daughter wanted a simple cheese sandwich but was told they didn’t have that on the menu. “So,” I asked, “could you just take a cheese toastie and give it to us before you grill it please?” The answer was No! If it’s not on the menu we can’t give it to you. It then got worse.
I only drink hot water, no tea or coffee, so I asked for a mug of hot water. Sorry, health and safety say no, we can’t sell hot water. So could I buy a cup of tea and just ask you to put the tea bag on the side rather than in the cup? Yes, that was allowed. “But it’s still a mug of hot water isn’t it” I suggested? No, it’s a cup of tea in waiting and we can sell that. Mad, mad mad. Where has common sense gone?
It’s all part of a malaise in the UK where I bought a tube of antiseptic cream for athlete’s foot last Monday to find the message “for external use only” as if the makers were worried I might eat it as a cocktail with the new computer ink to cure the spare feet I keep safely hidden in my stomach. I also have deodorant that tells me “not to be used in eyes”, a wheelbarrow that came with instructions “not to be used on motorways”, and a toilet brush that warns me it is “not to be used orally.”
How about the Government making all manufacturers put this message on their products from now on? “Common Sense. Not to be taken for granted.”